Hi there, I’m Pepper or Pep and welcome to my blog =).
Today I wanted to tell you a little about what a “bento” is..
Bentos have become very popular and even fashionable as of late.
People have been growing more and more health concious
over the years and instead of going out for an expensive sandwich
or lunch at a restaurant more and more people are opting for the
cheaper and healthier options.
Lets face it, for many (myself included), without a loving cook at home bringing a lunch from home does conjure up thoughts of a squashed sandwich wrapped in foil and a packet of crisps.
With the idea of a bento you can make even left overs seem
“sophisticated” and not something too shameful to eat in public.
So what is the idea of a Bento or Bento Box?
A bento is a Japanese version of what us English folk would call
a packed lunch/ lunch box etc….
The idea is quite frankly to fill a box with just about anything easy to transport for lunch, that is relatively balanced as a meal.
This can include any manner of things such a rice, fruit, vegetables,
meats,sandwiches, salad or even leftovers.
Some make them for themselves to eat at their Lunch hour, some make them for there husbands or boyfriends (seen as a great sign of
caring and love in Japan) and some make them for their children.
You may have seen some of the bentos made for children by loving
parents called Charaben, basically a “cute bento” where hours upon
hours have been spent crafting a mound of rice into some of the sweetest creatures you’ll ever see.
I can completely understand wanting to give your children the
very best diet you can by feeding them from home though it doesn’t have to be shaped to perfection for them to benefit greatly.
You might not be prepared to may a sandwich look like your kids favourite character every morning but making the effort to pack more than a cheese string, a sandwich and a packet of crisps is a great start to good health in the future.
A bento example
This is an example of two bentos I made for a photography trip to a zoo for me and my husband.
As you can see it’s pretty simple, one compartment for each food.
In these boxes we have some Japanese curry made with chicken,
peas, carrots and mushrooms and a portion of Japanese plain white rice.
You may notice how I simmered the curry for a long time so while there is little curry sauce the chicken is extremely tender and YUMMY while still maintaining the spicy flavour.
So, to pack the bento I added the rice and curry hot to the boxes and let them cool thoroughly.
Next I put them in the fridge with the lids loosely on overnight.
When it was close to leave for our trip I simply microwaved each of them and sealed them to take advantage of the “thermal” element of these boxes.
The main thing about thermal lunch boxes is timing.
This box, the Aladdin thermal lunch box states it will keep food warm for about 4 hours.
Now rice is only safe to eat out of it’s optimal temperature for up to 4 hours so if your packing rice you’ll have to eat it within that time.
With other types of bento boxes like this standard box
you’ll still have to think about timing when packing things like rice but if you do microwave your box before leaving (firstly making sure it’s microwave safe of course) leave time to let everything cool as trapping the steam in your box could cause a soggy wet mess.
Also to keep things safe I would advise against any raw or lightly cooked foods in any bento box especially for small children.
Anyway, I hope this entry is one of many to come and has shed a little light on bentos and how easy they can be .^__^
P.S All piccys taken by me of my work, please don’t steal =).