Many countries have sandwiches, but Japan? There is bento, of course! You're probably also a fan of the numerous snacks that the Japanese whip up from their bags when they're out and about. We tell you how you can create your own bento - without much effort, but definitely delicious!
What does bento mean?
As you might have guessed, bento means "takeaway food" in Japanese. Whether on long journeys or just on the way to the office - the bento box should not be missing in your luggage. Nowadays, such a box looks like a bread box and has at least two compartments. Often, however, the box is a somewhat larger container with several square surfaces. Nowadays, you can buy ready-made bentos at all railway stations in Japan.
How did Bento come into being?
As early as one and a half thousand years ago, people in Japan took leavened rice with them on their travels, which they transported in bamboo tubes. In addition to rice, fermented and other foodstuffs were then packed in wooden boxes. So that nothing spoiled or reacted with each other, the food was separated - and of course also because the food simply looked better that way.
What goes into my bento box?
A healthy and varied diet is very important in Japan. Even for children, ingredients are imaginatively cut up so that there is no boredom when eating at school or kindergarten. So that you have enough ideas for your next bento box, we have put together a few ingredients for you.
Let's start with carbohydrates
The most important ingredient in a bento is classically rice. If it's not too much trouble, you can make your own sushi and put it in your box. Onigiri with wakame, for example, are a little easier. Cook a small portion of white rice in the cooker, cool it, mix it with small pieces of seaweed and a furikake mixture (or alternatively with salt and sesame seeds) and form a sandwich with a triangular surface or alternatively balls. If you don't feel like rice, you can also cook soba noodles and toss them in a little soy sauce when cool. Sprinkle with bonito flakes and sesame seeds and you're done!
If you like meat, you can prepare a crispy karaage chicken, for example. Cut the chicken breast, which has been washed beforehand, into bite-sized pieces. Then season with salt, pepper, garlic, soy sauce and mirin. It is best to leave the ingredients in the refrigerator for an hour. Then dip the meat in a breadcrumb coating made from wheat flour and potato starch or directly in panko flour. Now deep-fry the well-breaded pieces in hot oil at about 175 degrees for about four minutes. Then drain on a cloth. The chicken pieces taste best with a little mayonnaise and a squeeze of lemon. If you are a fan of vegan food, silken tofu, among other things, is great for a quick preparation. Simply remove the silken tofu from the packaging, sprinkle with chopped spring onions and sesame seeds and cover lightly with soy sauce. If you don't want vegan or meat-heavy, a rolled omelette is a great way to provide protein. Our favourite in our bento box is the classic ramen egg. It's very tasty, but needs to be prepared in advance.
If you're in a hurry, you can cut some raw vegetables, such as carrots, cucumber or peppers, into small sticks. We find a spinach salad really delicious - it's quick and easy. Take fresh and washed spinach, boil it for two minutes in water with a little salt. Then mix the spinach with a sesame sauce (made from mortarized sesame seeds), a little sugar, mirin and soy sauce. Then sprinkle roasted sesame seeds on your spinach. Your side salad is ready!
Do you feel like trying something new? Of course you can also put fruit or biscuits in your box. The main thing is that it tastes good and isn't boring! If your bento is a bit runny and the ingredients are allowed to mix, a thermo container can of course come in handy. No matter what your personal taste is, the contents of the bento box should be well-balanced and colourful so that you can enjoy it a lot.
MYCONBINI tip: If you don't have a bento box for on the go yet, the SKATER box might be something for you. It can even be heated and is great for camping.