How I Make My Bento version 0.1

This is another relocated post from my GreatestJournal. It was intended as a guide for beginning bento makers who were unsure of what to make of such eeny weeny containers. Because it’s somewhat old (and full of baaaaaad photos) I’ll be updating it in a few days.

I may or may not have infected my friends with an interest in bento boxes/packed lunches. This couldn’t please me more, because not only do I love sharing my hobbies, but I’d like to see my friends have decent meals. I loves them that much. ( ‘*’)♥ Since I’ve been at this for some time, I’ve gotten some suggestions to do a tutorial on effectively packing a bento. Unfortunately, I was unable to use some of the techniques I like in this bento, but I believe that it’s good enough for beginners, or anyone who’s bored enough to read this.

This is my bento box, disassembled. The small lower portion has a capacity of 180ml, while the larger top portion has a capacity of 480ml. Bento are conventionally categorized by their volume rather than their external dimensions. Mine is a small bento, fit for child of seven or eight. Since I turned twenty one this year, this is a little inconvenient.

Now, my first thought before preparing my lunch is “What do I need?” Because my home is so often understocked, my second is “Well, what do I have?”

What I Have
-Lots of rice
-Some carrots
-Leftover corn on the cob
-Imitation crab
-Some fruit

What the Hell can I make out of that? Well, let’s see.

Let’s start with the rice. Here we have the small, lower part of my bento. Spoon the rice in.

Hm. Not much room for anything else. Since this rice is loosely spooned in, and the point of packing this is to get as much goodness in there as possible, let’s compact that.

Get any flat utensil you like, and firmly press the rice to one end, about half way. Wet the knife/whatever first, because rice can be sticky as Hell.

After that, smoosh it down and make sure it’s nicely packed.

Now that we’ve got the space, let’s add some carrots. Steam ’em if you like, but I just cut them into rounds raw. Cupcake cups are excellent for keeping less-moist foods separate. That funk all over my rice is furikake, which is just dried veggies and spice sprinkled over the rice. It causes the rice to be tasty. Or nasty. Choose your flavors well to avoid said nastiness.

Now that I think about it, those carrots are really sparse in number. Why, they only fill the cup halfway. Well, we can’t have that.

Gentlemen! Behold! CORN! To make your corn fit so nicely, make some space (i.e. shove the carrots to one side) and take a cob of corn out. Prepare it thusly: First, slice the cob into rounds, lengthwise. Lay the rounds out, and slice them in half, creating easily-packed semi-circles.

As much as I hate to admit it, that’s about all I can get in the bottom portion. Let’s talk about the top.

The top portion of my bento box is much larger, mostly be virtue of its height.

Well, let’s start with some maki sushi rolls. These are quite small, and rolled by hand. They contain carrots, imitation crab, and of course, sushi rice. Right now, they look awfully lonely.

Besides maki rolls, another of my lean food times staples in bento is the humble boiled egg. This particular egg is a tea egg, but its marbled awesomeness is concealed. I decided that they would look better sunny side up. The green leafiness in there is a bed of celery tops. All the taste of celery and none of the stringy-watery UGH.

The celery acts as a bed for the eggs, and as a stabilizer. Because bento are so often jostled about, stabilizers are necessary to keep everything in place. Always try to fill little spaces, both for stability and for more tasties.

With that in mind, let’s fill some gaps between the sushi rolls and the eggs. Blueberries (as I’ve used), grapes, chunks of cheese, grape tomatoes, or greens are excellent for this. Any small food will do. If you have small sauce bottles or packets, those are also excellent.

Guess what? We’re done! Our little bento is full of food (what little food I had!) and quite stable. What’s left to do but put the box back together?

Well, you could always wrap it up in a furoshiki for easy toting. More on those things later.

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