I have been giving a course for bento making for beginners since February this year. It is intended to give
6 lessons and so far I have given 4 lessons to a group of 24 people on Internett. This blog will be the
5th lesson of the course and it is about packing food in your bento box. There are some important
reminders around packing food in a bento box, specially now as the weather is getting warmer in many
countries. I am writing this article hoping this lesson to be of interest and help for some other fellow bento lovers.
Very first of all…. I like to recommend one thing. Probably you are making bento for sometime and
know already how to pack your bento box. Maybe you have many pretty bento boxes in your kitchen
as well. I surely share the love for these beautiful Japanese lunch boxes with you but if you are a
beginner in bento making, I rather like to recommend you to pick one box and use only that box for awhile
until you feel you know the box very well. It may sound quite simple but really it is not so simple.
Bento boxes are full of potentiality and flexibility, and you as the owner of the box can have fun
finding different ways of using it. If you find any of your box very difficult to use (Yes there are actually
difficult boxes to use. The reason can be the shape, the weight, the depth etc. ), you are very welcome
to send me an email about it. Maybe I can help you a little.
Anyway, please take a look at your box. How wide is your box? How tall? How long? How deep is it?
Getting to know your box very well will probably start from there. Take a very good look at your box.
The more time you spend as a bento maker, the quicker you get an image of the bento box filled with good food!
If you don’t get any image of food at all, you must be either too sleepy or too much in love with someone. ^^
Some people, including me, cook food for bento in the morning. If you are one of them, remember to
start packing after all the food is cooked ready and cooled.
I repeat, DO NOT PACK FOOD WHEN IT IS WARM!! When warm food is packed and closed into a small space
like a bento box, it leads to condensation in the box. The lid will be wet. If the food is a sort of oil-fried food,
it will make a tragic bento. Some people put warm food into a bento box and cool the food in the box with its lid
off but it is not correct. You still get condensation on the bottom and you will be eating wet and soggy food
some hours later. For example, piping-hot rice can tell you clearly how it gets soggy by condensation.
Put some very very warm rice in a bento box and close the lid. By the lunch time you will be greeted by
a porridge on the bottom. It does not taste good at all and this is not good at all in terms of food safety.
So, please cool food on a plate or bowl before you put it into your bento box to avoid condensation.
Specially in this coming warm season this is very important
In the morning, I get up, wash my face, change clothes and wash rice. While the rice is soaked in water for 30 minutes,
I make Tamagoyaki or cook meat/fish, all these that is cooked on the heat. Then I wash and cut vegetables.
Boil green beans, carrot, asparagus, colorful and cheerful vegetables!
and cool them in ice water. Rice cooker is cooking and when the rice is ready,
I take a portion in a bowl to cool and then put it in my bento box.
You can make a slant bank like this.
And cover with a leaf of lettuce. (Lettuce should be washed and dried well)
Sliced tamagoyaki will come here, but first I will place some tamagoyaki on the bottom
to raise the level. Put some tamagoyaki slices on top of these. Each slice is
cut and shaped to fit well on the slant bank. Green beans will come on the side.
This technique is good when you are using 1-tier bento box. When you are using 2-tier bento box, put the
largest or hardest piece of food first.
In this case, this Korokke came in first.
In this bento, the gyozas came in the box first. Soft and fragile food (The ham flower, tomato, the soft cream cheese)
should come in last to save their shapes and good looks.
In the next lesson, I would like to talk about “How to place different colors in your bento box?”
As there are some rules about placing colors and they really make a big difference, I would like to
talk about it before we end the whole course for this year. Thanks for reading!
Good luck with your bento making.