Bento Contest part 3 – THE OKAZU AWARDS


Rice + Okazu = Good Friends ♡ 

I wrote in the part 1 about something I saw when I went through all the photos of the participating bentos. As the theme of the contest was Onigiri my eyes were mainly looking for yummy Onigiris, but as I am going through your bentos I could not help noticing some fabulous food. Not only you tried hard to make good onigiris, you really put so much time and work in the okazu part too!  Bravo!  Yes, as you saw on the caption of the above photo, I really think Okazu is a good friend to rice. If we stop for a moment and look back in the history, there is the fact that Onigiri were there already before Japanese people started to use chopsticks. These delicious rice balls are to be grabbed by your hand and eaten somewhere outdoor as a quick, handy and filling meal. Some says you do not need any big okazu if you have onigiris made with good quality rice. But rice is carbohydrate food which is low in fat and a good resource for our energy but lacks in vitamins and minerals. According to a nutrition guide book, 1 salmon onigiri gives us about 191 kcal (rice 100g 168 kcal, grilled salmon 10g 20 kcal, Nori 1.5g 3kcal, salt 0 kcal). If you have 2 salmon onigiris for your lunch today, they will give you only 382 kcal and the nutrition fact from the 2 salmon onigiris is far from a well balanced one. It is very important that we eat vegetables that are rich in vitamins and minerals and protein food as well in addition to our rice balls.

So what goes well with Onigiri?

It will probably depend on what you like and what you have in the onigiri,
but I can imagine many Japanese people would say:

    1. Tamagoyaki (egg)
    2. Karaage (Chiken)
    3. Wiener Sausage (Meat)
    4. Miso soup (Vegetables and soya protein)

You may ask me “Is Miso Soup an Okazu?”  and I shall answer you “YES!”  In a cold winter day, nothing is better for me than a bento of 1 salmon onigiri, 1 tarako onigiri and a hot miso soup with lots of vegetables!!!! Nowadays we have great soup containers that keep the soup hot and sealed without leaking, so I am looking forward to showing my onigiri + soup bento in winter. As you know, Tamagoyaki is a very important component in bento in Japan, I think we can almost call Tamagoyaki a soul food for Japanese. My cooking is almost self-taught but my mother was very enthusiastic when she taught me how to make the good Tamagoyaki a la mama.  Meat or fish, that is really up to you, but it is nice to have a lot of vegetables from the nutrition’s point of view as mentioned earlier.

I went back to the photo album again and picked the following bentos and like to give my OKAZU AWARDS 2012!!

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

1.  The Best Tamagoyaki Award 2012

The Best Tamagoyaki Award to Sarah, Canada

Sarah wrote :

This was a spring bento made to cheer me up as I took to the streets while job hunting. It has 2 square, hand-formed onigiri, tamagoyaki slices, steamed spinich, radish stars cut with a kitchen knife and green grape skewers on reusable food picks. The lettuce surrounding the fruits and vegetables acts as a colourful separator.
Dear Sarah, 
Although I have never met you before, I saw your bento in the contest and wish this bento cheered you up a lot and your job hunting were a successful one. I thought your tamagoyaki looked the best of its kind in the whole contest. You wrote that you took this Onigiri bento to the streets and continued on your job hunting fight, and it really matches with the historical fact in Japan that onigiri was a quick lunch meal for war fighters. I noticed your tamagoyaki has at least 30-40 layers and shows me your great skills. Each layer is so thin but none of the layers are burnt, which is not so easy to achieve. I really think your tamagoyaki is fabulous. (And your radish curving is very nice too. I am trying it myself but I wish I could cut like you do)  A free trip to Japan would be a nice prize for you but I will let my congratulations travel to you in Canada in stead. Congratulations on your Best Tamagoyaki Award 2012!! xx Rie


2. The Best Shrimp Award
Delphine, France

This year, by some reasons, there were shrimps in many bentos. I wonder why? Maybe it is a year of good catch of shrimps? Shrimps are decorative and one of the few fish spieces that can add a cheerful color in our bento. But still it is a demanding type of fish both in preparation and participation in a small bento box, specially in the summer season. Delphine’s Ebi Fry looks very soooo appetizing to me. Please note also making straight Ebi Fry is very demanding but she managed very well. Congratulations, Delphine, on your Best Shrimp Award!! xx Rie

Miriam, Germany
 3. The Most Charismatic Okazu Award and The Most Original Bento Award

I don’t know how many times I went back to this photo. If we call Charisma the power to attract people’s attention, that is this bento. I first thought this bento is totally made of fruits but how wrong I was! They are made of so many variety of food and techniques, originality, ideas, presentation, the colors are all so great. If you have not read what she made each component of, you should go to the Bento & co’s photo album and read what she wrote!! (she is No.78) I dare not to copy and paste it here, as I want you to look and guess first before you will be impressed by Miriam’s food ingredients choices. What a fun and creative bento this is! Congratulations, Miriam, on your double awards!! 

 4. The Best Vegetable Award and The Japanese Award
Bruno, Switzerland
Bruno wrote :
Alors mon repas est présenté dans le 1er étage du sakura bento.
Comme à mon habitude c’est un bento Japonais. Alors au fond il y a les 2 onigiri おにぎり pressé de mes mains, le 1er est… “fourré sur le dessus” avec des ikura no shoyu zuke oeufs de saumon mariné à la sauce soja, et le 2èm au akashiso umeboshi umeboshi au shiso rouge (allégée en sel ^^), mais onigiri sont très basique mais c’est comme ça que je les aime! Devant les onigiri j’ai mis des yasai no nimono 野菜の煮物 un asortiment de légumes mijoter dans du dashi avec un peut de usukuchi shouyu et de mirin: takenoko, renkon, gobou, koniyaku, carotte, shiitake et poids mange-tout. À droite j’y ai mis des tenpura 天ぷら: crevette, aubergine (c’est la saison des nasu et des kurumaebi au Japon n’es-pas? ;D), satsumaimo, et shiso (fraîchement cueillit du p’tit pot sur mon balcon!) Voila merci à toute l’équipe pour organiser ce concours, je me suis bien amusé!


Dear Bruno, 
First and foremost, I would like to congratulate on your wonderful creation. When I saw your bento, I was VERY sure this bento was made by a skilled Japanese bento maker. But you live in Switzerland!!! Well, we both are a small country with diligent people (^^) but you really showed your love and amazing knowledge about Japanese food. (Are you a chef in Japanese restaurant?)  As your explanations were in french and I was not sure if I understood all correctly, but still I was very eager to understand everything you wrote about your bento very correctly, so I asked my french friend to translate what you said. And I must say I was very impressed by your knowledge. Not only that, your vegetables look so great and they all made me homesick. Your takenoko, konnyaku, renkon, shiitake… all made me miss Japan. Your tempura looks FABULOUS. The way the tempura batter is covering your beautiful vegetables is superb and I would like to give you the Best Vegetables and The Best Japanese Award 2012!! Congratulations!!

I am so delighted that someone is making 野菜の煮物 in Switzerland!

xx Rie


So, everyone, this series of the bento contest blog is now over. Thank you for reading these 3 parts of my private thoughts about your contest bentos. I may not be in agreement with your opinion, but if someone is enjoying my comments, I am very happy.

Bento Contest is not an easy event for both participants and organizer. It is an emotional roller coaster for the participants and a demanding job for the people who organize it. But I really hope we have many more bento contests in the future as it is the place we grow and get better, and we all have fun together!!  Keep on bentoing!! 



2 thoughts on “Bento Contest part 3 – THE OKAZU AWARDS

  1. Merci beaucoup d'avoir publié mon bento. J'adore les crevettes… Ces crevettes étaient mes première faite de cette façon, j'y ai pris grand soin c'est vrai, et elles étaient très bonnes, j'en referai certainement. Je suis très fière que mon bento, à défaut d'avoir été parmi les finalistes du concours Bento&Co figure sur ton blog toi qui est un pro du bento… Je te remercie pour le commentaire que tu en a fais. A bientôt pour de nouvelles aventures !

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