It is time for a bento contest!!
As many of you have known already Bento&co announced last week the theme and the rules of this year’s bento contest: “Chef Bento Contest – Sandwich bento” and I hope the news have reached you with much excitement! Yay! If you are reading this wondering what the heck is Rie talking about, I would like to lead you to this site the theme and the rules for this year’s bento contest. In short, it is a bento contest of sandwiches and I recommend all the participants to read the rules well (at least 5 times!) and make sure your submission will comply with all the requirements. It is no fun to get disqualified because of a careless mistake and misunderstanding, right? If you are a first time bento contest participant, don’t get scared, it is not meant to cause a mental health break. Take it easy and have fun making a sandwich bento!
A sandwich is a simple food consisting of only 2 parts – bread and fillings. But how many types of bread are there in the world? I am a bread baker and my bread baking text book can list different types of bread over 9 pages. Let alone fillings.
I am writing this post in Japan and will go back to Norway next week. When I compare Japanese sandwiches and Norwegian sandwiches, there is a clear difference. Japanese sandwiches are more delicate and use often white bread while Norwegian sandwiches are more robust and use healthier variety of bread. Only your imagination will set a limit on choosing fillings for your sandwiches. My favorite sandwich fillings are rather classic, I love hard boiled egg with mayonnaise and cucumber, tuna with onion, thinly sliced tomatoes and ham and cucumber, brie cheese and crisp bacon, watercress and roast beef, I can just go on listing up what I like in sandwiches.. but yes new fillings I have never tried before do tickle my curiosity!! Norwegian sandwiches use a lot of seafood like smoked salmon or boiled and peeled shrimps. They are local food ingredients that we can get hold of very fresh and the taste is 100% guaranteed delicious. I think combining local ingredients by your cooking sense will be a strong factor in any of cooking contests. It will show your cooking knowledge to the judges and people who organize a cooking contest are usually very food-oriented people. New food ingredients and unique types are surely interesting. When I come to Vietnam one day I like to try their sandwich called “bánh mì”. I saw it on TV the other day and it looked very delicious and yummy. It is an interesting combination of french food and local Vietnamese food, you use a french baguettes and spread liver pate and sandwich asian herbs, European cured ham and pickled carrot and daikon, season with Vietnamese soy sauce!! I really wonder how it will taste like!
When you consider sandwich fillings for a bento contest, don’t forget you will have to take a photo of it. Colorful ingredients like red tomatoes, green cucumbers and yellow eggs may look more appealing than a dark and boring colored food item on your photo. I would not recommend juicy ingredients as it is easily imaginable from the photo that the sandwiches will be soggy. When you make your contest bento of sandwich, remove well excess water from the ingredients and cool it very well in your fridge before you take a photo. Soggy sandwiches are nothing but a disaster. If you really like to use an ingredient of high liquid content, place it in the very center of the sandwich. You can place dry food item directly on the bread so that the moisture from the center will not be soaked up in the bread so easily. This rule is not only handy for a contest but also useful for making your everyday bento!
Looking at photos of great looking sandwiches is helpful and inspiring. Instagram has many good ones but do choose to look at sandwiches in a box and not on an open plate because they are totally different from each other. Please note :
Bento&co says :
The sandwich packed in your box has to be the main dish and serve as the focus point of your contribution.
We’ll pay special attention to the culinary and cooking qualities of the submitted bento. This year’s challenge is: how will you cook a great looking sandwich so it fits in a bento box?!
It is a bento contest after all. Your sandwich must be packed in a bento box. If you are aiming at winning this contest and dreaming of your trip to Kyoto already, you have to think very thoroughly. Packing sandwiches in a bento box and making it look yummy and appealing at the same time needs planning. I had a bento class on Internett 2 years ago and one of the lessons was a sandwich bento. If you were one of the participants and are reading this post, thank you for your participation in my course and I hope you will make a contest bento this year! I remember my students did not have any problem of cooking delicious sandwiches but most of them struggle with packing.
So how can we pack a sandwich bento well?
I will continue in Part 2.
PS … maybe these blog posts which I wrote in connection with Bento&co’s previous bento contests may be also helpful :
Please note that I am not serving as a judge nor taking any organizing part of this year’s contest. What I write here is totally my own personal view.