Bento no. 18: 3-color soboro bento


Bento contents:

  • 1 cup (about 220ml) brown rice (220cal)
  • 2 Tbs. beef sorobo (80cal)
  • 2 Tbs. iri tamago (70cal)
  • Blanched Swiss chard leaves (5cal)
  • Swiss chard stalks sautéed in butter (30cal)
  • Hijiki with bean curd (50cal)
  • 3 fresh lichees or litchi (15cal)

Total calories (approx): 475 (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: 15-20 minutes in the morning, 20-30 previously

Type: Japanese

This bento relies on two staples (plus premade frozen rice): meat soboro, and stewed hijiki seaweed with carrots and tofu.. 3-color soboro (sanshoku soboro 三色そぼろ) is a classic bento combination, and as you can see it’s quite colorful. To eat it yo mix the toppings into the rice. You may want to bring a spoon along to make eating the mixed rice easier.

This is the man sized version of the bento. It just has a bit more rice (about 1 1/2 cups) and a bit more topping.

The ‘green’ part of the 3-color can be something else, such as finely chopped green beans, green peas, and so on.



Per bento:

  • 2 to 3 Tbs. premade meat soboro
  • 2-3 leaves of Swiss chard or bok choy (or 4-5 leaves for two portions)
  • 1/2 tsp. butter (or 1 tsp. for 2 portions)
  • 1 cup or 1 1/2 cups rice (frozen or cooked on timer in a rice cooker)
  • Iri tamago made with 1 egg (or 2 eggs if you’re making for two people, as I did)
  • Some premade stewed hijiki with carrots and tofu
  • 3 fresh lichees (litchi) or other fruit


You’ll be using three burners on the stove.

  • Pack the rice in the bento box (if it’s frozen, de-frost first) and let cool. Be sure to leave enough space on top for the toppings.
  • Boil up a kettle full of hot water.
  • Cut the green leaves off the chard. Chop up the stalks.
  • Heat up a non-stick frying pan. Add the chard stalks and a little hot water. Sauté until the stalks are tender. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper, and add the butter.
  • Add boiling water to a pan, and put in the greens.
  • Mix the iri tamago mixture together. Heat up another saucepan.
  • Drain the greens and refresh with cold water.
  • Make the iri tamago.
  • Squeeze out the greens. Chop finely. Put in the pan that you cooked the stalks in (push the stalks to one side) and stir around briefly to dry out.
  • Pack the stalks and the hijiki in the bento box. bento_18_soboro.jpg
  • Arrange the soboro, iri tamago and chopped greens neatly on top of the rice. If you have trouble keeping it neat, use a piece of clean paper folded in half (for stability), and use as a guide. Any soboro that spills on top of the paper can be tipped over on top. The red stuff on top of the soboro is pickled red ginger (ben sho-ga).
  • Pack a few lichees or other fresh fruit (a small apple is good, or a clementine, etc.) If you haven’t tried fresh lichees, please try to find them - they are delicious! You can usually find them at Asian groceries. (Swiss shoppers can find them at larger Migros stores.)



It actually only took me about 15 minutes to assemble this bento, but I allowed for a bit more time to arrange the 3 colored toppings on the rice.

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i <3 your site.

i <3 your site.

thanks! :)

thanks! :)

Great minds think alike! ;)

Great minds think alike! ;) I’m having this for lunch on Friday, except my version shall employ green beans.

Also, I’ve been using your bento planner for the past two weeks and I love it! It’s saving me time and money, both of which are valuable resources for me.

Very helpful

Hi Maki, I really like that timeline you have for preparing the bento. It’s super easy to visualize the process in that format. :)


It’s alwas great to hear how the site and things are helping :) Clover, the weekly planner helps me to save a lot of money too!

3 color

hi maki, i want to ask, i once see something like this but the color not brown yelow green but pink, yellow and green. do you know to make saboro with these color???? thxs

The pink is usually

The pink is usually something called denbu or sakura denbu - dried cod that is colored pink with food coloring. The yellow is usually the egg as described here, and the green can vary - bright green is usually chopped up snap peas (or mangetout as they are known in Europe) .


I made this last night for today’s bento and it was so good! I did sub kale for chard b/c I couldn’t find chard but it was still all really delicious! I think it’ll be a staple!

Re: Bento no. 18: 3-color soboro bento

Thank you for sharing this recipe, i will try it today if I can. How can I get this book in Mexico City, Distrito Federal?
wonderful site. best regards!

Re: Bento no. 18: 3-color soboro bento

Maki-san, this recipe worked out for me well. Though I couldn't get fresh Lychee (due to it not being summer quite yet), a tangerine went with it quite nicely.

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