how-to

Natural ways to make your bento colorful

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If you love character bentos (kyaraben), you may wonder how the creators manage to color some of the elements. Do they use food dyes? Not necessarily. Bentobako.net, called Ranchi-ryuu Obentoubako Community (Lunch-style Bento Community) is an attractive and very useful bento resource site in Japanese. One of the most interesting sections that they have recently set up is the Bento Coloring Dictionary, a reader-contributed section with lots of ideas for making various bento elements colorful without resorting solely to food dyes. Here are some of the ideas listed there, arranged by color, with my notes in parentheses.

I’ve added the formulas for deriving 3 (or 4) different colors from one ingredient - red cabbage juice! continue reading...

Reader question: How to get rid of that plastic taste in bento boxes?

Reader Sandy sent in this question recently. She’s having trouble with certain bento boxes, which are making her food taste like plastic!

Hi. I’ve recently begun collecting and using bento boxes (which I adore), but I’ve had some troubles when eating out of them. Everytime I eat something, it tastes like plastic.

Read more about Sandy’s dilemma after the jump. continue reading...

Making food for your bento that tastes good cold

One barrier to bentos for a lot of people might be the whole idea of eating cooked food that’s cold, or at room temperature. The basic bento in Japan is meant to be eaten at room temperature, and is still very tasty (insulated/keep-hot bento containers are not that widespread in use, despite the efforts of manufacturers). Aside from some food that’s designated otherwise, we are geared to thinking that food that’s cooked should be hot. It’s true that food that’s meant to be eaten hot can taste blah when cold. There are some tricks to use when making food that you intend to eat in a non-heated bento though. continue reading...

Bento decoration: Gerbera-like wiener flowers

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(See the Bento Decoration master page for my general thinking on decorations.)

Japanese people love wiener sausages. They appear quite often in home cooking recipes. Wieners are the Play Doh of the bento making world since they are colorful and easy to manipulate.

I don’t like to use wieners their relatives very often, though living in a Germanic area of Europe we can get pretty good ones that aren’t dyed a bright pink and actually contain real meat. But once in a while they do appear in my bentos. continue reading...

Bento decoration techniques

This is the master page for the Bento Decoration Techiques section. While decorative techniques can be time consuming, they can make your bento box a lot more fun to open. continue reading...

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Getting started with bento making: Variety and saving money

A main reason many people like to, or want to, make bento lunches is for more variety, to save money, and to have some fun too. In my mind these aspects are quite interconnected.

There are three sources for filling your bento box. One is food that you make specifically for it, usually in the morning or perhaps the night before. The second is leftovers from other meals. The third is with stock or staple items (aka johbisai). The key to keeping a good variety in your bento meals is to use all three sources in in a smart way. continue reading...

About rice cookers

A heads up just in case you read Just Bento but not Just Hungry, you may be interested in the new post up there, Answering some rice cooker questions.

Bento tips via Twitter

onigirikorokoro.gifIf you are a Twitter user, I’ve started to post site updates and short bento or food related things there. I’ll try to update, er I mean tweet, at least several times a week, or whenever an idea strikes me that’s too short perhaps for a full post.

Update: I’ve divided my Twittering to two accounts. The @justbento has site updates for both Just Bento and Just Hungry, plus bento-related tweets occasionally, while @makiwi is where I tweet about whatever is on my mind, at random. So, follow one, or both if you dare!

continue reading...