Two also-ran quick bentos made in under 15 minutes

While I do try to keep a good stash of pre-made food to quickly assemble bentos in the morning, sometimes I’ve just run out, or am not in the mood to use whatever I have in the freezer, or leftovers in the fridge. That doesn’t mean it’s not possible to assemble a bento quickly using fresh ingredients and pantry items. Here are a couple that I made last week. The only premade ‘stash’ I used was frozen brown rice.

Quickie colorful scrambled egg bento

In this bento: brown rice, cucumber and cabbage ‘instant pickle’, scrambled egg with some ground beef, red pepper, and green onion.


The red pepper and green onion (1/2 a pepper, about a tablespoon of chopped up green onion) are sautéed in olive oil. To this about 2 tablespoons of ground beef are added and browned, seasoning added, then finally two eggs dropped in to make a sort of rough omelette (sort of like a malformed Western omelette). Mound on top of the defrosted rice.

For the ‘instant pickle’, roughly chop up a couple of cabbage leaves, thinly slice about 1/3rd of a seedless-type cucumber (the kind that comes in shrinkwrap plastic), sprinkle on some sea salt and massage with your hands. Drain off excess juice and add a bit of lemon juice and dried red chili pepper.

Tip: When you need just a little bit of meat but have a big frozen lump, just microwave on the DEFROST setting for 2-3 minutes until you can scrape or break off as much as you need. Wrap up the rest and put in the refrigerator, and use it for dinner or the next day.

Quickle salmon bento

In this bento: brown rice, small salmon filet, sautéed baby spinach and sweet corn


I periodically buy some salmon and make salted salmon (shiozake) with it. But on this occasion I just used some fresh unprocessed salmon, seasoned on both sides and popped into a toaster oven for about 5 minutes.

The other part of the bento is just as easy to make. Heat up a pan with a little olive oil, add a couple of tablespoons of frozen or canned sweet corn kernels, add two big handfuls of prewashed baby spinach leaves and sauté until the spinach is wilted. Season with salt and pepper.

As you can see, both are simple two-item (besides rice) bentos. Although they are quickly assembled, I did try to make sure they would look appetizing by including red, green and yellow ingredients. That’s the key to making any bento box look literally good enough to eat.

(Also-ran bentos or botsuben on Just Bento are bentos that didn’t quite make the official numbered list for whatever reason (not attractive enough, nothing new to say, etc.) but might be of interest anyway! They are just some of my everyday bentos. See more also-ran bentos. )

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Hi Maki- While I like

Hi Maki-

While I like looking at your bento, I have to say I love your also-ran bentos! They just seem much more attainable for me, and still really yummy. Just wanted to say thanks for posting them.


I’m glad you enjoy them!

I’m glad you enjoy them! :)

While I’m sure it’s been

While I’m sure it’s been explained before, does also-ran mean “speed bento” or something akin to it?

Also-ran is just a term I

Also-ran is just a term I use…it’s not bento vernacular or anything :) It just means bento examples that I don’t fully explain with timelines and full recipes etc. (the numbered bentos), but just do a quick show-and-tell on.

omg - LOVE these!!!!!

I have been tinkering with bentos - and amassing bento boxes and gear!!!

I am now ready to really work this!!!!!!!!!

Your recipes here are EXACTLY what I need!


I do also love your simple

I do also love your simple bentos, it is always a source of inspiration.

Salmon to work???

Hi Maki!

I’ve never been a fan of salmon, but I do like a decent fish dishes. A problem about fish dishes is that they tend to get really smelly, especially after being kept in a container for a time. Once the container is opened, heads will turn to my direction with stink noses.

Any tips and trick to avoid this problem?

Anyway, I love sauteed spinach and other leafy veg! I usually sauteed the garlic with olive oil, add oyster sauce, soy sauce, and sugar before adding the veg of my choice (spinach, pokchoy, and water convolvulus work fine). The idea to mix it with sweet corn kernels is a great idea that I definitely will try!

Fish in bento

First off, the fish should be absolutely fresh to start with. If it smells at all ‘fishy’ when it’s raw, it is no longer fresh. If you have trouble getting very fresh fish, it’s best to choose other proteins for your bento. (This is why I don’t have a lot of fish recipes here or on Just Hungry, because the availability of very fresh sea fish in Switzerland is limited, especially compared to Japan, or even to what I could get in NY where I lived before. But we can get good salmon!)

If you can get fresh salmon, you might try salting it which cures it lightly. If cooking fresh salmon, you can try sprinkling it with one or more of the following smell-reducing ingredients while cooking: sake or wine or mirin, grated or sliced fresh ginger, lemon juice, vinegar. (also see the role of alcohol, onion and ginger).

Also Ran

I think “also ran” refers to racing. The winners are announced. And the others “also ran.”


That looks so good! I will try the recipe for salted salmon, that’s been in the back of my mind for ages now. Nobody in the house but me likes it, but maybe if I salt it I can keep it and just eat little bits of it myself for lunch.

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