Bento by Yuko and Noriko
ISBN 9781631067303 - Race Point Publishing Hardcover $15.99
Review copy courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley.
From the creators of the website Japanese Cooking 101, Bento (a newly reformatted edition of Simply Bento) is a complete collection of over 50 delicious and healthy box lunch ideas for everyone in the family.
Ready to make lunch quick, easy, and tasty? Japanese bento boxes are single-portion packed lunches, perfect for anyone looking to save money and eat a balanced, satisfying meal for lunch every single day.
Bento features over 100 healthy and delicious recipes—including mains and sides—that you can make every day of the week and mix and match using a combination of traditional and nontraditional ingredients. Learn about different types of bento boxes and accessories, how to assemble your box, and everyday items you will need in your pantry, as well as how to plan ahead so that your morning prep is a breeze.
Bento shows you the finer points of bento-making, and there is something for everyone: Classic Japanese BentoSandwich Bento Sushi and Onigiri BentoNoodle BentoPopular Japanese Bento10-Minute Bento Rice and Grain Bowl BentoLow-Carb BentoVegan BentoBento for Special Occasions (including for the first day of school and Halloween!)Bento at Home So, if you're in the mood for Chicken Teriyaki, Ramen, Shrimp Avocado Pasta Salad, Cauliflower Fried Rice, Falafel, Sweet and Sour Meatballs, Tempura, or Chicken Nuggets (for the kids), Bentohas the recipes—plus much more!
Bento starts by giving the history of bento boxes in Japan and reasons for their continued popularity. I remember being fascinated by bento boxes in the 1980s as I had become fascinated with Japanese products and culture. When we visited Japan a few years ago, I loved ordering lunch bento boxes and buying bento boxes from their department stores. The many different items in small portions made it possible to taste different things and to switch tastes. I'd seen photos of bento boxes that people would prepare for their children but it looked complicated and time consuming. So, I found Yuko and Noriko's practical advice very helpful and encouraging.
Remember to avoid temperatures 40 to 140F. When packing leftovers reheat them in the morning to freshen the food and kill bacteria. Allow the food to cool completely before closing the lid. Try adding natural antibiotics like salt, vinegar, ginger, or seasoned or marinated vegetable dishes.
Their tips on packing attractively help establish a method. Use healthy edibles like lettuce to compartmentalize food. Pack tightly with no space for the food to move around - use small vegetables to fill the spaces. Eat the rainbow and pack with contrasting colors. Vegetable sticks and salads that are prepared for the bento can be served during breakfast to encourage us to eat healthy.
Yuko and Noriko include recipes for different types of dashi, rice, tamagoyaki (my favorite egg dish!), noritama furikake (egg and roasted seaweed seasoning), as well as popular and delicious bento dishes. These include but are not limited to: Chicken Teriyaki Bento, Beef Roll-up Bento, Tsukune (Ground Chicken) Bento, Grilled Mackerel Bento, Beef Shigureni Bento, Sukiyaki Bento, Salmon Teriyaki Bento, Pork Shogayaki Bento, Sushi Burrito Bento, Onigiri Bento, Sushi Roll Bento, Spam Musubi Bento, Inari Sushi Bento, Yaki Onigiri Bento, Shrimp Avocado Pasta Salad Bento, Cold Somen Nuodle Bento, Yakiniku Bento, Tonkatsu Sandwich Bento, Chicken Nuggets Bento, Sweet and Sour Meatballs Bento, Okonomiyaki Bento, Chicken Karaage Bento, Omurice Bento, Oyakodon Bento.
Our family was particularly happy with the Vegan Bento recipes: Tofu Steak Salad Bento, Falafel Bento, Vegetable Miso Soup Bento, Spaghetti with Lima Beans and Cabbage Bento, Tofu Poke Bento and Hijiki Gohan Bento. There are fun bento boxes that are geared towards special occasions like the 1st day of school, Valentine's Day, Halloween, Birthdays, etc.
Since I do most of the cooking, I was very happy with the recipes for the small cold vegetable dishes. The recipes are simple and I prepare a batch for the week and just add them to our meals to increase our veggie intake. I especially loved the Daikon & Carrot Nimono, Miso Eggplant and Shishito Peppers, Broccoli Namul, Sauteed Green Beans, Carrot Kinipira, Carrot Namul, Pickled Daikon Radish, and Fresh Fruits Jelly.
Overall, this is a useful book for those who are looking to up their lunch game. We don't have children to cook for so I can only imagine how cheering it would be for a child to have a bento box for lunch. I know my husband and I enjoy them.
About the Authors:
Yuko launched japanesecooking101.com with Noriko in 2012 to show the world how to make fresh, simple, and tasty Japanese meals that can be prepared at home by everyone. Yuko grew up in Japan watching her mother and grandmother prepare food at home. Today she creates recipes based on those memories, as well as her own years of experience cooking at home for her own family. She lives in San Diego, California.
Noriko launched japanesecooking101.com with Yuko in 2012 to show the world how to make fresh, simple, and tasty Japanese meals that can be prepared at home by everyone. Noriko is a professionally trained pastry chef who grew up in Japan watching her mother and grandmother prepare food at home. Today she creates recipes based on those memories as well as her own years of experience cooking at home for her own family. She lives in San Diego, California.