The art of Japanese bento: tasty in cold, balanced nutrition, and quick to prepare

Bento is known as the Japanese lunch box. People love to create a tiny cosmology in such small space. 
The recent Lego Bento is a crazy example of bento-deco-fetish and I have to say that we don't have such detailed decorative bento every day. 

However, we concern a lot about the balance of nutrition in bento. Varieties of contents represents the many different foods and ways of preparation involved. Also, we do not spend much time to prepare in busy morning. Sometimes we use leftover, or we prepare in previous night. 

Therefore, bento should look colourful with many different contents and is to be prepared in short time. Besides, it should be tasty when it gets cold.  
That's the art of Bento. 

Today's bento contents and the main nutrition and calories of each is:

  • Japanese style fried chicken 70g: protein and fat (250 Kcal)
  • yam potato in Japanese style: carbohydratefibre (from yam and konjaku), beta-carotene (from carrot) (50 kcal)
  • cucumber, tomato and halloumi skewered  salad: vitamin Ebeta-carotene, fat and calcium in cheese (40 Kcal)
  • 1/2 Boiled egg: Vitamin D, E (38 Kcal)
  • 1/4 Apple: kalium, Vitamin E, C (20 Kcal)
  • rice: carbohydrate (260 Kcal)
  • dried shiso leaf to dress rice: solidum (2 Kcal)
Total calories: 680 Kcal
Total price: 2.4 pounds (1 for chicken, 0.4 for egg, 1 for the rest of veggies)

I seasoned chicken in previous night and also boiled an egg. In the morning, I deepfried chicken pieces in a small frying pan while skewering veggies. 
Rice and yam potato dish were leftover from previous dinner. 

In this morning, as usual, I spend less than 20 mins to complete this bento.

Another bento example is this.
 Contents, nutrition and carories  

  • Potato croquette: carbohydrate, fat, vitamin D,E,C, (326 Kcal)
  • Omelette with spinach and cheddar cheese: fat, carbohydrate  folic acid, Vitamin A, D, E, K, calcium (210 Kcal)
  • 7-8 Cherries: carbohydrate, Kalium, Vitamin D, (60 Kcal)
  • Cucumber, apple, halloumi cheese salad:vitamin E, fat and calcium (40 Kcal)
  • Rice: carbohydrate (250 Kcal)
  • Seaweed: fibre (nearly 0 Kcal)
  • Umeboshi: sodium, Kalium (2 Kcal)
Total: 688 Kcal
Total price: 2 pound (0.6 for cherries, 0.4 for egg, 1 for the rest of veggies)

I usually add varieties of veggie dishes but not just salad. Cooked and seasoned veggies taste nicer if served in cold. Whereas salad becomes soggy or dry hours later after the preparation. Skewering small-cut cucumbers, cheese, mini tomatoes, apples makes Bento cute, easy to pick and fun to make.

Let's compare my bento with other popular take away food.

McDonald's lunch (french fry, cheese burgar and diet coke)

French fry (135g): carbohydrate, fat, Kalium (454 Kcal)
Cheese burgar (122g): fat, carbohydrate, sodium, Kalium, calcium (323 Kcal)
Diet coke: sodium (0 Kcal)
Total calories: 777 Kcal
Total Price: 2.90 pounds

Pret A Manger's lunch (BLT sandwich and cappuccino)

Blt sandwich: wholegrain bread, bacon, tomatoes, salad leaves, mayonaise:
fat, carbohydrate, protein, fibre, sodium, Vitamin E (493 K cal, 2.50 pounds)
Cappuccino: carbohydrate, fat, calcium (231 Kcal, 1.79 pounds)
Total: 724 Kcal
Total cost: 4.29 pounds

They got higher calories and certainly additive but less varieties of nutrition either contents. You need to add fruit or salad. Also, they are more expensive.

I introduce one of the most popular Bento contents -Karaage, Japanese fried chicken


Cut chicken thigh into large bite sized

Season the chicken with soy-sauce, mirin 1 tablespoon each, and grated ginger and a clove of garlic.
All are done in a zip-bag.

Close the zip and leave the bag in the fridge overnight. 

Good morning! Start to cook! Heat up a small frying pan and power vegetable oil in 1 cm depth.
Remove the liquid from the bag, take out the chicken and wipe the extra moisture with kitchen paper.
Dust each piece with cornflour.

Deepfry all pieces for 2 mins each side over medium temperature.
While deepfrying the chicken, cut cucumber and tomato into small bite sized and skewer them with a toothpick.
Pack everything tightly!!
Otherwise contents will play football while they are carried in underground.

Bento is ready to go!!

If you need to make bento every day, it is hard. 

However, if you don't, better to make it sometimes. That's the best way to enjoy making bento.

Besides, the person who eats your bento appreciates it more when it happens occasionally. 

When I need to make bento everyday, I'll create more ways to enjoy making it. 

The art of bento will be continued.

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