The first Japanese bento boxes date back to around the 12th century. They were designed for the first “pack and go” meals, which at that time consisted primarily of rice. Bento boxes are so practical and so beautifully designed that they remain popular for meals on the go in today’s fast-paced lifestyles.
What Are Bento Lunch Boxes?
The word “bento” has its roots in a Japanese word that means convenient. Convenient is the perfect description of a bento lunch box. A bento box is a reusable, compartmented lunch box that can hold a meal consisting of a main dish, along with some side items, and keep it fresh for hours. In one compact box, you can make yourself a nutritionally-balanced, visually appealing meal that stays as fresh as it was when you packed it. The leak proof compartments fit together snugly and nothing leaks. You can pack yogurt, applesauce, dips, sauces or other gooey foods right next to other items with no worries about leaks.
The convenience of bento lunch boxes has made them very popular with people who like to take their lunch to school or work. It also saves you money and helps you stick to a clean and healthy diet. You can pack a variety of food into a small space.
The convenience of a bento lunch box doesn’t stop there. You can cook something the night before, put it in one of the bento box compartments and toss it in the freezer. In the morning, take it from the freezer and load it into your bento box. By lunchtime, it will be ready to eat. You never have to wrap anything in foil or plastic wrap. Simply pack the compartments with your food choices and go. When you get home, cleaning up is easy – just toss the compartments into your dishwasher and they will be ready to use the next day.
How to Make Sushi for Your Bento Lunch Box
Your bento lunch box can hold any kind of food you want. But why not give a nod to the Japanese bento box tradition and pack it with some delicious sushi? Sushi is rooted in the Japanese tradition, but modern, western sushi is the product of some creative and cutting edge chefs.
You can make sushi at home with the right tools and ingredients. You will need short-grain Japanese rice, nori (seaweed wrappers) and a bamboo sushi mat. You should have no trouble finding these at your local Asian supermarket or online. Here are the instructions for making basic sushi to pack in your bento lunch box:
For Sushi Rice:
- 2 cups uncooked Japanese short-grain rice
- 1 piece kombu (dried kelp) (2 x 2 inches)
- 4 Tbsp rice vinegar (or sushi vinegar and omit sugar and salt).
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp kosher/sea salt
Fillings of Your Choice:
- 1 cucumber
- Carrot sticks
- Avocado slices
- 7 oz sashimi-grade tuna (yield 12 rolls)
- 1 box natto (fermented soybean) (yield 2 rolls)
Tezu (vinegared hand-dipping water):
- ¼ cup water
- 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
- Cook the rice and let it cool.
- Cut the tuna and filling ingredients into ¼- ½” slices and then cut into ¼- ½” thick long strips.
- Take out the natto from the container and season with soy sauce or seasoning that came with the package. Mix everything up until it’s slimy and bubbly.
- Make Tezu by combining ¼ cup water and 1 Tbsp rice vinegar in a small bowl. Dip your hands into this before handling the rice to keep it from sticking to your hands.
- Cut nori in half to make long rectangles using scissors.
- Put the nori half sheet on the bamboo mat, shiny side facing down, with one of the long sides close to the back edge of the mat.
- Dip your hands into the Tezu water and wet a measuring cup. Use the cup to scoop ½ cup of sushi rice and put it into your hand. Spread the rice across the nori, leaving a 1” space along the top edge of the nori.
- Place the filling ingredients in the center on top of the rice.
- Hold the filling down using your fingers and with one swift movement, grasp the mat and fold/roll it with the nori over the filling and to the edge of the rice and hold it there.
- Using the mat, gently squeeze and tighten the roll with your fingers to shape it into a long roll.
- Lift the sushi mat and rotate the roll once to seal the edge of nori. As before, gently squeeze and tighten the roll with your fingers.
- Dampen a knife with a wet towel and cut the sushi roll in half, using a push-pull motion. Dampen the knife again and cut the rolls into smaller pieces.
- Pack the pieces into one of your bento box compartments. Pack condiments such as soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger into the other compartments. Store your packed bento box in the fridge until you are ready to eat.
Reach Out to the Bento Lunch Box Experts at Kangovou
Your bento box makes fresh meals on the go a breeze. Get more information from the bento box experts at Kangovou. They can help you select the right bento box for your needs and give you recipe ideas for fresh, healthy eating any time of day.