Bento Bowl

Bento Bowl

Bento for those who does not know is a term for defining a packed meal (home or takeaway) in Japanese cuisine, similar to “Baon” in Philippines, “Dosirak” in Korea or “Biandang” in Taiwan. Traditionally a bento uses a boxed shaped container which is filled with different food items such as rice, meat, vegetables (pickled, cooked and uncooked). Knowing how Japanese food are good in presentation these packed meals are arranged in a very presentable manner, some even go extreme and different styles are used like “kyaraben” or “character bento” where they decorate these food items like anime or manga characters another approach would be “oekakiben” or “”picture bento” where it is decorated like people, animals, houses, plants and flowers.

Though the Bento arrangement may look modern, the origins of it can be traced back during the 12th century (Kamakura Period) when cooked and dried rice called hoshi-ii was invented, this rice dish can be eaten as is or is boiled with water, it is then stored in small bags. Then during the 17th century (Edo period) it became wide spread where bento became very common for travellers as they wrapped their food items in bamboo leaves and even in wooden bamboo boxes. Cookbooks during this time also published the ways to cook, prepare and pack bento food items. Before World War II it became really popular to students and sometimes bento boxes became social status symbols as different expensive bento boxes were used by rich students while wooden ones are used by the poor. After World War II the practice of bringing bento to school declined as schools provided uniform food for all students and teachers to avoid these differences. Then 1980′s came and bento become popular again thanks to the help of microwave oven and convenience stores where bentos are conveniently sold in over the counter packages and easily reheated.

For this post we will not use a bento box but a bento bowl, it contains the same thing as what a bento box can hold but we will serve it in a bowl, after all we don’t need to pack this one. I am not sure whether there is such a thing in Japan but I got the idea of bento bowl in a Japanese Fast Food restaurant (St. Pierre’s Sushi) where I always had lunch with my ex-colleagues before. For this bento I will be serving Chicken Teriyaki, Tonkatsu (pork cutlet) on stick, Japanese Slaw and rice.

Ingredients (Tonkatsu on Stick)

8 pcs pork tenderloin, cut into strips
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 eggs, beaten
salt
pepper
oil

Ingredients (Chicken Teriyaki) – see ingredients here

Ingredients (Japanese Slaw)

1/4 head purple cabbage, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, thinly sliced
1 white onion, thinly sliced
2 avocadoes, cubed
3/4 cup Japanese or American Style mayonnaise
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp cayenne pepper

Method (Tonkatsu on Stick)

  1. Tenderize meat by pounding it with the back of a cleaver then season it with salt and ground black pepper.
  2. Place flour in a plate, bread crumbs on a separate plate and beaten eggs on another plate.
  3. Prepare a deep fryer and heat oil to 180C.
  4. Dredge each cutlet in flour, then in egg and finally in breadcrumbs. Carefully place them in skewers and place each pork cutlet in a deep fryer. Cook until golden brown, once cooked transfer into a paper towel lined wire rack.

Method (Chicken Teriyaki) – see method here

Method (Japanese Slaw)

  1. Soak shredded cabbage in a bowl of ice cold water for at least an hour. This removes the cabbage smell and makes it crisp.
  2. Mix all vegetables together in a salad bowl.
  3. Prepare you dressing by mixing together mayonnaise, lemon juice and cayenne pepper.

Method (Bento Bowl)

  1. Place freshly cooked jasmine rice at the bottom of the bowl.
  2. Add a scoopful of chicken teriyaki on one side of the bowl, add two pieces of Tonkatsu on Stick on the other side then add Japanese slaw on one.
  3. Top with the hot mayonnaise dressing.

Bento Bowl Wide

24 Responses

  1. That looks delicious.

  2. Denise Browning says:

    Wow, Raymund!!! This bento looks FANTASTIC. I wish I had a bento like that now.

  3. Kristy says:

    I like the presentation here. I’m so used to seeing bento in boxes. This is very pretty. I love the arrangement of ginger over top too. Yum!

  4. What a gorgeous photo of the bento box! In India, the bento is known as the tiffin and its very popular with tiffin delivery men and everything!
    I love the idea of the bento box but my family wants to eat quickly at lunch and would never sit through a whole bento.
    I however, would thoroughly enjoy it if it looked as good as yours.

  5. This is the perfect bento box. Whether or not I need to bring “baon”, I’m making these chicken teriyaki skewers and Japanese slaw! Thanks for sharing – Ang sarap!

  6. Love that pork loin on a stick!

  7. One dish meals are a big advantage when we are looking for something quick and easy. This is a beautiful bento bowl — quite yummy!

  8. patsy says:

    First of all, I hate you! Kidding ;) I just discovered your blog this morning when I was looking for a picture of Nilupak and now it’s almost 1 am Texas time and I’m still pinning recipes I will try. I was living in LA before moving to Austin and had no problem finding a good Filipino place there but here it’s impossible. I need to cook if I want a good one.

    Thank God for your blog!

  9. mjskit says:

    Bento box or bowl, it doesn’t matter – this look delicious! Love the use of both pork and chicken, making this a nice high protein dish. I’m one of those that needs her protein! :) Interesting story on the history of bento box – the 12th century! Wow! Thanks!

  10. I love the idea of a bowl instead of a box for bento! And yours looks so great. Really informative post – exceptionally well done. Thanks so much.

  11. Wish I was having this for dinner!

  12. Pretty *and* delicious sounding!

  13. I think I like the presentation in a bowl better.. it’s more artistic from my point of view.. and I’d love to try this!

  14. Carolyn Chan says:

    Your bento looks delicious Ray !

  15. jlaceda says:

    Wow! What a beautiful bowl of food! Japanese food has always been close to my heart (I was obsessed with it as a child). This one takes me back to a good time and place in my life :) I want to dig in!

  16. Amira says:

    This looks very healthy and colorful I like the Chicken Teriyaki recipe I bet they are waay better than the store bought ones I get ;-|

  17. Kiran says:

    I would love this for dinner! Oh, right about now!

  18. So many of my favourites and all in the one! I rarely make a teriyaki at home but with a new BBQ I often forget I can grill things to perfection outside! Pickled ginger & mayonnaise, the Japanese got it so right :)

  19. This looks really Good!
    I am loving the meat on the stick… I am such a fan for anything skewer..LOL
    Yum!

  20. Charles says:

    Now that definitely looks like something I’d like to have for lunch! Loving the sound of the mayonnaise dressing, but then I’ve got a mayonnaise fetish… so unhealthy, I know :(

  21. Shirley says:

    Yum!! Everything in this bowl looks good, from the tonkatsu to the mayo dressing to the veg.

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