Bento Boxes, those beautiful, creative, delicious looking lunch boxes used in Japan and throughout the world, are now captured in a new cookbook: 501 Bento Box Lunches.
Published in 2009 by Graffito Press, the box-sized book features bento photos, recipes, and directions created by fifteen authors. Each has a personal reason for his or her fascination with bentos, for this amazing collection of box lunch choices. They range from a professional bento designer, to food writer, mother, weaver, copywriter, and more.
According to the publisher, authentic bento boxes contain food in a 3.2.1 ratio – three parts starches, two parts vegetables, one part protein. But, with 501 bento box recipes there are a number that don’t fit those guidelines exactly. However, they are all beautiful, colorful, and appetizing – things every lunch should be but are sometimes lacking. And, it is amazing how foods creatively presented take on a new importance. Spinach Bento, for example, has sections of stir-fried spinach, cooked rice and red shiso furikake topped with nori stars, egg pancake rolls, red pepper slices, and green grapes – a scene in red, green and white with a variety of textures. Then there are bentos including food not normally associated with Japan like the Lion Bento that includes a chicken nugget, hot dog, steamed broccoli, rice, and cherry tomato.
Some are just fun to look at like the Panda Bento featuring cheese, pineapple, salami, cucumber and bell pepper. And some are just fun to eat like the Korean BBQ Chicken Bento, or just silly like the Happy Worm Bento. There are holiday bentos, traditional bentos, sushi bentos, burger bentos, meatloaf bentos – well, you get the idea. With 501 to choose from, there’s a bento for just about any food.
Available now in bookstores at the soft cover price of $19.95, “501 Bento Boxes” is sure to brighten all those dull lunches in the New Year and beyond. Happy New Year
Phyllis Louise Harris is a cookbook author, food writer and cooking teacher specializing in Asian foods. She is founder of the Asian Culinary Arts Institutes Ltd. dedicated to the preservation, understanding and enjoyment of the culinary arts of the Asia Pacific Rim. For information about ACAI’s programs call 612-813-1757 or visit the website at www.asian culinaryarts.com.