All about Japanese bento

A Bento is a takeaway or a meal packed at home in one serving, pretty common in Japanese cuisine. A traditional bento Contains rice, fish or meat, with marinated or cooked vegetables, usually in a box.


Small history of Japanese bento

Etymology of Bento

The etymology of the word "bento" would be as follows: "Bento" is derived from two older words, "He-Ben-Tō", which means meal, and the word "hako" which means box. The Origins of Bento Go back to the first cooking rice in Japan, almost 1500 years ago. Today, the Japanese call this dish O-Bento, the prefix "o" being synonymous with respect. This shows the civilizational importance given to this dish.


History of Bento

The inhabitants of Japan began to cook rice with various accompaniments in a bowl made of leaves called bamboo grass, a little less than a thousand years ago. Everything was carefully packaged inside this container by the valets in order to give the children of their Lord a instant meal If they were hungry during the day. It is clear that there are cultural similarities between the current Bento boxes and the Take away dishes from Japan ancient.

Where do Bento boxes come from?

The history of Japanese Bento boxes has experienced three important steps:

  • XII th century : The little land and the ovens used to cook the rice in the traditional Japanese dish called "Mochi".
  • XVIII th century: The modeled, ceramic or lacquered wood lunch boxes on the bento of tea shows, which are an important element of Japanese culture, which were mainly used during the previous centuries.
  • From 1950 to today : Proximity stores and supermarkets where people can buy lunches prepared in advance for their children. It is the traditional Japanese bento in what it has more modern, with its disposable or recyclable packaging.

But the tradition wants the bento to be a dish prepared with the remains of the day before by the mother, for her husband and children. The Japanese often use a reusable package (type solid plastic box).


How is the typical Japanese bento?

Typical Japanese bento Consists of steamed white rice (although fried rice dishes are also common), two or more sprinkled dishes and marinated vegetables called "Tsukemono". Here are some popular examples.



Popular bentos recipes

1) Tamagoyaki - A rolled omelette egg-based soy sauce, sugar, mirin, dashi, green onions and, optional, of Tenkasu (pieces of fried rice)

2) Norimaki - Rice wrapped in a Nori seaweed with other fittings like the umeboshi (salted and marinated Japanese plum), the Konbu (alga), etc.

3) Inari-Zushi - fried tofu sachets, stuffed with sushi rice, seasoned with sugar and soy sauce

4) Vegetable dishes - Any combination of namasu (slices of raw or whitish vegetables seasoned with vinegar or mirin, salt, sugar and soy sauce), Yasai itam (vegetables jumped seasoned simply with salt), etc.

Tips for preparing a real Japanese bento

There are today a lot of good Bentos all loans In local shops and supermarkets for those who do not have time to cook. However, if you want to learn to Cooking a real Japanese bento, here are a few tips

- Serve the rice in a compartmentalized container with separate compartments for different types of food. The different types of meat and vegetables should be cut into small pieces so that it can be eaten at one time with chopsticks or spoon.

- Separate each type of food by placing a plastic film or waxed paper between the layers, or then use an already compartmental dish.

- Choose low water, because it is one of the most common causes of deterioration. Otherwise, your beautiful meal will become an unpleasant show in a few hours!

- Add flavor to compensate for losses during cooking by marinating food beforehand.

- If you have to prepare the rice in advance, do not pack only just before eating it. Also be sure to place your service utensils next to children to serve themselves.

- If you are using a Bento box at room temperature for several hours, choose one with multiple partitions rather than two large compartments to avoid the multiplication of bacteria

- Avoid packing food with high odor, unless they are sealed or locked up by other items.

Bento-Japanese box


Bento, as we have seen, is a particularly important dish in Japanese culture. He took off with the development of work, structuring activity in the life of the Japanese. If today a lot of bentos are sold in disposable containers, Bento boxes remain highly appreciated arts, often exposed to the public view in Japanese homes. We are proud to offer you Elegant and refined bento boxes On Ramen-Nation. Our selection tries to transcribe as soon as possible this Japanese art of living.