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Meet your hosts!

Marc Matsumoto
Marc Matsumoto

Marc Matsumoto is a private chef, culinary consultant and TV presenter with a base of clients around the world. Born in Japan, and raised between the US and Australia, Marc developed an early love for travel and a broad palette of global flavors. He believes that by making wholesome delicious food accessible to people of all backgrounds, the world becomes a better place.

Maki Ogawa
Maki Ogawa

Maki Ogawa's books have been translated into three languages and are sold around the world. Yum Yum Bento Box is credited with starting the recent bento boom. She also loves to post pictures and recipes on social networks like Facebook and Instagram and she's been featured by news outlets from around the world. Many of her bento ideas come about when she's cooking for her two sons. Fans love her delicious, easy-to-make, kawaii bento ideas!

Bento Recipes

Rainbow Kakiage Bento
BENTO RECIPES
from Episode 12 / Season 5.
Dry Nikujaga Bento
(675 kcal)
Marc Matsumotoby Marc Matsumoto

Bento contents:

Makes enough to pack into 2-3 bentos

Ingredients: Dry Nikujaga

  • 125 g baby potatoes, halved
  • 50 g carrots, cut rangiri
  • 50 g onions, cut into 2 cm squares
  • 50 g Romano beans, cut into 3 cm pieces
  • 150 g tender beef, cut into 3 cm pieces
  • Potato starch, for dusting
  • 3 tbsp 3S sauce
  • 1/4 tsp powdered dashi granules
  • Oil for frying

Other bento items:

  • White rice
  • Half a boiled egg
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Frill lettuce

Directions:

1. Add 3 cm of oil to a pan and heat it to 170 degrees Celsius. Prepare a paper towel lined rack.

2. Fry the potatoes and carrots together until they are tender. You can use a toothpick to test them. Drain them on the paper towels.

3. Fry the onions and beans together until the beans are vibrant green. Drain them on the paper towels.

4. Dust the beef with the potato starch and fry until light brown. Drain on the paper towels.

5. Add the 3S sauce and powdered dashi to a frying pan. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat.

6. Add the fried vegetables, and toss to coat evenly with the sauce.

7. Add the beef, and continue tossing until everything is glazed, and there is no liquid remaining in the pan.

Sweet-and-Sour Chicken Buns Bento
BENTO RECIPES
from Episode 12 / Season 5.
Colorful Shumai Bento
(For adults 703 kcal, For kids 366 kcal)
Maki Ogawaby Maki Ogawa

Bento contents:

  • Rice (260 g for adults, 135 g for kids)
  • Colorful Shumai
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Butterhead lettuce
  • Broccoli
  • Nori
  • Orange wedges (for kids)
  • Canned corn (for kid’s decoration)
  • Boiled edamame (for kid’s decoration)

Ingredients: Colorful Shumai
(yields 12-13 shumai, enough for 3-4 bentos)

  • 160 g ground pork
  • 50 g onion
  • Canned corn, as needed
  • Frozen boiled edamame, as needed
  • A small piece of ginger (6 g)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • A pinch of sugar
  • 2 tsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp potato starch
  • Oil for frying

Directions: Colorful Shumai

1. Mince the onion and grate the ginger.

2. Mix the ground pork, onion, ginger, sesame oil, sugar, oyster sauce, and potato starch in a bowl, and knead well.

3. Form into meat balls, about 15 g each.

4. Sprinkle a generous amount of potato starch over the corn kernels and edamame.

5. Use your hands to moisten and cover the meat balls with corn kernels and edamame.

6. Sprinkle the wrapped meat balls with potato starch. Heat the oil to about 170 degrees Celsius and fry for 3-4 minutes.

Bento Topics: France
BENTO TOPICS
from Episode 12/ Season 5.
UK
  • Today, from the UK capital of London, where vegan and plant-based cuisine is the rage.

    Today, from the UK capital of London, where vegan and plant-based cuisine is the rage.

  • The top menu item at a popular cafe specializing in this healthy cuisine is a vegan plate of smoked paprika hummus. It's accompanied by tahini sauce and roasted falafel made with sweet potatoes and quinoa.

    The top menu item at a popular cafe specializing in this healthy cuisine is a vegan plate of smoked paprika hummus. It's accompanied by tahini sauce and roasted falafel made with sweet potatoes and quinoa.

  • This is influential bento maker, Sara. Five years ago, she started posting photos of her plant-based bentos on the internet. After receiving a huge response, she published books that have helped spread the bento culture.

    This is influential bento maker, Sara. Five years ago, she started posting photos of her plant-based bentos on the internet. After receiving a huge response, she published books that have helped spread the bento culture.

  • Sara grows over 30 different kinds of vegetables and herbs in her garden. Today, she’s using Chinese chive flowers, Swiss chard, and cherry tomatoes for her salad.

    Sara grows over 30 different kinds of vegetables and herbs in her garden. Today, she’s using Chinese chive flowers, Swiss chard, and cherry tomatoes for her salad.

  • Her original banana bread made is from scratch. She adds oats, cashew nuts, hemp seed, miso, and hijiki seaweed to the dough, and sweetens it with pears and bananas.

    Her original banana bread made is from scratch. She adds oats, cashew nuts, hemp seed, miso, and hijiki seaweed to the dough, and sweetens it with pears and bananas.

  • It all makes for a beautiful plant-based bento that showcases the bounties of nature.

    It all makes for a beautiful plant-based bento that showcases the bounties of nature.

Rainbow Kakiage Bento
BENTO RECIPES
from Episode 11 / Season 5.
Chicken Tender Rolls Bento
(660 kcal)
Marc Matsumotoby Marc Matsumoto

Bento contents:

Makes enough to pack into 3 bentos

Ingredients: Chicken Tender Rolls

  • 30 g miso
  • 20 g minced walnuts
  • 15 g light brown sugar
  • 6 chicken tenders, about 400 g
  • 2 large umeboshi, about 30 g pits removed
  • 6 small green shiso leaves
  • 6 large basil leaves
  • 2 tsp potato starch (for dusting)
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp sake

Other bento items:

  • Green and Yellow Zucchi Rounds sauteed with Basil Pesto
  • Potato Salad
  • Muscat grapes
  • Kale
  • Rice (under the rolls)

Directions:

1. Make the walnut miso by stirring the miso, minced walnuts, and sugar together until it forms a uniform paste.

2. Butterfly the chicken tenders by cutting a slit parallel with your cutting board down the center of each tender, and opening up the resulting flap.

3. To make the ume shiso rolls, lay a butterflied chicken tender flat with the tapered side pointing away from you. Place two shiso leaves towards the broad end of the chicken and then spread a thin layer of umeboshi on the shiso.

4. Roll the chicken from the broad end towards the tapered end. Use a toothpick to pin the seam shut.

5. For the walnut miso roll, lay a butterflied chicken tender flat with the tapered side pointing away from you. Place two basil leaves towards the broad end of the chicken and then spread a thin layer of walnut miso on the basil.

6. Roll the chicken from the broad end towards the tapered end. Use a toothpick to pin the seam shut.

7. Dust the rolled chicken with the potato starch, using a tea strainer to apply an even layer on every side of each roll.

8. Heat a frying pan over medium heat and then add the vegetable oil.

9. Place the rolls in the pan with the seam side down. Fry until the chicken is golden brown on one side, and then flip the chicken over.

10. When the second side has browned, add the sake, and immediately cover the pan with a lid. Steam the chicken for 2-3 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

11. When the chicken is cooked, transfer the rolls to a cutting board. Cool them to room temperature before removing the toothpicks.

Sweet-and-Sour Chicken Buns Bento
BENTO RECIPES
from Episode 11 / Season 5.
Norimaki Meat Roll Bento
(For adults 916 kcal, For kids 602 kcal)
Maki Ogawaby Maki Ogawa

Bento contents:

  • Rice (280 g for adults, 140 g for kids)
  • Norimaki Meat Roll
  • Sauteed potatoes, sausages, pearl onions, and asparagus
  • Shiso leaves
  • Green peas
  • White sesame seeds
  • Small pickled plum (for use as decoration for adult’s bento)
  • Cocktail sausage (for use as decoration for kid’s bento)
  • Nori (for use as decoration for kid’s bento)

Ingredients: Norimaki Meat Roll

  • 180 g ground pork
  • 50 g onion
  • A small piece of ginger
  • 2 rounded tsp (14 g) miso
  • 1 rounded tbsp (14 g) mayonnaise
  • 2 sheets nori
  • 1 tbsp potato starch
  • Vegetable oil, as needed

Directions: Norimaki Meat Roll

1. Mince the onion and grate the ginger.

2. Mix the pork, onion, ginger, miso, mayonnaise, and potato starch in a bowl. Knead well to make the filling.

3. Use a tea strainer to sprinkle potato starch over one side of each nori sheet. 4. Spread half the filling on a sheet, leaving a 2-3 cm strip on the side away from you. 5. Form the roll as you would a norimaki. Use a tea strainer to sprinkle additional potato starch over the roll.

6. Repeat the process to form another roll.

7. Pan fry the rolls, placing them seam-side down.

8. Once the rolls have firmed up, cover and turn off the heat to cook through with residual heat.

9. Cool and cut into bite-size slices.

To make decorations: For kids

1. Place the shiso leaf on the rice to form the hair.

2. Use a green pea for the nose, and use cut-out pieces of nori for the eyes. Then, use a slice of cocktail sausage for the mouth. Last, use a sprinkling of white sesame seeds for the cheeks.

To make decorations: For adults

1. Place two small pickled ume plums on the rice, and use shiso leaf stems to form the cherry stems, and use green peas for the leaf.

Bento Topics: France
BENTO TOPICS
from Episode 11/ Season 5.
Tottori
  • Today, from Daisenji, a 1,300-year-old temple located in Tottori Prefecture, Japan.

    Today, from Daisenji, a 1,300-year-old temple located in Tottori Prefecture, Japan.

  • Shojin-ryori is vegetarian cuisine aligned with Buddhist beliefs which forbid the killing of animals for human consumption. Many dishes look and taste like meat or fish.

    Shojin-ryori is vegetarian cuisine aligned with Buddhist beliefs which forbid the killing of animals for human consumption. Many dishes look and taste like meat or fish.

  • The monk’s original Shojin Burger is seasoned with dashi made from vegetable scraps.

    The monk’s original Shojin Burger is seasoned with dashi made from vegetable scraps.

  • The buns are made of mashed tofu and yam. They're shaped into patties that are deep-fried and seasoned with umami-rich dashi.

    The buns are made of mashed tofu and yam. They're shaped into patties that are deep-fried and seasoned with umami-rich dashi.

  • The flavorful patties have a meaty texture that comes from steaming sticky rice with mountain vegetables, carrot, burdock, and shiitake mushrooms.

    The flavorful patties have a meaty texture that comes from steaming sticky rice with mountain vegetables, carrot, burdock, and shiitake mushrooms.

  • Crunchy lotus root dressed in vinegared miso and mustard are used instead of pickles. Creamy soymilk skin is substituted for cheese.Combined, it all makes a delicious and healthy burger that showcases the best of shojin-ryori!.

    Crunchy lotus root dressed in vinegared miso and mustard are used instead of pickles. Creamy soymilk skin is substituted for cheese.
    Combined, it all makes a delicious and healthy burger that showcases the best of shojin-ryori!

Rainbow Kakiage Bento
BENTO RECIPES
from Episode 10 / Season 5.
Braised Chicken Wing Bento
(802 kcal)
Marc Matsumotoby Marc Matsumoto

Bento contents:

Makes enough to pack into 2-3 bentos

Ingredients: Braised Chicken

  • 120 ml sake
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 15 g ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1500 g chicken drumettes / wingettes
  • 10 shishito or padron peppers, poked with a knife or skewer

Other bento items:

  • White rice
  • Potato salad
  • Leaf lettuce
  • Cherries

Directions:

1. Add the sake, soy sauce, light brown sugar, and ginger to a pot and bring the mixture to a boil.

2. Add the chicken, cover with a lid, and turn down the heat to low. Simmer the wings for 20 minutes.

3. Remove the lid and turn up the heat to reduce the remaining sauce.

4. When there is almost no liquid remaining, add the shishito peppers, and toss together until the shishito are cooked through but still vibrant green.

Sweet-and-Sour Chicken Buns Bento
BENTO RECIPES
from Episode 10 / Season 5.
Stuffed Mushroom Bento
(For adults 776 kcal, For kids 397 kcal)
Maki Ogawaby Maki Ogawa

Bento contents:

  • Stuffed mushrooms
  • White rice (adults 240g, kids 130g)
  • Lettuce
  • Broccoli
  • Cherry tomatoes (red/yellow)
  • Bacon-fried Mushroom Stems and Green Beans
  • Sliced cheese (for kids)
  • Nori (for kids)

Ingredients: Stuffed Mushrooms

  • 16 Portobello mushrooms
  • 150 g ground pork
  • 75 g onion
  • 1/2 beaten egg
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sake
  • 2 tbsp panko breadcrumbs
  • Flour, as needed
  • A pinch of salt
  • A pinch of pepper
  • Vegetable oil, as needed

Ingredients: Bacon-fried Mushroom Stems and Green Beans

  • 50 g green beans
  • 16 mushroom stems
  • 30 g bacon
  • A pinch each of salt and pepper

Directions: Stuffed Mushrooms

1. Remove the mushroom stems and slice for later use.

2. Soak the panko in milk.

3. Mince the onion and add to a bowl along with ground pork, beaten egg, milk-softened panko, salt, pepper, and soy sauce. Knead well.

4. Stuff the mushrooms with the meat filling.

5. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the mushrooms cap-side up until brown.

6. Turn the mushrooms over and brown the other side.

7. Drizzle with sake and cook for one more minute.

To make decoration: Bunny

1. Place the stuffed mushrooms cap-side up on the rice.

2. Use the sliced cheese to cut out the ears and nose. Use nori for the eyes and tip of the nose.

Bento Topics: France
BENTO TOPICS
from Episode 10/ Season 5.
France
  • Today, from the gastronomic capital of Lyon, France.

    Today, from the gastronomic capital of Lyon, France.

  • Many bistros, called bouchon, serve traditional Lyonnaise cuisine. Their interior is rustic, warm, and welcoming.

    Many bistros, called bouchon, serve traditional Lyonnaise cuisine. Their interior is rustic, warm, and welcoming.

  • Tablier de Sapeur is a local favorite. Boiled beef tripe marinated in white wine and herbs is coated in breadcrumbs and fried to a crisp in butter.

    Tablier de Sapeur is a local favorite. Boiled beef tripe marinated in white wine and herbs is coated in breadcrumbs and fried to a crisp in butter.

  • Anabelle is a local bento maker who fell in love with bento 15 years ago after spotting a kyaraben, character bento on the internet.

    Anabelle is a local bento maker who fell in love with bento 15 years ago after spotting a kyaraben, character bento on the internet.

  • She uses local specialties to make a mini burger of pistachio-filled sausage and cheese sauce, substituting quenelle for burger buns. For a side, she fills potato nests with a cheese dip.

    She uses local specialties to make a mini burger of pistachio-filled sausage and cheese sauce, substituting quenelle for burger buns. For a side, she fills potato nests with a cheese dip.

  • As a final touch to her cute Lyonnaise bento, she adds a red and white checkered flag, the bouchon trademark.

    As a final touch to her cute Lyonnaise bento, she adds a red and white checkered flag, the bouchon trademark.

Rainbow Kakiage Bento
BENTO RECIPES
from Episode 9 / Season 5.
Spaghetti Napolitan Bento
(596 kcal)
Marc Matsumotoby Marc Matsumoto

Bento contents:

Makes enough to pack into 2 bentos

Ingredients: Spaghetti Napolitan

  • 2 thin pork chops, 1.5 cm thick
  • Salt
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 70 g onion, sliced
  • 60 g mild green pepper, seeds removed and sliced into 5 mm rounds
  • 120 ml ketchup
  • 150 g spaghetti

Other bento items:

  • Asparagus
  • Corn

Directions:

1. Season the pork chops generously with salt and pepper, then dust them on all sides with flour.

2. Bring a pot with 1 liter of water and 1 teaspoon of salt to a boil.

3. Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat.

4. Submerge the spaghetti in the boiling water, and stir for the first 30 seconds.

5. Add the olive oil and pork chops. Fry on one side until it starts to brown.

6. Flip the pork chop over and add the sliced onions. Continue frying the pork chops, stirring the onions periodically until the other side of the pork has browned.

7. Add the ketchup and flip the pork chops over a few times to coat them evenly. Remove the pork from the pan and set on a cutting board to cool.

8. Add the peppers to the sauce remaining in the pan.

9. When the pasta is done, transfer the pasta directly into the pan with the sauce. Scoop some boiling liquid from the pasta into the pan. Toss and stir together until the peppers are cooked, and the pasta is well coated with sauce.

10. Portion the pasta into bento boxes while it is still hot, but let it cool before covering with a lid.

11. Slice the pork chops into bite-sized pieces and add them on top of the pasta.

Sweet-and-Sour Chicken Buns Bento
BENTO RECIPES
from Episode 9 / Season 5.
Curry Pilaf Bento
(For adults 371 kcal, For kids 174 kcal)
Maki Ogawaby Maki Ogawa

Bento contents:

  • Curry Pilaf (260 g for adults, 120 g for kids)
  • Snap peas
  • Cucumber and Carrot Namul (Korean salad)
  • Lettuce
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Boiled eggs

Ingredients: Curry Pilaf

  • 180 g rice
  • 75 g cocktail wieners (coarsely ground meat)
  • 75 g onion
  • 60 g sweet corn (canned)
  • 7.5 g butter
  • 1 tsp granulated chicken consommé
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 240 ml water (1.3 times the volume of rice)

Directions: Curry Pilaf

1. Rinse and drain the rice.

2. Melt the butter in a pan, and sauté the minced onions and cocktail wieners cut into rounds.

3. Once the onions are translucent, add the rice, corn, granulated consommé, curry powder, salt, and water. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes. Cover and steam for 10 more minutes.

To make decorations: Baby penguin and seal

1. Cut the hard-boiled eggs in half.

2. Use cut out carrots and nori to make the face and flippers.

Bento Topics: the Netherlands
BENTO TOPICS
from Episode 9/ Season 5.
TOKYO
  • Today, from the Tokyo Bay area. It's been an important fishing ground since the time when Tokyo was known as Edo.

    Today, from the Tokyo Bay area. It's been an important fishing ground since the time when Tokyo was known as Edo.

  • This is the birthplace of nigiri, or hand-formed sushi. A favorite nigiri topping is anago, or saltwater eel, caught in these waters.

    This is the birthplace of nigiri, or hand-formed sushi. A favorite nigiri topping is anago, or saltwater eel, caught in these waters.

  • Anago have a light taste and fluffy texture, and make a perfect sushi topping when simmered in a sweet and savory sauce.

    Anago have a light taste and fluffy texture, and make a perfect sushi topping when simmered in a sweet and savory sauce.

  • Sweet and savory anago on rice also makes for a delicious bento. In addition to sugar and soy sauce, the anago is simmered in a generous amount of sake to make it especially tender.

    Sweet and savory anago on rice also makes for a delicious bento. In addition to sugar and soy sauce, the anago is simmered in a generous amount of sake to make it especially tender.

  • The remaining sauce is simmered down for two days to make a glaze packed with umami.

    The remaining sauce is simmered down for two days to make a glaze packed with umami.

  • The anago is tender enough to melt in the mouth. Coated with glaze, the sweet and savory anago rice bento remains a time-honored favorite.

    The anago is tender enough to melt in the mouth. Coated with glaze, the sweet and savory anago rice bento remains a time-honored favorite.

Rainbow Kakiage Bento
BENTO RECIPES
from Episode 8 / Season 5.
Sukiyaki Soboro Bento
(594 kcal)
Marc Matsumotoby Marc Matsumoto

Bento contents:

Makes enough to pack into 2 bentos

Ingredients: Sukiyaki soboro

  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 100 g carrot, cut out into 8 flowers
  • 30 g onion, minced
  • 275 g ground beef
  • 3 tbsp 3S sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce

Ingredients: Spinach soboro

  • 200 g spinach
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 pinch salt

Ingredients: Quail eggs

  • 1 tsp
  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 quail eggs

Other bento items:

  • White rice
  • Cherry
  • Yellow kiwi

Directions:

1. Add the vegetable oil to a frying pan over medium-high heat, then add the carrots and onion. Sauté them until they start to get tender.

2. Add the ground beef, 3S sauce, and soy sauce, and break up the meat with a spatula, being careful not to break up the carrot flowers.

3. Continue cooking the mixture until the beef is cooked through and there is no liquid left in the pan.

4. Boil the spinach, then drain and rinse with cool water. Line up the stems of the spinach, and use your hands to squeeze out any excess water.

5. Mince the leaf parts of the spinach finely and save the stem parts to use for garnish.

6. Toss the minced spinach leaves with 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil, and season with a pinch of salt.

7. Fry the quail eggs in a non-stick frying pan with a teaspoon of vegetable oil.

8. To assemble the bento, spread a layer of rice along the bottom of a bento box.

9. Spread half of the meat mixture evenly over all of the rice.

10. Spread the other half of the spinach mixture evenly over the front third of the bento box.

11. Place a fried quail egg at the back corner of the bento.

12. Add some spinach stems coming out of the minced leaves, then decorate each stem with a flower.

Sweet-and-Sour Chicken Buns Bento
BENTO RECIPES
from Episode 8 / Season 5.
Scotch Egg Bento
(For adults 804 kcal, For kids 486 kcal)
Maki Ogawaby Maki Ogawa

Bento contents:

  • Scotch eggs
  • Cooked rice (250 g for adults, 120 g for kids)
  • Lettuce
  • Broccoli
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Flourless deep-fried kabocha pumpkin
  • Sweet cucumber pickles
  • Black sesame seeds
  • Sliced cheese (for kids)

Ingredients: Scotch eggs

  • 100 g ground meat (mixed beef and pork)
  • 50 g onion (minced)
  • 1 egg
  • 2-3 quail eggs
  • Salt and pepper, as needed
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • Panko breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Ingredients: Sweet cucumber pickles

  • Cucumber
  • Sushi vinegar

Directions: Scotch eggs

1. Boil the quail eggs for 4 minutes, drain, and place in a sealed container filled with cold water. Shake vigorously to peel off the shell.

2. Coat the eggs in flour (other than the listed amount).

3. Combine the ground meat, onion, flour, salt, and pepper. Knead well to make the meat mixture.

4. Spread 80 g of the meat mixture on a piece of plastic wrap. Place the large boiled egg in the center, gather up the wrap, and twist to form a ball.

5. Repeat the process for the quail eggs using 25 g meat mixture.

6. Coat the eggs in flour (other than the listed amount), dip in beaten egg and coat with panko. Preheat the oil to 170 degrees Celsius and fry for about 4 minutes.

7. Once the eggs are cool enough to handle, cut in half. Cut out circles from the cheese and place on top of the quail eggs.

Directions: Sweet cucumber pickles

1. Sprinkle the cucumber with salt, and roll on a cutting board to draw out excess moisture. Cut into bite-size pieces and pickle in rice vinegar.

To make decorations: Quail egg flowers

1. Press the boiled quail eggs into flower-shaped molds, set, and cut in half.

2. Cut out circles from cheese and place in the center.

Bento Topics: the Netherlands
BENTO TOPICS
from Episode 8/ Season 5.
Thailand
  • Today, from the Thai capital of Bangkok.

    With the government encouraging farmers to go organic, a wide range of organic products are flooding the market.

  • Organic cafes serving healthy, traditional Thai cuisine are on the rise. Khao Yam is a colorful southern Thai rice salad tossed with herbs, flowers and a sweet and savory fish sauce. It looks as good as it tastes.

    Organic cafes serving healthy, traditional Thai cuisine are on the rise. Khao Yam is a colorful southern Thai rice salad tossed with herbs, flowers and a sweet and savory fish sauce. It looks as good as it tastes.

  • Bento maker Kwan grows over 10 different kinds of organic herbs in her garden. She’s going to use freshly picked herbs to make a fragrant and fun bento with her 5-year-old daughter, Patt.

    Bento maker Kwan grows over 10 different kinds of organic herbs in her garden. She’s going to use freshly picked herbs to make a fragrant and fun bento with her 5-year-old daughter, Patt.

  • Patt helps Kwan wrap chicken in vanilla-scented pandan leaves to make Gai Haw Bai Toey, or Thai fried chicken.

    Patt helps Kwan wrap chicken in vanilla-scented pandan leaves to make Gai Haw Bai Toey, or Thai fried chicken.

  • Kwan is going to use the blue water produced by steeping butterfly pea flowers in hot water to cook rice.

    Kwan is going to use the blue water produced by steeping butterfly pea flowers in hot water to cook rice.

  • Kwan shapes the rice into a blue whale, which is the centerpiece of her cute bento that’s fragrant with herbs.

    Kwan shapes the rice into a blue whale, which is the centerpiece of her cute bento that’s fragrant with herbs.

Rainbow Kakiage Bento
BENTO RECIPES
from Episode 7 / Season 5.
Salmon Menchi-Katsu Bento
(968 kcal)
Marc Matsumotoby Marc Matsumoto

Bento contents:

Makes enough to pack into 2 bentos

Ingredients: Salmon menchi-katsu

  • 24 g white part of scallion, minced
  • 5 g flat leaf parsley, minced
  • 2 tbsp panko
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 pinch white pepper
  • 220 g boneless skinless salmon fillets, chopped into 1/8-inch pieces
  • 120 ml panko, for coating
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

Ingredients: Tartar sauce

  • 1 boiled egg, peeled
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 12 g celery, finely diced
  • 2 g scallion greens, minced
  • Lemon zest, from a quarter of a lemon
  • Pinch salt

Other bento items:

  • White rice
  • Leaf lettuce
  • Purple cabbage
  • Quick pickles (shredded purple cabbage + sushi vinegar)
  • Mini tomatoes
  • Snap peas
  • Lemon wedges

Directions:

1. Mix the scallions, parsley, 2 tablespoons of panko, mayonnaise, mustard, salt, and white pepper in a bowl until it forms a uniform paste.

2. Add the chopped salmon to the mixture and stir to combine.

3. Spread the remaining panko into a tray.

4. Use a spoon to scoop a quarter of the salmon mixture onto the panko and use your hands to form it into a patty that's about 1 inch thick. Be sure to use the panko to keep it from sticking to your hands.

5. Once the patty is formed and coated in panko, repeat three more times to form the rest of the patties.

6. Heat 1/4 inch of oil in a frying pan until 180 degrees C (355 F).

7. Fry the salmon menchi-katsu on one side until they're golden brown, and then flip them over and brown them on the other side.

8. Transfer the salmon menchi- katsu to a paper towel-lined cooling rack. Let them cool to room temperature before you pack them into a bento box.

9. To make the tartar sauce, add the boiled egg, mayonnaise, celery, scallions, lemon zest, and salt to a small bowl, and use a spoon or small spatula to break the egg up and stir it together with the other ingredients.

Sweet-and-Sour Chicken Buns Bento
BENTO RECIPES
from Episode 7 / Season 5.
Chicken Nasu with 4S Sauce Bento
(For adults 1000 kcal, For kids 588 kcal)
Maki Ogawaby Maki Ogawa

Bento contents:

  • Chicken and Nasu with 4S Sauce
  • Cooked rice (280 g for adults, 140 g for kids)
  • Tuna, Green Bell Pepper, and Carrot Salad
  • Tamagoyaki rolled omelet
  • Lettuce
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Sweet corn (for kids)

Ingredients: Chicken Nasu with 4S Sauce

  • 1 chicken thigh (approx. 220 g)
  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp sake
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp black vinegar
  • Potato starch, as needed
  • Vegetable oil, as needed

Ingredients: Tuna, Green Bell Pepper, and Carrot Salad

  • 3 green bell peppers
  • 30 g carrot
  • 1 tbsp canned tuna in oil
  • A pinch of Chinese granulated soup stock
  • Salt and pepper

Directions: Chicken Nasu with 4S Sauce

1. Cut the chicken into bite-size (35-40 g) pieces and coat in potato starch. 2. Peel the eggplant in stripes, cut lengthwise in half, and rinse in water.

3. Cover the eggplant with plastic wrap and microwave (500W) for 2-3 minutes. Set aside to cool, then cut into bite-size pieces.

4. Combine the sake, sugar, soy sauce, and black vinegar to make the 4S sauce.

5. Stir-fry the chicken in a generous amount of oil until golden brown. Remove from the pan and wipe off the pan.

6. Return the chicken to the pan along with the eggplant and 4S sauce. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat and simmer to integrate the sauce and ingredients.

Directions: Tuna, Green Bell Pepper, and Carrot Salad

1. Cut the bell peppers and carrot into thin strips.

2. Place in a heat-resistant bowl, add the Chinese soup stock, salt, and pepper, and lightly cover with plastic wrap. Microwave (500W) for 2-3 minutes.

To make decorations: Puppy tamagoyaki

1. Use a round or oval food cutter to cut out the ears and nose from the carrot.

2. Place the carrots and nori on tamagoyaki.

Bento Topics: the Netherlands
BENTO TOPICS
from Episode 7/ Season 5.
Taiwan
  • Today, we head to Taiwan, famous for its rich food culture. It’s a foodie’s paradise.

    Today, we head to Taiwan, famous for its rich food culture. It’s a foodie’s paradise.

  • San bei, or “three cups,” is an essential Taiwanese sauce made with equal parts sesame oil, soy sauce and rice wine.

    San bei, or “three cups,” is an essential Taiwanese sauce made with equal parts sesame oil, soy sauce and rice wine.

  • San bei goes well with both seafood and meat. The ingredients are stir-fried in aromatic sesame oil and then simmered in soy sauce and rice wine until they’re bursting with umami flavor.

    San bei goes well with both seafood and meat. The ingredients are stir-fried in aromatic sesame oil and then simmered in soy sauce and rice wine until they’re bursting with umami flavor.

  • We visit the Taipei home of a bento maker who learned how to cook from her mom. Hsinyi is now going to pass on her mom’s secret recipe for Three Cup Chicken to her kids.

    We visit the Taipei home of a bento maker who learned how to cook from her mom. Hsinyi is now going to pass on her mom’s secret recipe for Three Cup Chicken to her kids.

  • Her mom’s secret ingredient is oyster sauce. That’s what makes her Three Cup Chicken so flavorful.

    Her mom’s secret ingredient is oyster sauce. That’s what makes her Three Cup Chicken so flavorful.

  • Other favorite bento items include flourless deep-fried green beans and garlic, carrot and onion pickles, and tea eggs. Hsinyi and her kids each have fun packing their own original bentos.

    Other favorite bento items include flourless deep-fried green beans and garlic, carrot and onion pickles, and tea eggs. Hsinyi and her kids each have fun packing their own original bentos.

Rainbow Kakiage Bento
BENTO RECIPES
from Episode 6 / Season 5.
Mabo Nasu Bento
(667 kcal)
Marc Matsumotoby Marc Matsumoto

Bento contents:

Makes enough to pack into 4 bentos

For Mabo Nasu:

  • 120 ml water
  • 1 tbsp miso
  • 2 tbsp 3S sauce
  • 1 tsp doubanjiang
  • 2 tsp potato starch
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 340 g eggplant, cut ran-giri
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 5 g ginger
  • 5 g garlic
  • 100 g ground pork
  • 1 scallion, chopped

Other bento items:

  • White Rice
  • Bamboo - sautéed with sesame oil, 3S sauce, and katsuobushi
  • Boiled fava beans
  • Zasai

Directions:

1. To make the sauce, whisk together the water, 3S sauce, miso, doubanjiang, and potato starch until the mixture is smooth and free of lumps.

2. Heat 2-inches of vegetable oil to 360 degrees F (180 C). Prepare a wire rack lined with several sheets of paper towels.

3. Add the eggplant to the oil, skin-side down, to lock in the color of the skin. Fry until the eggplant just starts to brown around the edges (about 30 seconds). Drain them on the paper towel-lined rack and use more paper towels to pat any excess oil off of them.

4. To finish the Mabo Nasu, add the sesame oil, ginger, and garlic to a frying pan, and heat over medium-high heat until the aromatics are fragrant and tender.

5. Add the ground pork and use a spatula to crumble it up. Stir-fry it until it's cooked through.

6. Turn up the heat to high, and add the fried eggplant and sauce. The Mabo Nasu is done when the sauce thickens up enough to coat the eggplants.

7. Garnish with the chopped scallions.

Sweet-and-Sour Chicken Buns Bento
BENTO RECIPES
from Episode 6 / Season 5.
Sauce Katsu-don Bento
(For adults 845 kcal, For kids 387 kcal)
Maki Ogawaby Maki Ogawa

Bento contents:

  • Sauce Katsu
  • Cooked rice (260 g for adults, 130 g for kids)
  • Boiled cabbage
  • Boiled red cabbage
  • Lettuce
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • 8-minute hard-boiled quail eggs

Ingredients: Sauce Katsu

  • 150 g chicken breast
  • White sesame seeds, as needed
  • A pinch each of salt and pepper
  • Whole grain mustard, as needed
  • Flour, as needed
  • 1 egg
  • Panko breadcrumbs, as needed
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying

Ingredients: Katsu sauce

  • 1 1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ketchup

Directions: Sauce Katsu

1. Cut the chicken breast into bite-size (40-45 g) pieces.

2. Cover with plastic wrap and pound into thin even slices with a rolling pin.

3. Pat dry with paper towels. Dab a small amount of whole grain mustard off-center of each piece, and roll them up.

4. Season with salt and pepper. Dust with flour, dip in beaten egg, and coat with panko.

5. Heat the oil to 170 degrees Celsius, fry the breaded cutlets, and drain.

6. Combine the ketchup and Worcestershire to make the Katsu sauce.

7. Coat the Katsu thoroughly with the sauce and sprinkle with white sesame seeds.

8. Put over rice to make Sauce Katsu-don.

Directions: Boiled cabbage

1. Shred the cabbage and red cabbage and parboil.

Directions: Bear decorations for kids

1. Cut the quail eggs in half for the ears.

2. Cut out the nose, mouth and eyes from cheese and nori.

3. Sprinkle with white sesame seeds.

Rainbow Kakiage Bento
BENTO RECIPES
from Episode 5 / Season 5.
Karokke Bento
(634 kcal)
Marc Matsumotoby Marc Matsumoto

Bento contents:

Makes 14 karokke

For Karokke:

  • 500 g kabocha, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 60 ml water
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 100 g onion, minced
  • 230 g ground chicken
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 100 g cream cheese
  • 60 ml flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 50 g panko
  • Vegetable oil (for frying)

Other bento items:

  • White Rice
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Pineapple
  • Pea sprout goma-ae
  • Frill lettuce
  • Okonomiyaki sauce

Directions:

1. Add the peeled and sliced kabocha to a microwave-safe bowl, and cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Microwave at 800 watts for 5-6 minutes, or until the kabocha is soft.

2. Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat and add the onions. Sauté the onions until they are tender and just starting to brown.

3. Add the ground chicken, salt, and white pepper. Stir-fry, breaking up any clumps of meat with a spatula until the chicken is cooked, and there is no liquid remaining in the pan.

4. When the kabocha is tender, add the cream cheese to it, and mash it together with the pumpkin until it's smooth.

5. Add the chicken and onion mixture to the kabocha mixture and stir to combine. Chill this mixture in the refrigerator until it firms up (2-3 hours)

6. Prepare 3 bowls with the flour, egg, and panko in each one.

7. Shape the kabocha mixture into patties, and then dust each one with an even coating of flour. 8. To bread the karokke, dip each patty in the egg to coat, and then roll the egg coated patties in the panko to give an even coating. If you aren't going to fry them right away, keep them in the refrigerator, so the insides stay firm. Otherwise, they will explode when you fry them.

9. To fry the karokke, heat 2-inches of oil to 340 degrees F (170 C).

10. Fry the karokke until golden brown and crisp.

Sweet-and-Sour Chicken Buns Bento
BENTO RECIPES
from Episode 5 / Season 5.
Ebi-Mayo Bento
(For adults 520 kcal, For kids 353 kcal)
Maki Ogawaby Maki Ogawa

Bento contents:

  • Ebi-mayo
  • Cooked rice (200 g for adults, 120 g for kids)
  • Carrot Kinpira
  • Lettuce
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Black sesame seeds
  • Green peas (for kids)

Ingredients: Ebi-mayo

  • 180 g peeled shrimp
  • 7-8 snap peas
  • A pinch of black pepper
  • Potato starch, as needed (for coating)
  • Potato starch & sake, as needed (for rinsing the shrimp)
  • Vegetable oil, as needed
  • Ebi-mayo sauce
    • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
    • 1/2 tbsp ketchup
    • 1/2 tbsp condensed milk
    • 1 tsp lemon juice

Ingredients: Carrot Kinpira

  • Carrot
  • 3S sauce (equal parts sake, soy sauce, sugar)

Directions: Ebi-mayo

1. Partially thaw the frozen shrimp. Rub well with sake and potato starch. Rinse under running water.

2. Pat dry the shrimp and dust with potato starch.

3. Pan fry the shrimp in a generous amount of oil. When cooked through, remove the shrimp and wipe down the pan.

4. Combine the sauce ingredients.

5. Boil the snap peas for two minutes, drain, and cut in half.

6. Warm the sauce in the pan and add the shrimp and snap peas. Stir until coated thoroughly, and sprinkle with black pepper.

Directions: Carrot Kinpira

1. Cut the carrot into shreds.

2. Sauté until tender and season with 3S sauce.

To make decorations:

Cut out the shooting star and seahorse shapes from thin slices of carrot.

Rainbow Kakiage Bento
BENTO RECIPES
from Episode 4 / Season 5.
Orange Chicken Bento
(1011 kcal)
Marc Matsumotoby Marc Matsumoto

Bento contents:

Makes enough to pack into 2 bentos

For Orange chicken:

  • 225 g boneless chicken thighs, cut into 3 cm pieces
  • 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp sake
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 30 g potato starch
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1/3 cup orange juice (80 ml)
  • 3 tbsp orange marmalade
  • 1/4 tsp potato starch
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Other bento items:

  • Rice
  • Lotus root stir-fried with 3S sauce and sesame seeds
  • Red and yellow tomatoes
  • Orange wedges
  • Boiled broccoli

Directions:

1. Put the chicken, soy sauce, sake, and fresh ginger in a bowl, and mix well to combine. Let this marinate for at least 15 minutes, or as long as overnight.

2. When you're ready to make the orange chicken, fill a pot with 4 cm. of oil and heat it to 170 degrees Celsius.

3. Drain off any excess marinade from the chicken and put the potato starch in a separate bowl.

4. Dust each piece of chicken with potato starch as you add it to the hot oil and fry the chicken until is golden brown and crisp. Transfer the cooked chicken to a paper towel lined rack.

5. Once the chicken is fried, combine the orange juice, marmalade, 1/4 teaspoon of potato starch, and salt in frying pan and bring the mixture to a boil.

6. Add the fried chicken into the sauce and toss to coat until the chicken is evenly glazed with the sauce. Let the orange chicken cool before adding it to the bento box.

Sweet-and-Sour Chicken Buns Bento
BENTO RECIPES
from Episode 4 / Season 5.
"Tuna-burg" Bento
(For adults 603kcal, For kids 355kcal)
Maki Ogawaby Maki Ogawa

Bento contents:

  • “Tuna-burg”
  • Cooked rice (230 g for adults, 105 g for kids)
  • Pickles
  • Lettuce
  • Broccoli

Ingredients: “Tuna-burg”

  • 70 g chunky tuna in oil
  • 50 g chopped onions
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise (15 g)
  • 2 tbsp panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • Salt and pepper, as needed
  • 15 g canned corn kernels 
  • A pinch of curry powder (about 1 g)
  • 2 tsp potato starch
  • 1 small king oyster mushroom
  • 1/2 slice cheese

Ingredients: Pickles

  • Cucumber
  • Red and yellow bell peppers
  • Sushi vinegar
  • Oil from canned tuna

Directions: “Tuna-burg”

1. Remove the cap from the king oyster mushroom and cut the stem lengthwise in half to make two 2 x 4 cm sticks. Chop up the cap and remaining stem.

2. Cut the sliced cheese into 5 mm squares.

3. Pour milk over the panko and let it sit until the milk is fully absorbed. Mix in the tuna, chopped onions, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, corn kernels, curry powder, and potato starch and knead well.

4. Divide the mixture into three 40 g pieces and two 30 g pieces and form into patties. (For kids, sprinkle the mushroom sticks with extra potato starch and insert into the patties to form a mushroom shape.)

5. Place a frying pan over medium heat and cook both sides of the patties. Drizzle with a small amount of sake (other than what’s called for in the recipe), cover and steam for about 30 seconds to allow the mushroom to cook through. Uncover and allow the sake to burn off.

Directions: Pickles

1. Use a vegetable peeler to peel long strips from the cucumber. Sprinkle with salt and roll back and forth over the cutting board in what’s called “itazuri” to remove any bitter taste. Cut into 1 cm slices.

2. Cut the bell peppers into bite-size pieces and place in a food storage jar. Add the sushi vinegar and oil from the canned tuna, seal and shake well.

3. Marinate overnight for at least eight hours.

Rainbow Kakiage Bento
BENTO RECIPES
from Episode 3 / Season 5.
Rainbow Kakiage Bento
(1020 kcal)
Marc Matsumotoby Marc Matsumoto

Bento contents:

Makes enough to pack into 2 bentos

For Kakiage:

  • 80 g red onion (sliced 4mm thick)
  • 20 g shiitake mushrooms (sliced 4 mm thick)
  • 30 g green beans (cut into 4 cm pieces)
  • 40 g carrots (4mm matchsticks)
  • 50 g shelled edamame
  • 40 g chickpea flour (or cake flour)
  • 3-4 tbsp cold sparkling water
  • 4 tbsp 3S sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce

Other bento items:

  • Shiso leaves
  • Boiled egg
  • Shibazuke pickles
  • Cooked rice
  • Toasted sesame seeds

Directions:

1. Prepare the veggies.

2. Preheat a large pot filled with 4cm of oil to 180 degrees Celsius.

3. Make sure all the vegetables are very dry. Use paper towels to remove excess moisture if necessary.

4. Add the onions, shiitake, green beans, carrots, and edamame to a bowl and then toss with the chickpea flour.

5. Add the 3 tablespoons of sparkling water and stir until the mixture is all wet. You can add a bit more if there isn't enough to wet all of the flour.

6. Add half of the batter onto a spatula and shape it as round as you can make it. Submerge the spatula in the hot oil and slide the batter off using another spatula.

7. When the kakiage starts to firm up, flip it over.

8. When the kakiage has crisped, remove it from the pan, (draining as much oil as possible) and transfer it to a paper towel lined rack. 9. Repeat with the remaining batter.

9. Let the kakiage cool completely before packing it into your bento box.

10. To make the sauce, add the 3S sauce and soy sauce to a small pot and bring to a boil. Boil until the sauce starts to thicken and you can see big shiny bubbles. Let it cool before drizzling onto the kakiage.

11. To pack the kakiage donburi, add a layer of rice to the bottom of a bento box. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Top the rice with the kakiage and then drizzle with the sauce.

Sweet-and-Sour Chicken Buns Bento
BENTO RECIPES
from Episode 3 / Season 5.
Sweet-and-Sour Chicken Buns Bento
(for sharing 1101kcal)
Maki Ogawaby Maki Ogawa

Bento contents:

  • Sweet-and-Sour Chicken Buns
    • Chinese steamed buns
    • Sweet-and-Sour Chicken
    • Lettuce
    • Tomatoes
  • Food on a stick
    • Sausages
    • Quail eggs
    • Cherry tomatoes
  • Lettuce

Ingredients: Sweet-and-Sour Chicken

  • 1 chicken thigh (230 g)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 egg
  • Potato starch
  • 1.5 tbsp sugar
  • 1.5 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp sake
  • 1.5 tbsp Chinese black vinegar
  • Oil for deep frying

Directions: Sweet-and-Sour Chicken Buns

1. Trim off the excess fat from the chicken thigh and cut into bite-size pieces of about 35 g each.

2. Season the chicken with a pinch of pepper and two pinches of salt. Marinate in beaten egg for about 20 minutes.

3. Coat the chicken with potato starch. Preheat the oil to 170 degrees Celsius and fry the chicken.

4. To make the sauce, combine the sugar, soy sauce, sake, and black vinegar in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

5. Lower the heat to reduce the sauce. Add the chicken to glaze.

6. Steam the Chinese bao buns for about 5 minutes. Once they are cool enough to handle, open up and fill with lettuce, sweet-and-sour chicken, and sliced tomatoes.

7. Add on the character’s eyes with sliced cheese and nori. Pack with lettuce and food on a stick.

Bento Topics: the Netherlands
BENTO TOPICS
from Episode 3/ Season 5.
the Netherlands
  • Today, from the Netherlands, a country with a thriving agricultural industry, including dairy farming.

    Today, from the Netherlands, a country with a thriving agricultural industry, including dairy farming.

  • Erwtensoep is one of the Dutch’s favorites. It’s a rich and creamy soup made with dried split peas, sausage, and a variety of veggies. It’s traditionally served with rye bread and bacon.

    Erwtensoep is one of the Dutch’s favorites. It’s a rich and creamy soup made with dried split peas, sausage, and a variety of veggies. It’s traditionally served with rye bread and bacon.

  • Bento maker Maike and her family live in the country side to pursue a more natural and organic lifestyle for her daughters. They enjoy harvest from their garden.

    Bento maker Maike and her family live in the country side to pursue a more natural and organic lifestyle for her daughters. They enjoy harvest from their garden.

  • Maike and her daughters are going to make a quiche using cheese and fresh eggs and vegetables from their garden.

    Maike and her daughters are going to make a quiche using cheese and fresh eggs and vegetables from their garden.

  • Maike also makes her own bacon by curing a block of pork shoulder with coarse salt, fennel, and bay leaves for two days, which she then slowly cooks in the oven.

    Maike also makes her own bacon by curing a block of pork shoulder with coarse salt, fennel, and bay leaves for two days, which she then slowly cooks in the oven.

  • A slow food bento packed with a rich and creamy quiche, spiced bacon, refreshing pickles, and fresh vegetables.

    A slow food bento packed with a rich and creamy quiche, spiced bacon, refreshing pickles, and fresh vegetables.

Tori-suki Okowa Bento
BENTO RECIPES
from Episode 2 / Season 5.
Tori-suki Okowa Bento
(434 kcal)
Marc Matsumotoby Marc Matsumoto

Bento contents:

Makes enough to pack into 4 bentos

Ingredients: Okowa

  • 10 g dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 400 ml cold water
  • 200 g chicken thigh (chopped into 1cm pieces)
  • 55 g carrot (quartered and sliced)
  • 55 g onion (chopped into 1cm squares)
  • 100 g shirataki (drained and roughly chopped)
  • 4 tbsp 3S sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 300 g mochi rice (2 rice cooker cups)
  • Kinome for garnish

Ingredients: Kinpira Celery & Carrot

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 140 g celery (trimmed and cut into matchsticks)
  • 140 g carrot (peeled and cut into matchsticks)
  • 1 tbsp 3S sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Other bento items:

  • Tamagoyaki
  • Shishito
  • Radish
  • Kumquats
  • Frill lettuce

Directions: Okowa

1. Cover the dried shiitake mushrooms with 400 ml of cold water and rehydrate them overnight. Squeeze out any excess water from the shiitakes and chop them into 1cm pieces. Reserve the soaking liquid for the rice.
2. Put 300g mochi rice in a bowl and wash until the water runs clear. Drain the rice in a strainer and add it to the bowl of a rice cooker. Then, add 300ml of shiitake soaking liquid and soak it for 30 minutes to 1.5 hours.
3. While the rice is soaking, add the chicken, carrots, onions, shirataki, dried shiitake, 3S sauce, soy sauce, and salt to a frying pan over medium heat.
4. Simmer the mixture until the chicken is cooked through and there is no liquid remaining (about 7 minutes). Take the pan off the heat and let it cool while you wait for the rice to finish soaking.
5. Cover the mochi rice soaked in shiitake soaking liquid with the chicken mixture (4). Flatten out the mixture but don’t stir into the rice.
6. Set the rice cooker as you would normally cook rice.
7. When the rice is done, mix it together and then pack it into your bento boxes. Be sure to wait until the rice has cooled to room temperature before covering the bento boxes with a lid.

Directions: Kinpira Celery & Carrot

1. Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat until hot.
2. Add the oil, celery, and carrots and stir-fry until the carrots are vibrant orange, and they are starting to wilt.
3. Add the 3S sauce and salt and stir-fry until the vegetables are cooked to your liking, and there is no liquid left in the pan.
4. Finish by tossing in the sesame seeds.
5. Let the kinpira cool completely before packing it into your bento.

Meat-wrapped Onion Rings Bento
BENTO RECIPES
from Episode 2 / Season 5.
Meat-wrapped Onion Rings Bento
(For adults 665 kcal, For kids 488 kcal)
Maki Ogawaby Maki Ogawa

Bento contents:

  • Meat-wrapped Onion Rings
  • Rice
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Broccoli
  • Scrambled Eggs with Onion Ring Leftovers
  • Sausage Aliens (for kids)
  • Cheese (Decoration)

Ingredients: Meat-Wrapped Onion Rings

  • 2 onions
  • 5-6 thin slices pork belly
  • 1 egg
  • Flour, as needed
  • Panko breadcrumbs, as needed
  • Salt and pepper, as needed
  • Worcestershire sauce, as needed
  • Ketchup, as desired
  • White sesame seeds
  • Vegetable oil (for deep frying)

Directions: For Meat-wrapped Onion Rings

1. Cut the onion against the grain into 8 mm slices. Remove the core.
2. Wrap thin slices of pork around the onion rings and season with salt and pepper.
3. Dust the rings with flour, dip in beaten egg and coat with panko.
4. Heat the oil to 160 degrees Celsius. Deep-fry the onion rings for 3-4 minutes until golden brown.
5. Combine equal parts Worcestershire sauce and ketchup for the sauce.
6. Drizzle the sauce over the onion rings and sprinkle with white sesame seeds.

Directions: Scrambled Eggs with Onion Ring Leftovers

Mince the leftover onion.
1. Sauté until translucent.
2. Add the beaten egg and sausages, scramble and season with salt and pepper.
3. Drizzle with ketchup, to taste.

Directions: Sausage Aliens

1. Make the incisions for the feet, hands and mouth, then boil.
2. Apply black sesame seeds for the eyes.

Bento Topics: Chichibu
BENTO TOPICS
from Episode 2/ Season 5.
Chichibu
  • On today’s Bento Topics, we head to Chichibu in Saitama Prefecture. Its scenic mountains make it a popular day trip from Tokyo.

    On today’s Bento Topics, we head to Chichibu in Saitama Prefecture. Its scenic mountains make it a popular day trip from Tokyo.

  • The local specialty bento features rice topped with slices of miso marinated pork steak. It’s a Miso Pork Bento.

    The local specialty bento features rice topped with slices of miso marinated pork steak. It’s a Miso Pork Bento.

  • It’s made by marinating pork in a sweet and savory miso marinade. The salt and acids resulting from fermentation makes miso a powerful preservative. This made it a vital dish for the mountainous people of Chichibu, who compensated for the shortage of food in winter by preserving meat in miso.

    It’s made by marinating pork in a sweet and savory miso marinade. The salt and acids resulting from fermentation makes miso a powerful preservative. This made it a vital dish for the mountainous people of Chichibu, who compensated for the shortage of food in winter by preserving meat in miso.

  • Chichibu is a major producer of quality barley, giving rise to a tradition of making miso with barley instead of rice. Barley miso has a distinctive aroma.

    Chichibu is a major producer of quality barley, giving rise to a tradition of making miso with barley instead of rice. Barley miso has a distinctive aroma.

  • Today, Maki and the Iwatas make a Miso Meatball Bento using barley miso.

    Today, Maki and the Iwatas make a Miso Meatball Bento using barley miso.

  • The bento is packed with cute heart-shaped miso meatballs that are bursting with barley miso flavor!

    The bento is packed with cute heart-shaped miso meatballs that are bursting with barley miso flavor!

Italian-style Chirashi Sushi Bento
BENTO RECIPES
from Episode 1 / Season 5.
Italian-style Chirashi Sushi Bento
(426 kcal)
Marc Matsumotoby Marc Matsumoto

Bento contents:

Makes enough to pack into 2 bentos

Ingredients

  • 150 g Japanese short-grain rice, 1 rice cooker cup
  • 210 ml cold water
  • 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp fruity olive oil
  • 3 g basil, leaves julienned
  • 3 g dill, leaves only
  • 60 g cherry tomatoes, half or quarter if they are large
  • 1 g flat-leaf parsley, leaves only
  • 20 g sliced Prosciutto di Parma

Directions

1. Wash the rice thoroughly under cold running water until the water runs mostly clear.

2. Add the rice and water to a pot with a lid and bring to a boil.

3. Once the water comes to a boil, turn down the heat to low and set a timer for 12 minutes.

4. When the timer is up, turn off the heat and let the rice steam for another 15 minutes without opening the lid.

5. While you're waiting for the rice to cook, dissolve the salt in the white balsamic vinegar.

6. Lay the prosciutto in a single layer on a double layer of paper towels and microwave at 800 watts for 60 seconds, or until the ham is dried out and crisp.

7. When the rice is done steaming, dump it out into a sushi oke, or large bowl, and drizzle the salt and vinegar mixture on top.

8. Use a spatula to fold the vinegar into the rice so that each grain is coated with the mixture while fanning the rice to cool it down rapidly. The rice is done when it's shiny and no longer hot.

9. Add the basil and dill leaves, and then crumble in half of the crisped Prosciutto. Fold everything together. Let this cool to room temperature before packing it into a bento.

10. To pack, add a layer of rice into each bento box.

11. Top with the cherry tomatoes and parsley leaves, and crumble on more prosciutto.

Sesame Nugget Bento
BENTO RECIPES
from Episode 1 / Season 5.
Sesame Nugget Bento
(For adults 901 kcal, For kids 410 kcal)
Maki Ogawaby Maki Ogawa

Bento contents:

  • White Sesame Chicken Nuggets
  • Black Sesame Chicken Nuggets
  • Rice
  • Chinese Cabbage Salad
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Broccoli
  • Snap peas
  • Noritama rice seasoning (store-bought, for adults)
  • Turban Boy decoration (for kids)

Ingredients: Black & White Sesame Chicken Nuggets

  • 1 chicken thigh (skinless), approx. 200 g
  • 1 egg
  • Vegetable oil for deep-frying

<Seasoning for white nuggets>

  • White sesame seeds
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

<Seasoning for black nuggets>

  • Black sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • A little grated ginger
  • A little grated garlic

Ingredients: Chinese Cabbage Salad

  • 300 g Chinese cabbage
  • 1.5 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1.5 tbsp sushi vinegar
  • Salt
  • Dried red chili pepper (Sliced)

Directions: Sesame Chicken Nuggets

1. Cut the chicken into 25 g pieces by slicing at an angle.
2. For the black nuggets, combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, grated ginger and garlic and marinate half the chicken for 20 minutes.
3. For the white nuggets, season the remaining chicken with salt, grated ginger and sesame oil and marinate for 20 minutes.
4. Divide and add the beaten egg to the two bowls and set aside for 5 minutes.
5. Cover the chicken in each bowl with the appropriate sesame seeds and press firmly to coat.
6. Heat the oil over medium-low heat and deep-fry the nuggets until cooked through.

Directions: Chinese Cabbage Salad

1. Cut the Chinese cabbage into thin strips.
2. Rub with salt to squeeze out the excess water.
3. Heat up the 1.5 tbsp of sesame oil, 1.5 tbsp of sushi vinegar and dried red chili in a pan and mix into the cabbage.

Bento Topics: Germany
BENTO TOPICS
from Episode 1/ Season 5.
Germany
  • Bento Topics. Today, we head to Stuttgart, a city in Southwestern Germany.

    Bento Topics. Today, we head to Stuttgart, a city in Southwestern Germany.

  • The pretzel is a type of bread from Germany that has a distinctive knotted shape. Pretzel dough is dipped in an alkaline bath of lye, shaped, and sprinkled with salt. An incision is made so that it splits open when baked, creating a striking contrast of colors.

    The pretzel is a type of bread from Germany that has a distinctive knotted shape. Pretzel dough is dipped in an alkaline bath of lye, shaped, and sprinkled with salt. An incision is made so that it splits open when baked, creating a striking contrast of colors.

  • A favorite way to eat pretzels is to open them up and slather them with butter. They're also commonly served with German white sausages and sweet mustard.

    A favorite way to eat pretzels is to open them up and slather them with butter. They're also commonly served with German white sausages and sweet mustard.

  • Sabrina lives in the suburbs of Stuttgart. She makes bentos for her two kindergarten children every day. To go with pretzels, she’s going to make maultaschen, a local specialty.

    Sabrina lives in the suburbs of Stuttgart. She makes bentos for her two kindergarten children every day. To go with pretzels, she’s going to make maultaschen, a local specialty.

  • Maultaschen are a German version of ravioli, with a filling made with a generous amount of spinach, ground beef, nutmeg, onions, parsley, and more. This filling is then wrapped in pasta dough and boiled.

    Maultaschen are a German version of ravioli, with a filling made with a generous amount of spinach, ground beef, nutmeg, onions, parsley, and more. This filling is then wrapped in pasta dough and boiled.

  • Maultaschen, homemade pretzels, and Sabrina’s hand-carved fruits and vegetables, all packed into a bento box. It’s a bento that showcases lots of German flavors!

    Maultaschen, homemade pretzels, and Sabrina’s hand-carved fruits and vegetables, all packed into a bento box. It’s a bento that showcases lots of German flavors!