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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

Curry Soup Bento
BENTO RECIPES
from Episode 6 / Season 7.
Curry Soup Bento
(208 kcal)
Marc Matsumotoby Marc Matsumoto

Bento contents:

  • Curry Soup Bento
  • Turmeric raisin onigiri

Ingredients:

Makes enough for two 300 ml soup jars

  • 50 g onion
  • 30 g carrot
  • 5 g garlic
  • 5 g ginger
  • 1/16 tsp baking soda
  • 300 ml dashi
  • 2 tbsp 3S sauce
  • 2 tsp potato starch
  • 150 g chicken thighs
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 100 g mixed frozen vegetables
  • 2 tbsp sour cream

Directions:

*Preheat your vacuum flasks by filling them with boiling water.

1. Grate the onion, carrot, garlic, and ginger, then stir in the baking soda.

2. Mix the dashi, 3S sauce, and potato starch together in a bowl.

3. Season the chicken with salt.

4. Heat a pot over medium-high heat until hot. Add the oil and chicken in a single layer with the skin-side down.

5. Fry the chicken until browned on one side, then flip and brown the other side.

6. Remove the chicken from the pan and add the grated vegetables and curry powder. Fry the mixture until it forms a thick paste after 2-3 minutes.

7. Add the dashi mixture, and frozen vegetables, then return the chicken to the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil.

8. Pour out the hot water from the vacuum flasks. Divide the hot curry between the two flasks, and add a tablespoon of sour cream to each one. Tightly close the lids. Let the curry continue to cook in the vacuum flasks for 3-4 hours.

Pot-au-feu-style Soup
BENTO RECIPES
from Episode 6 / Season 7.
Pot-au-feu-style Soup
(114 kcal)
Ariga Kaoruby Ariga Kaoru

Ingredients:

Makes enough for one 300 ml soup jar

  • 1 (20 g) sausage
  • 1/2 (60 g) potato
  • 1 cm (12 g) carrot
  • 1/2 leaf (60 g) cabbage
  • 1 square piece of konbu (about 2-3 cm, or 1 g in size)
  • 200 ml water
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • A pinch of pepper

Directions:

*Preheat your vacuum flask by filling with boiling water.

1. Peel the potato and cut into bite-size pieces. Tear the cabbage into bite-size pieces.

2. Pour 200 ml of water into a pot, add all the ingredients and seasonings, and bring to a boil.

3. Pour into the flask and close the lid tightly.

Tomato Vegetable Soup
Tomato Vegetable Soup
(198 kcal)
Ariga Kaoruby Ariga Kaoru

Ingredients:

Makes enough for one 300 ml soup jar

  • 40 g ground meat (mixed pork, beef, or chicken)
  • 1/2 an eggplant (40 g)
  • 2 okra (30 g)
  • A little grated garlic
  • 100 ml tomato juice
  • 100 ml water
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp olive oil

Directions:

*Preheat your vacuum flask by filling with boiling water.

1. Cut the eggplant and okra into bite-size pieces.

2. Sauté the grated garlic in olive oil until aromatic. Add the eggplant, ground meat, and okra and continue to cook. Add the salt, water, and tomato juice and bring to a boil.

3. Pour into the flask and close the lid tightly.

Creamy Kabocha Soup
Creamy Kabocha Soup
(372 kcal)
Ariga Kaoruby Ariga Kaoru

Ingredients:

Makes enough for one 300 ml soup jar

  • 60 g chicken thigh
  • 80 g kabocha pumpkin
  • 2 tbsp rolled barley
  • 100 ml milk
  • 100 ml water
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil

Directions:

*Preheat your vacuum flask by filling with boiling water.

1. Cut the chicken and kabocha into 2-2.5 cm cubes.

2. Add the chicken, kabocha, salt, vegetable oil, and water to a pot. Cover and simmer for 4 minutes.

3. Add the milk and rolled barley and bring to a boil. Pour into the flask and close the lid tightly.

Salmon Miso-butter Soup
Salmon Miso-butter Soup
(286 kcal)
Ariga Kaoruby Ariga Kaoru

Ingredients:

Makes enough for one 300 ml soup jar

  • 1 fillet salmon (80 g, skinned)
  • 80 g potato (peeled)
  • 20 g shimeji mushrooms
  • 200 ml water
  • 2 tsp miso
  • 5 g butter
  • A pinch of pepper

Directions:

*Preheat your vacuum flask by filling with boiling water.

1. Cut the salmon and potato into bite-size pieces.

2. Add the potatoes, salmon, shimeji, and water to a pot. Cover and simmer for 3 minutes.

3. Dissolve the miso and pour into the flask. Add butter and pepper, and close the lid tightly.

Kinchaku Tamago Bento
BENTO RECIPES
from Episode 5 / Season 7.
Kinchaku Tamago Bento
(615 kcal)
Marc Matsumotoby Marc Matsumoto

Bento contents:

  • Kinchaku Tamago
  • Snap peas
  • Shiso leaves
  • Crunchy umeboshi
  • Rice

Ingredients:

Makes 4 kinchaku tamago

  • 400 ml water
  • 4 dried shiitake mushrooms (8 g)
  • 90 ml 3S sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 pieces abura-age (fried tofu sheets)
  • 1 piece dry spaghetti
  • 1 carrot, sliced and cut into flowers

Directions:

1. Soak the dried shiitake mushrooms in the water until they are fully rehydrated.

2. When the mushrooms are done rehydrating, pour the liquid into a frying pan, leaving any sediment behind in the bowl. Next, add the 3S sauce and salt to the pan.

3. Break the eggs into two small bowls.

4. Cut the abura-age in half, then use your fingers to open up a pocket into each half.

5. Pour an egg into one pocket of abura-age, then use a piece of spaghetti to sew the pocket shut. Repeat with the other pocket.

6. Bring the sauce to a full boil and lower the kinchaku into the liquid. Add the cut carrots and shiitake mushrooms around the pockets.

7. Reduce the heat to maintain a full simmer and let the kinchaku cook for 10 minutes, flipping them over every two minutes.

8. When the egg is cooked through, and there is almost no liquid left in the pan, the kinchaku tamago is done.

Pork Inari Bento
BENTO RECIPES
from Episode 5 / Season 7.
Pork Inari Bento
(For adults 912 kcal, For kids 484 kcal)
Maki Ogawaby Maki Ogawa

Bento contents:

  • Pork Inari
  • Rice (180 g for adults, 100 g for kids)
  • Lotus root
  • Carrot
  • Broccoli
  • Sweet corn
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Leaf lettuce
  • Toasted sesame seeds (for adults)
  • Puppy decorations (for kids)

Ingredients:

For Pork Inari (6 pouches)

  • 3 abura-age
  • 150 g ground pork
  • 40 g mixed vegetables
  • 50 g onion
  • A pinch each of salt and pepper
  • Vegetable oil, as needed
  • A pinch of potato starch
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp 3S sauce (1 tbsp each of sugar, sake, and soy sauce)

For the puppy decorations

  • Cheese
  • Nori
  • Carrot

Directions:

For Pork Inari

1. Cut the abura-age in half and open to form pockets.
*You can pour boiling water over the abura-age to remove excess oil.

2. Boil the mixed vegetables and drain. Add to a bowl along with the ground pork, minced onion, salt, and pepper. Mix well.

3. Stuff the inari pouches with the meat filling (about 40 g per pouch). Fold down the top to close.

4. Sprinkle evenly with potato starch.

5. Oil the frying pan and place the pouches seam-side down to seal. Brown both sides.

6. Add the 3S sauce and water to the pan, cover and steam for 4-6 minutes until the pouches are cooked through. Use a chopstick to prod and test them. If they’re springy, they’re done.

For the puppy decorations

1. Use an oval-shaped cookie cutter to cut out four puppy ears from sliced boiled carrot.

2. Cut out two circles from a slice of cheese.

3. Use nori for the eyes, nose, and mouth.

Bento Topics: Indonesia
BENTO TOPICS
from Episode 5/ Season 7.
Indonesia
  • Today, from the Indonesian island of Bali. This fishing village on the southern beach of Jimbaran Bay still retains much of the traditional way of life. It’s bustling with activing in the early morning as the fish are landed.

    Today, from the Indonesian island of Bali. This fishing village on the southern beach of Jimbaran Bay still retains much of the traditional way of life. It’s bustling with activing in the early morning as the fish are landed.

  • The fish go straight to the local fish market, the largest in Bali. It offers a huge variety of fresh seafood, including colorful fish, crabs, and lobsters from the Indian Ocean.

    The fish go straight to the local fish market, the largest in Bali. It offers a huge variety of fresh seafood, including colorful fish, crabs, and lobsters from the Indian Ocean.

  • Many of the nearby restaurants will offer to prepare a traditional dish called ikan bakar using the seafood purchased at the market. The seafood is grilled over charcoal, coated evenly with chili sauce, and grilled until it’s crisp on the outside, and fluffy and moist on the inside.

    Many of the nearby restaurants will offer to prepare a traditional dish called ikan bakar using the seafood purchased at the market. The seafood is grilled over charcoal, coated evenly with chili sauce, and grilled until it’s crisp on the outside, and fluffy and moist on the inside.

  • Bento maker Rahma and her son Akhtar are going to make an ikan bakar bento with horse mackerel, squid, shrimp, and clams. To make chili sauce, Rahma stir-fries chili peppers, tomatoes, shallots, onions, and garlic until aromatic, then puts the mixture in a blender. She adds a variety of seasonings, including coconut sugar, to make a hot and sweet sauce that pairs well with seafood.

    Bento maker Rahma and her son Akhtar are going to make an ikan bakar bento with horse mackerel, squid, shrimp, and clams. To make chili sauce, Rahma stir-fries chili peppers, tomatoes, shallots, onions, and garlic until aromatic, then puts the mixture in a blender. She adds a variety of seasonings, including coconut sugar, to make a hot and sweet sauce that pairs well with seafood.

  • Ikan bakar is typically served with stir-fried Chinese water spinach and steamed potatoes. It's accompanied with sambal matah, a spicy condiment of chili peppers and shallots seasoned with seared fermented shrimp paste. Rahma packs everything into a huge bento box to go on a family picnic.

    Ikan bakar is typically served with stir-fried Chinese water spinach and steamed potatoes. It's accompanied with sambal matah, a spicy condiment of chili peppers and shallots seasoned with seared fermented shrimp paste. Rahma packs everything into a huge bento box to go on a family picnic.

  • The family heads out on a picnic to enjoy the meal they made together. Have fun and enjoy the Indonesian-style seafood bento!

    The family heads out on a picnic to enjoy the meal they made together. Have fun and enjoy the Indonesian-style seafood bento!

Sanga-burg Bento
BENTO RECIPES
from Episode 4 / Season 7.
Sanga-burg Bento
(491 kcal)
Marc Matsumotoby Marc Matsumoto

Bento contents:

  • Sanga-burg
  • Common marigold rice
  • Biwa (loquat)
  • Bell pepper spears
  • Frill Lettuce
  • Stick broccoli sautéed with garlic and olive oil
  • Basil leaves

Ingredients:

For Sanga-burg (yields 6)

  • 400 g horse mackerel filets (700 g whole fish; cleaned, skinned, and deboned)
  • 60 g new onions, minced
  • 10 g fresh basil, minced
  • 2 g garlic, grated
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for frying
  • 1 tsp nam pla
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 6 very thin slices of lemon (1 mm thick)

For Common Marigold rice

  • 3 g dried common marigold flower petals
  • Boiling water
  • 2 rice cups (360 ml) rice

Directions:

For Sanga-burg

1. Cut 1/4 of the fish into 6 mm (1/4 inch) cubes, and add it to a bowl.

2. Chop the remaining fish with your knife until it forms a paste.

3. Add the onions, basil, and garlic into the paste and continue chopping until the mixture is evenly combined.

4. Add the mixture to the bowl with the chopped mackerel, then add the olive oil, nam pla, and salt. Knead the mixture together with your hands until the ingredients are uniformly combined.

5. Flatten out the mixture and divide it into 6 segments.

6. Heat a frying pan over medium heat until hot. Add a splash of olive oil and swirl it around to coat the pan.

7. Rub your hands with some more olive oil, and grab a segment of the Sangayaki mixture. Toss the mixture between your hands to shape it into an oval patty, and then place a lemon slice on one side. Continue tossing the mixture between your hands until the lemon is securely embedded in the patty.

8. Place the patty lemon-side down in the frying pan and repeat with the remaining Sangayaki mixture.

9. Fry the patties until they appear cooked 2/3 through, and then flip them over. Fry the other side until they're cooked through (internal temperature of 60 degrees C (140 degrees F).

For Common Marigold rice

1. Pour boiling water over the flowers until they are covered, then let them steep while you prepare the rice.

2. Wash the rice until the water runs mostly clear, and fill the rice cooker to the 2-cup marker.

3. Drain and rinse the blossoms and squeeze out any excess water. Add the flower petals to the rice and stir to distribute evenly.

4. Cook the rice according to your rice cooker's directions.

Boso Peninsula Chiba
Chiba Special
from Episode 4/ Season 7.
Boso Peninsula Chiba
  • Today on Bento Expo, Marc reports from the Boso Peninsula in Chiba Prefecture, located just to the east of Tokyo. It boasts one of the richest fishing grounds in Japan.

    Today on Bento Expo, Marc reports from the Boso Peninsula in Chiba Prefecture, located just to the east of Tokyo.
    It boasts one of the richest fishing grounds in Japan.

  • Marc visits the fishing port of Chikura. There, a local fisher treats him to a dish of sashimi made with aji, or horse mackerel. Marc then visits a restaurant to try the local specialty: sangayaki, a miso-flavored fish patty.

    Marc visits the fishing port of Chikura. There, a local fisher treats him to a dish of sashimi made with aji, or horse mackerel.
    Marc then visits a restaurant to try the local specialty: sangayaki, a miso-flavored fish patty.

  • Sushi chef Kurihara Kazuyuki is an expert on sangayaki. According to him, the dish evolved from namero, a dish prepared by fishers at sea.Freshly caught fish is finely chopped with miso, Japanese leek, shiso leaves, and ginger until it becomes sticky.

    Sushi chef Kurihara Kazuyuki is an expert on sangayaki.
    According to him, the dish evolved from namero, a dish prepared by fishers at sea.
    Freshly caught fish is finely chopped with miso, Japanese leek, shiso leaves, and ginger until it becomes sticky.

  • Abalone shells were once used as bento boxes. Fishers would stuff one half of an abalone shell with namero and the other half with rice. They would then grill this in a mountain hut called a sanga, which is one theory as to how sangayaki came into being.

    Abalone shells were once used as bento boxes.
    Fishers would stuff one half of an abalone shell with namero and the other half with rice.
    They would then grill this in a mountain hut called a sanga, which is one theory as to how sangayaki came into being.

  • Marc also visited a shop that serves a variety of sangayaki bentos, including sushi rice topped with sangayaki, as well as sangayaki rice burgers.

    Marc also visited a shop that serves a variety of sangayaki bentos, including sushi rice topped with sangayaki, as well as sangayaki rice burgers.

  • The bentos inspired Marc to create his own original sangayaki bento. He uses basil instead of shiso, and nam pla fish sauce instead of miso to make a western-style sangayaki, topped with lemon. He enjoys the bento together with the locals he has met in Chiba.

    The bentos inspired Marc to create his own original sangayaki bento.
    He uses basil instead of shiso, and nam pla fish sauce instead of miso to make a western-style sangayaki, topped with lemon.
    He enjoys the bento together with the locals he has met in Chiba.

Beef & Spicy Mayo Roll Bento
BENTO RECIPES
from Episode 3 / Season 7.
Beef & Spicy Mayo Roll Bento
(591 kcal)
Marc Matsumotoby Marc Matsumoto

Bento contents:

  • Beef & Spicy Mayo Roll
  • Green lettuce
  • Kinpira Gobo with black sesame seeds
  • Small cherry tomatoes

Ingredients:

Makes 3 rolls

  • 100 g spinach
  • 130 g red cabbage
  • 45 ml seasoned sushi vinegar
  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp sriracha
  • 200 g very thinly sliced beef (shaved beef)
  • 60 ml 3S sauce (equal parts soy sauce, sake, sugar)
  • 3 tsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 70 g takuan pickles (cut into 1 cm thick sticks)
  • 2 rice cups (360 ml) Japanese short-grain rice, cooked in a rice cooker and cooled to room temperature
  • 3 sheets nori

Directions:

1. Wash the spinach, but do not cut the roots off. Take care to rinse out any grit from between the stems.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and lower the spinach into the water root ends first. Return the water to a full boil, then drain the spinach and rinse under cold water until chilled.

3. Gather up the spinach by the roots, and squeeze as much excess water out as possible.

4. Line the root ends up on a cutting board and cut the roots off.

5. Divide the spinach into 3 piles. Flip half of each pile around so half the stems point in one direction and the other half point in the other direction.

6. To prepare the red cabbage, trim away the tough stems. Then, stack the cabbage leaves up and use a sharp knife to slice the cabbage into thin strips.

7. Put the cabbage in a bowl along with the sushi vinegar. Toss to coat evenly, then let marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

8. For the spicy mayonnaise, add the mayonnaise and sriracha to a bowl and mix until evenly combined.

9. To prepare the beef, add the meat and 3S sauce to a cold frying pan, and turn the heat to medium heat.

10. Cook the beef, shaking the slices loose so they don't clump together.

11. Continue cooking the beef until there is no liquid left in the pan and the beef is dark brown and shiny. Add the sesame seeds and let the meat cool completely.

12. To make the roll, line a sushi mat with plastic wrap. Next, prepare a bowl of water.

13. Drain the vinegar from the cabbage and lightly squeeze to eliminate any excess liquid.

14. Place a piece of nori on the sushi mat with the shiny side down.

15. Keep your hands wet using the bowl of water. Distribute the rice across the nori, leaving a 1 cm gap at the top. Use a picking and placing motion rather than a smearing motion to spread the rice.

16. Spread a strip of beef along the bottom edge of the rice, then top with a line of spicy mayo.

17. Line up the takuan pickles on top of the mayonnaise, and top with a strip of 1/3 of the spinach and 1/3 of the cabbage.

18. Grabbing the sushi mat, flip the edge of the nori up and over the fillings to meet the rice on the other side.

19. Give the roll a gentle squeeze to compress the contents, then use the mat to continue rolling the nori the rest of the way.

20. Give the roll a few squeezes, applying pressure evenly to all sides using the sushi mat.

21. To cut the roll, wet a long sharp knife and cut the roll in half using a rapid back-and-forth motion.

22. Line the halves up and slice them into quarters.

Miso-mayo Sawara Bento
BENTO RECIPES
from Episode 3 / Season 7.
Miso-mayo Sawara Bento
(For adults 814 kcal, For kids 429 kcal)
Maki Ogawaby Maki Ogawa

Bento contents:

  • Cooked rice (190 g for adults, 100 g for kids)
  • Miso-mayo Sawara
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Boiled sweet potato
  • Tamagoyaki (Japanese rolled omelet)
  • Snap Peas and Shimeji Mushrooms Sautéed in Butter
  • Shiso leaves
  • Shibazuke pickles (for adults)
  • Toasted sesame seeds (for adults)
  • "Clownfish" made with yellow cherry tomatoes (decoration for kid’s bento)

Ingredients:

For Miso-mayo Sawara

  • 2 filets Spanish mackerel
  • 1 heaped tbsp (15 g) mayonnaise (preferably Japanese)
  • 1 1/3 tbsp (20 ml) sake
  • 1/2 heaped tbsp (10 g) miso
  • 1 heap tbsp (10 g) sugar
  • 2 tsp ground sesame seeds
  • Flour, as needed
  • A dash of vegetable oil

For the Snap Peas and Shimeji Mushrooms Sautéed in Butter

  • Snap peas
  • Shimeji mushrooms
  • Butter
  • Salt and pepper

For the "Clownfish" decoration

  • Yellow cherry tomatoes
  • Nori
  • Cheese

Directions:

For Miso-mayo Sawara

1. Cut the fish into easy-to-eat pieces.

2. Sprinkle salt on both sides and set aside for 5 minutes to draw out the excess moisture. Pat dry with paper towels.

3. Dust both sides with flour.

4. Combine the mayonnaise, miso, sugar, sake, and ground sesame seeds.

5. Oil the pan and place the fish skin-side down (the fish will be plated skin-side up). Fry both sides to a golden brown.

6. Add the miso-mayo to the pan and coat both sides of the fish. Fry until most of the liquid has evaporated, then turn off the heat. Plate the fish and drizzle with any remaining sauce.

For the Snap Peas and Shimeji Sautéed in Butter

1. Blanch the snap peas for about a minute and drain. Remove the woody ends of the shimeji. Add the snap peas, shimeji, and butter to a heat resistant dish and microwave until the shimeji are cooked through. Season with salt and pepper.

For the "Clownfish" decoration

1. Coat the yellow cherry tomatoes with oil and wrap two thin strips of nori around the middle.

2. Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out the fin and tail from a slice of cheese.

3. Cut out the eyes and mouth from nori.

Bento Topics: The Philippines
BENTO TOPICS
from Episode 3/ Season 7.
The Philippines
  • Today, from Malabon in The Philippines. It's where many commuters who work in Manila live.

    Today, from Malabon in The Philippines. It's where many commuters who work in Manila live.

  • Road-side eateries called carinderias are a vital part of the local food culture. They serve a wide array of traditional dishes that customers are free to pick and choose. One carenderia is particularly beloved for its traditional flavors.

    Road-side eateries called carinderias are a vital part of the local food culture. They serve a wide array of traditional dishes that customers are free to pick and choose. One carenderia is particularly beloved for its traditional flavors.

  • The favorite dish at this carenderia is squid stuffed with pork. Squid tubes are stuffed with a fragrant mixture of pork fried with onions and red bell peppers, and then simmered for half an hour. One bite, and the synergy of pork and squid bursts in your mouth.

    The favorite dish at this carenderia is squid stuffed with pork. Squid tubes are stuffed with a fragrant mixture of pork fried with onions and red bell peppers, and then simmered for half an hour. One bite, and the synergy of pork and squid bursts in your mouth.

  • Bento maker Regine has three daughters. Together they’re going to make a kyara-ben, or cute character bento. Her husband Tom is in charge of the main dish, sisig.

    Bento maker Regine has three daughters. Together they’re going to make a kyara-ben, or cute character bento. Her husband Tom is in charge of the main dish, sisig.

  • He starts off by frying boiled pork belly so that it’s crunchy on the outside but juicy on the inside. He then chops it up and stir-fries it together with onions, mayonnaise, and juice from calamansi, a citrus fruit widely used in Filipino cuisine. The tangy juice pairs well with the rich umami of pork.

    He starts off by frying boiled pork belly so that it’s crunchy on the outside but juicy on the inside. He then chops it up and stir-fries it together with onions, mayonnaise, and juice from calamansi, a citrus fruit widely used in Filipino cuisine. The tangy juice pairs well with the rich umami of pork.

  • Regine uses natural colorings to make pink and gray onigiri, which she then turns into a zebra, a kitty cat, and a raccoon to represent her daughters. She packs these with Tom's sisig, and for a side dish she includes atchara, a type of pickles. This completes her cute kyara-ben, packed with Filipino cuisine!

    Regine uses natural colorings to make pink and gray onigiri, which she then turns into a zebra, a kitty cat, and a raccoon to represent her daughters. She packs these with Tom's sisig, and for a side dish she includes atchara, a type of pickles. This completes her cute kyara-ben, packed with Filipino cuisine!

Taimeshi Bento
BENTO RECIPES
from Episode 2 / Season 7.
Taimeshi Bento
(511 kcal)
Marc Matsumotoby Marc Matsumoto

Bento contents:

  • Taimeshi
  • Tamagoyaki
  • Nimono (Takenoko, carrot, satoimo, ganmodoki)
  • Snow peas
  • Shiso leaf
  • Kinome
  • Shibazuke

Ingredients:

For Taimeshi

Makes enough to pack into 3-4 bentos

  • 225 g sea bream
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 rice cups (360 ml) Japanese short-grain rice
  • 1 tbsp sake
  • 3 g konbu kelp

Directions:

1. Remove any scales or bones from the sea bream. Pat dry and sprinkle on all sides with the salt. Set the fish on a few layers of paper towels and let them drain for at least 15 minutes or up to overnight.

2. Wash the rice until the water runs mostly clear. Put the rice in the rice cooker bowl, then add the sake and fill the bowl up to the 2-cup marker with cold water. Let the rice soak while you finish preparing the fish.

3. When the sea bream is done salting, pat any liquid off the surface. Set it on a non-stick surface, then grill it in a toaster oven (set to broil) until the fish is cooked through and has started to brown around the edges.

4. When the fish is cooked, add half of it on top of the rice, and set the other half aside.

5. Cook the rice according to the rice cooker's directions.

6. When the rice is done, add the reserved sea bream and let it steam on top of the rice for a few minutes to reheat.

7. Once the fish has been reheated, break it up with a rice paddle or spatula and stir it into the rice.

8. Let the rice cool before packing it into bento.

Oyaki Bento
BENTO RECIPES
from Episode 2 / Season 7.
Oyaki Bento
(1098 kcal)
Maki Ogawaby Maki Ogawa

Bento contents:

  • Oyaki
    • 6 Oyaki stuffed with a ground meat and quail egg filling
    • 2 Oyaki stuffed with a condensed milk, kabocha, and raisin filling
  • Strawberries
  • Kiwi

Ingredients:

For Oyaki (yields 8)

  • 150 g flour
  • Approx. 50 g of mashed potatoes (made with instant mashed potato flakes)
  • 4 g baking powder
  • 15 g sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 75 ml warm water (about 50 degrees C)
  • Oyaki bear cubs
    • Nori
    • Cheese

For the ground pork and quail egg filling (one batch for about 8 oyaki)

  • 100 g ground pork
  • 130 g cabbage
  • 30 g Japanese leek
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • A pinch of salt and pepper
  • A pinch of salt (for the salted and squeezed cabbage)
  • 8 hard-boiled quail eggs

For the condensed milk, kabocha, and raisin filling (one batch)

  • 100 g frozen kabocha
  • Raisins, as needed
  • Condensed milk, as needed

Directions:

1. Add the flour, sugar, salt, vegetable oil, baking powder, and mashed potatoes to a food processor.

2. Use a spoon to mix the warm water into the baking powder.

3. Switch on the food processor and mix the dough. Remove, place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes. In the meantime, make the filling.

4. Cut the cabbage into shreds and massage with salt to draw out the excess water. Squeeze to drain. (No need to rinse the cabbage)

5. Combine the ground meat, chopped leek and cabbage, soy sauce, salt, and pepper, and knead until sticky. Form 30 g meat balls, flatten and wrap each around a quail’s egg.

6. Heat the kabocha in a microwave. Stir in condensed milk to taste. Mix with raisins and form 30 g balls.

7. Divide the dough into eight pieces and shape into patties about 35 g each.

8. Flatten the edges with your hands.

9. Press the filling into the center and gather the dough around to form a dumpling.

10. Cut off the tops and save for the ears of the oyaki bear cubs.

11. Oil a pan and fry both sides of the oyaki. (Make sure to use a large pan as the oyaki will swell!)

12. Once both sides are golden brown, add 100 ml of water and steam for 7-8 minutes.

13. Let cool and decorate to look like bear cubs. Place sliced cheese cut into circles for the nose, and use nori to form the eyes, nose, and mouth.

Bento Topics: Singapore
BENTO TOPICS
from Episode 2/ Season 7.
Singapore
  • Today, from one of Asia’s most diverse countries, Singapore.

    Today, from one of Asia’s most diverse countries, Singapore.

  • Hawker Centers are food courts home to stalls that feature a wide range of cuisines. They're an important part of everyday life in Singapore. In 2020, Singapore’s Hawker Culture was listed as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.

    Hawker Centers are food courts home to stalls that feature a wide range of cuisines. They're an important part of everyday life in Singapore. In 2020, Singapore’s Hawker Culture was listed as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.

  • This innovative hawker bento features seared salmon with mentaiko sauce on top of butterfly pea rice, evocative of a blue lagoon. It looks and tastes delicious.

    This innovative hawker bento features seared salmon with mentaiko sauce on top of butterfly pea rice, evocative of a blue lagoon. It looks and tastes delicious.

  • Shirley Wong is a bento artist whose social media account has over 300,000 followings. Her cute kyaraben made with everyday ingredients have helped spread bento culture worldwide.

    Shirley Wong is a bento artist whose social media account has over 300,000 followings. Her cute kyaraben made with everyday ingredients have helped spread bento culture worldwide.

  • Her concern over food loss has led her to focus on making bentos with imperfect produce. Today, she’s using imperfect mangos to make a tropical and fruity stir-fry. Sweet mangos and umami-rich chicken are a great match.

    Her concern over food loss has led her to focus on making bentos with imperfect produce. Today, she’s using imperfect mangos to make a tropical and fruity stir-fry. Sweet mangos and umami-rich chicken are a great match.

  • She places two fried eggs on a bed of brown rice and adds pieces of nori and cheese to make a cute kitty cat. She manages to transform imperfect produce into a delightful bento.

    She places two fried eggs on a bed of brown rice and adds pieces of nori and cheese to make a cute kitty cat. She manages to transform imperfect produce into a delightful bento.

Shichimi Chicken Bento
BENTO RECIPES
from Episode 1 / Season 7.
Shichimi Chicken Bento
(787 kcal)
Marc Matsumotoby Marc Matsumoto

Bento contents:

  • Shichimi Chicken
  • Rice topped with yukari
  • Asparagus and mini peppers stir-fried with garlic and black sesame seeds
  • Kabocha salad (kabocha with mayonnaise, edamame and salt)
  • Frill lettuce

Ingredients:

For Shichimi Chicken

Makes enough to pack into 2 bentos

  • 1 1/2 tbsp mayonnaise (preferably Japanese)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 packed tbsp brown sugar
  • ½ tsp shichimi togarashi, plus more for garnish
  • 350 g boneless skin-on chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces

Directions:

1. Make the marinade by whisking the mayonnaise, soy sauce, brown sugar, and shichimi togarashi together in a bowl.

2. Add the chicken and stir to coat evenly. Let this marinate for at least 15 minutes or up to overnight.

3. Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add the chicken with the skin side down to fry the chicken. Let this fry until the chicken is cooked halfway through and the skin has browned.

4. Flip the chicken over and continue cooking it until it's browned on the other side. Now turn the pieces around as needed until it is cooked through (you can cut one in half to check for doneness).

5. Transfer the chicken to a plate and let cool completely before packing it into a bento box. You can garnish the chicken with an extra sprinkle of shichimi togarashi if you'd like.

Maki-maki Omurice Bento
BENTO RECIPES
from Episode 1 / Season 7.
Shichimi Sausage Bento
(For adults 834 kcal, For kids 510 kcal)
Maki Ogawaby Maki Ogawa

Bento contents:

  • Rice(230 g for adults, 130 g for kids)
  • Shichimi Sausage
  • Cabbage, Ham, and Shimeji Mushrooms Steamed with Butter
  • Broccoli
  • Lettuce
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Shiokonbu (shredded salted konbu) (for adults)
  • White sesame seeds (for adults)
  • Little Piggy decoration
    • Ham
    • Nori

Ingredients:

For Shichimi Sausage

  • 250 g ground pork
  • 2 g salt
  • 0.5 g pepper
  • 5 g shiso leaves
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise (preferably Japanese)
  • 1 g shichimi togarashi (seven spice)
  • 1.5 g garlic powder
  • Vegetable oil for stir-frying, as needed

For the Cabbage, Ham, and Shimeji Mushrooms Steamed with Butter

  • 5 g butter
  • Approx.60 g shimeji mushrooms
  • 2 leaves cabbage (chopped)
  • 15 g ham
  • A pinch of salt and pepper

Directions:

For the Shichimi Sausage

1. Cut the shiso into shreds.

2. Place all the ingredients except for the vegetable oil into a large flat food storage bag with a zipper seal. Knead until the mixture is sticky.

3. Flatten the bag.

4. Divide into four long sections by pressing down with a chopstick.

5. Squeeze the middle of each section with your fingers to create smaller sections, and freeze overnight. Once frozen, you can easily break it up into pieces.

6. Place the sausages in a heated pan.

7. Once both sides are brown, add 50 ml of water, cover, and steam to cook through.

For the Cabbage, Ham, and Shimeji Steamed with Butter

Place the ingredients in a heat-resistant dish, cover lightly with plastic wrap, and microwave. Season with salt and pepper.

For the Little Piggy

1. Use an oval-shaped cookie cutter to cut out a slice of ham. Cut in half to form the ears.

2. Use a straw to cut out the nose from the leftover ham.

3. Place the ham parts on the rice and use nori for the eyes, nostrils, and mouth.

Bento Topics: Tokyo
BENTO TOPICS
from Episode 1/ Season 7.
Tokyo
  • Today, from Tokyo in spring, where cherry blossoms are blooming. People celebrate the coming of spring by enjoying  the custom of hanami, cherry-blossom viewing.

    Today, from Tokyo in spring, where cherry blossoms are blooming.
    People celebrate the coming of spring by enjoying the custom of hanami, cherry-blossom viewing.

  • This is a recreation of a bento enjoyed during hanami 200 years ago. The bento box is fitted with drawers to hold small dishes and sake vessels as well as food. The four-tier stacking box contains a full-course meal, from spring mountain vegetables and sushi to sweets.

    This is a recreation of a bento enjoyed during hanami 200 years ago.
    The bento box is fitted with drawers to hold small dishes and sake vessels as well as food.
    The four-tier stacking box contains a full-course meal, from spring mountain vegetables and sushi to sweets.

  • Festive hanami bentos are still enjoyed today. This restaurant offers a bento featuring sakuradai, the moniker for female sea bream that turn cherry pink when they’re in season. Since ancient times, sakuradai have been enjoyed as a spring delicacy.

    Festive hanami bentos are still enjoyed today.
    This restaurant offers a bento featuring sakuradai, the moniker for female sea bream that turn cherry pink when they’re in season.
    Since ancient times, sakuradai have been enjoyed as a spring delicacy.

  • These bite-size sushi balls are made by wrapping sushi rice, sakuradai, and kinome in a cloth. Threaded on a skewer along with similarly made salmon sushi, they make a cute and delicious finger food perfect for hanami.

    These bite-size sushi balls are made by wrapping sushi rice, sakuradai, and kinome in a cloth.
    Threaded on a skewer along with similarly made salmon sushi, they make a cute and delicious finger food perfect for hanami.

  • Simmered kanpyo, shiitake, and nori are mixed with sushi rice and wrapped in a thin omelet and salted cherry blossom leaf to make a sushi infused with the scent of cherry blossoms. Fried shrimp and small fish are topped with scrambled egg to look like nanohana blossoms.

    Simmered kanpyo, shiitake, and nori are mixed with sushi rice and wrapped in a thin omelet and salted cherry blossom leaf to make a sushi infused with the scent of cherry blossoms.
    Fried shrimp and small fish are topped with scrambled egg to look like nanohana blossoms.

  • The visually stunning bento also contains bamboo rice, baby octopus, and mountain vegetable tempura. It’s packed with spring flavors. A hanami bento, made to celebrate spring's arrival.

    The visually stunning bento also contains bamboo rice, baby octopus, and mountain vegetable tempura. It’s packed with spring flavors.
    A hanami bento, made to celebrate spring's arrival.