So, if you are anything like me then when you watch your favorite Anime you think, "I want to make a Bento Box
like that!" and then you try to figure out how to make the delicious animated lunch you see on the screen.
But, alas, 'tis all in vain! You can
not seem to do anything right!
Well I have wonderful news! After all my years of personally searching I have figured out how to make a basic Bento! In this post I will show how to make;
Tako Sausage (Octopus shaped sausage)
Tamagoyaki (Sweet egg Omelet)
Steamed and decorated white rice
Edamame (Soy Beans)
And there was much rejoicing!
(I'm sorry, but we will save the elusive bunny shaped apples for another time)
So lets get it on like Donkey Kong!
First thing that you MUST do if you want to make these is to get the right kind of sausages! I do not know if I can stress how crucial this is. Part of the reason that it took me so long to figure out how to make these right is because I kept using the wrong type of viener over and over again! NIEN! You cannot do that as well! There is no using Little Smokies, Cocktail Wieners, and absolutely no Vienna Canned Sausages! NO BUENO!
What you want to use is this!
This is an Asian Mini Pork Sausage pack found at the local (or non-local) Asian Market. You can choose any flavor you would like ;)
Once you have that you can begin.
Get your best non-stick pan and add a little bit of oil to it, and set it to medium-low heat. Let that heat up a little bit, make sure the pan does not get too hot because then you will have burnt octopuses (Octopi?), and although that may sound appealing to you, it does not to me...
Then you are going to thaw your delicious sausages. You want roughly four per person. Do not cook them in it for too long, you just want them thawed enough to cut easily.
Get out the sharpest knife you have, and it should also be small.
Now you are going to cut these about half or two thirds of the way up the sausage. You can either cut four legs (recommended version) or, for the super realists out there, eight legs. Just slice down the side and cut it in half, then turn and cut it again.
It should look something like this.
Next, put the little bugger right in the pan and watch the magic! O.O
It will start to open up and the little legs will curl up and out forming kawaii little tentacles!
Once they have spread apart a bit then you want to prop it up so that they fry in that position. It only takes a few minutes to cook each one.
Once you get the hang of it you can cook a bunch of them at once, but keep a close eye on them making sure they do not burn! (You know how I feel about the burnt octopi)
I would suggest only doing three to five at a time so that you can keep a good watch on them.
Look at the cute little dancing ocean-animal-shaped meat creatures!
You can cook them plain like this or add seasoning like soy sauce to them.
Speaking of eyes, if you want those then you can has! I warn you now though, it is quite a pain in the spiders back carapace to do this!
Take some sesame seeds and stick them in for eyes, the darker seeds the better. It will be difficult to stick them in (you will probably need to puncture a little hole in it
first to be able to do so) before you put them in the pan.
Set these aside and we shall now move on to the other dishes.
This is a pretty simple thing, but because it is simple it can be messed up easily as well. I like to use a rice cooker to do this, if you do not have one than you can use a pan. You will want to use Jasmine Rice for Japanese cooking.
When I cook rice I average about 1/2 cup rice per person. Measure that out into the cooking utensil of your choice.
You are going to need to rinse the rice, it will look cloudy once you add water to it. Rinse and drain the rice about four times or until the water is relatively clear. (It should be like tap water, not lake water!)
I find the best way to rinse it is to add about double the water and then make a claw, like an evil villain or 80's rocker, and then spin it around the rice a few times (about 20 seconds), then drain the water and repeat.
Once the water is pretty clear CAREFULLY drain the water out (It is not the end of the world if there is a little bit left in there).
Then add an equal amount of water as rice and then add an extra 1/2 cup of water (a little bit more than 1/2 if you are doing it on the stove top.)
Plug it in and let it cook, unplug it immediately once it is finished so the rice does not burn. For the stovetop cook on low heat for 15-20 minutes and keep a close eye on it.
When you are putting together the Bento you can add whatever you want to the rice, seaweed is preferable. You can buy strips, sheets, or flakes to put on top.
These are a few of my favorites, also found at the local or non-local Asian market!
Tamagoyaki (For Noobs, Sweet Egg Omelet)
I developed this recipe myself, I tried a bunch of others and they did not taste how I wanted them to. For some people it will take a while to get used to a sweet egg, we are so used to our salty ones after all, but it is a really easy and tasty snack once you know how to make it.
Ingredients for this per serving are,
1 Tablespoon cold water, 1 egg (room temp. not cold), about 1/4 teaspoon soy sauce, and about 1 teaspoon of sugar.
*Most people use sugar and salt but I prefer the taste soy sauce and it is less grainy that way.
I eyeball it when I add the ingredients but I found that the measurements are just about right. You can do it to taste if you like it saltier or sweeter, but keep in mind it is a SWEET egg omelet, not your mamma's Tex-Mex Fiesta Grande omelet!
Mix this very well, you want the sugar to be mixed in and dissolved or you will have an odd grainy mess on your hands, ewwwww....
You also want it mixed well so it comes out yellow and not multi-colored!
<- Mix it even more than this!
Your pan should be the best non-stick pan (to the rescue yet again!) and it should have some oil, shortening, etc. in it because you cannot afford for the egg to stick on the pan at all.
Heat the pan to Medium-Low, like a 3 out of 10. Make sure to keep an eye on the heat, the egg should not sound like a snake when it hits the pan (SSSSSSSS!!), it needs to be cooked slowly.
If you are cooler than me you will use a fancy square pan to cook this in, it makes it come out looking a lot sharper.
Pour the egg mixture into the pan and make sure it is spread out thin and evenly.
Let it cook so that the bottom is cooked all the way and there is a little bit of raw egg on the top, this is used for it to stick together and roll it up.
Flip it about 1/3 of the way across and let it sit for a few seconds, then fold it again so there is only a little bit unrolled and let it sit for a few seconds, then fold it al the way over and let it cook on one side for about 30 seconds and flip over and let it cook another 30 seconds. You want the egg to be slightly undercooked.
It may take a few tries to get good at this, just serve the good looking ones to the guests and keep the others for yourself. ;)
Remove the omelet and let it rest for about a minute. If there is any excess oil you will want to dab that off.
Then cut them however thick or thin you would like, I do about an inch wide per piece.
Set them aside, they can be hot or cold when you eat them.
Each omelet should yield about six pieces.
Edamame (Soy Beans, once again for the noobs)
This has to be the hardest one out of all of these to make!!!
This is the easiest thing to make out of all of these, you do not even need to go to the non-local Asian market to find these!
First, buy some Edamame. You can find them in the frozen section of pretty much any grocery store. Some even have the "Easy Steam" thing going on, where you just stick the bag in the microwave and heat them in the bag.
You can steam these in the little steamer piece on your rice cooker, but I do not like them over cooked so I prefer separate cooking.
Defrost them in a microwave or in a pan so they are hot.
Add salt if you so wish and set these aside as well.
Making Your Bento
Now that everything is ready and "set aside" we can get to the fun part!
I have a plethora of bento boxes myself, if you do not you can use a plate or a tupperware, that is what I had to do when I started. :)
Put the rice into the container of choice and lightly pat it down. Add whatever topping you would like to it, pickled plumb, seaweed, etc.
I used a mixture of seaweed and rice crackers, my favorite flavor wise.
Put the Edamame next to that, using fancy plastic grass if you have it to separate them.
In the other side place your little Tako Sausages and
Tamagoyaki. I added a little soy sauce bottle shaped like a fish, because I think it is pretty kawaii~!
There you have it!
This is how I made mine, but it is all about getting creative and making it look however you would like!
If you have no bento box you can also make it like this.
Hurrah for plates!
I do realize that it does not look exactly like the ones in the Anime, but do people really look like that? Hmmmmm? :/
Anyways, congratulations! You are now ready for watching you favorite Anime! (I will not accept Naruto, Bleach, or anything else that is Americanized on Cartoon Network BTW, more like Rurouni Kenshin, Rayearth, Darker Than Black, Azumanga Dio, FMA, or FMP)
You can also give this to the person you like, take it to the sports meet or cultural festival, or any other typical activity you see an Anime character partaking in!
Have fun ;)
Enjoying the Noms of their labor,