It’s time to upgrade your packed lunch with a Japanese bento box! If you didn’t know, bento is a single-serving take out meal, usually lunch, that’s been prepared, packed, and is ready to go when you are.
What Is A Bento Box?
Bento boxes basically separate your meal into sections like a lunch tray, but make it much easier to transport, like a lunch box. If you’ve been to Japan, you've probably seen bento at all sorts of places, like convenience stores, bento shops, railway stations, and even department stores. And if you haven’t, you can still pay homage to the convenient Japanese lunch carrier with a bento box of your own.
What Is In a Bento Box?
In Japan, a traditional bento might come with noodles or rice with a protein like eggs, fish, or meat, as well as a pickled food and cooked vegetables. That being said, bento boxes may also contain sandwiches, pasta, salads, dumplings, wraps – the possibilities are endless! Bento has been present in Japanese culture since the 12th century during the Kamakura period, when workers would carry hoshi-ii, or cooked and dried rice, to work. Wooden lacquered boxes became widely available in the 16th century, and by the Edo period (1603–1867) bento culture had spread across the nation.
The Tradition Of The Bento Box
While you could make a bento box at home with the ingredients listed above, they’re meant to be enjoyed elsewhere, due to their portable nature. Whether you’re bringing a homemade meal to work, or sending your children off to school with lunch packed with love, a bento box is definitely a must-have for your on-the-go lifestyle. And if you need a little bento-spiration, Bokksu has got you covered.
How To Make a Bento Box
Of course, you can’t have a bento box without some rice. Instead of settling for the same old rice from the corner store, you can upgrade your bento box to include Bokksu’s Sakura Rice and Sea Salt Set, which comes with sakura rice with radish leaves, sakura-scented salt, a salt-scoop, and a tenugui (hand towel). Sakura rice isn’t just any rice – it uses salt-preserved cherry blossom flowers to flavor the rice as its steaming. Sounds deserving of the bento treatment if you ask me!
As mentioned, bento boxes often contain an ingredient that’s been pickled, which is why Iwashita’s Pickled Young Ginger Fried Rice Cracker is the perfect addition to your next bento box! Each pickled young ginger cracker is made with harvested young pickle that’s been thinly sliced, salted, and preserved in a sugar and rice vinegar mixture to give them their signature sweet yet tangy flavor. These rice crackers are made in collaboration with Iwashita Foods, which has a reputation for its tasty pickled shinshoga, so you know they’re good.
To keep your lunch from being totally boring, you can always throw some Japanese snacks into your bento box for a midday pick me up! The Bokksu Boutique, there are a bunch of baked goods to choose from, like the Mori No Madeline: Apple, which is a palm-sized cake filled with apple jam, or the Blueberry Tart, which features a sweet blueberry jelly center encased in a buttery pastry base. Moreover, you can never go wrong with a cookie, like the M Baker’s Cookie: Custard Flavor, or the ever-so-delicious Amaou Strawberry Kirara Sandwich Cookie, which is made with fluffy strawberry cream, corn flakes, and bits of freeze-dried Amaou strawberries wedged between two crisp strawberry cookies. No matter which dessert you choose, your bento box is sure to be the talk of the cafeteria!
Make sure to stop by the Bokksu Boutique for all your candy needs, or check out our Classic Bokksu Box for your monthly helping of all the Japanese snacks you could ever dream of! Each snack subscription box comes with 20-24 treats and a tea pairing, which means you’ll have all your snacks for the next month ready to go!
By Jillian Giandurco
See what an ekiben (train bento box) looks like with our video!