This book is a guidebook about the health and economic benefits of the bento written for bento beginners and aficionados alike to show how the bento lunch can easily be incorporated into anyone’s lifestyle.
This book sparked my interest because learning to make healthy, attractive, and economical bento-box meals might inspire me to actually eat better lunches more often.
The title, The Just Bento Cookbook, is appropriate for the book because the book contains twenty-five attractive bento menus and more than 150 recipes…as well as sections on bento-making equipment, bento staples to make and stock, basic cooking techniques, a glossary, and a planning-chart section to show readers how to organize their weekly bento making sessions.
The author of the book is Makiko Itoh.
Makiko Itoh was born in Tokyo and raised and educated in Japan, England and the U.S.
After years of living in New York City, she moved to Switzerland, where it was difficult to find authentic Japanese cooking.
This inspired her to go back to her roots and learn how to cook the food her mother and grandmother used to make, using the limited range of Japanese ingredients available to her.
In 2003 she started a blog about Japanese cooking called Just Hungry, currently the most popular blog about Japanese cooking written in English.
In 2007, she started a companion blog about bento box lunches called Just Bento. Today Just Bento boasts more than 220,000 subscribers and millions of page views per month.
The Just Bento Cookbook is a continuation of her passion for spreading the word about healthy Japanese home cooking around the world.
The book is organized into two main sections, the Japanese and the Not-so-Japanese.
The Japanese section includes classic bento menus such as Salted Salmon Bento, Sushi Roll Bento, and Chicken Karaage Bento…
…while the Not-so-Japanese section shows how Western food can be adapted to the bento concept, with delicious menus such as Summer Vegetable Gratin Bento and Everyone Loves a Pie Bento.
The Just Bento Cookbook is a treasure trove of delicious recipes, such as the following…
1. Large bento box...Fill with salad greens and lettuce.
2. Medium bento box.
- Wash, peel, and cube one medium potato. Put the potato pieces in a small pan. Add enough cold salted water to cover. Boil 10 minutes. Drain well.
- Boil and peel one egg.
- Put the potato and eggs in the medium bento box. Decorate with the cherry tomatoes.
3. Small bento box
- Combine 2Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 2tsp red wine vinegar, 1tsp Dijon-style mustard, salt, and pepper.
- Put well-drained tuna, capers, olives, and dressing in box with the vinaigrette.
- Nestle the small bento box in the greens. Cover.
- When ready to eat, stir all the salad components into the large bento box.
1. Chicken and Three-Color Pepper Stir-fry...Heat 1/2Tbsp olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add 3Tbsp roughly chopped green onion, 2tsp peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger. Stirfry 2min. Turn the heat up to the highest setting. Add cubed bell pepper. Stirfry 5min. Cut 2oz boneless, skinless chicken into 1/2″ chunks. Add chicken to the pan. Finish cooking the chicken. Add black pepper and soy sauce. Turn the stir-fry from the pan onto a cold plate so that it cools rapidly. When cooled, pack into the bento box, using lettuce or shiso leaves as a divider.
2. Instant Cabbage and Cucumber Pickles…Cut out the tough vein of one large green cabbage leaf, and slice the rest of the leaf into strips. Thinly slice a 2″ piece of English cucumber.Sprinkle the cabbage and cucumber with 1/2tsp sea salt. Massage well with your hands until the vegetables go limp. (Yeah, recipe actually says that)…Let rest for at least five minutes. Add a squeeze of lemon juice. Squeeze out any excess moisture before puting into a bento divider cup and into a bento box. Can be eaten immediately or stored in the refrigerator for four days.
3. Blanched Broccoli
4. Basic White Rice
5. Cherry Tomatoes