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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Book Review- 10 Minute Bento

If you don't know what bento lunches are, they are packed box lunches made to be attractive and healthy with a good variety of foods. Frequently packed in boxes specifically made for bentos, they can also be packed in other boxes like plastic refrigerator food storage boxes. That's just a very quick definition, because they can be complex and are absolutely an art form.

10 Minute Bento was originally written in Japanese by Megumi Fuji and translated to English. It's paperback and printed in full color with lots of photographs of the finished food and great serving ideas. Instead of cute characters, these are bento lunches that are attractive without being carefully planned out to create images.

You'll start with steamed rice, then add in the main course and vegetables. The recipes are written with cooking for one in mind.  The recipes can be doubled if you're cooking for more than one. Instructions are clearly written and understandable, and measurements are by weight. The rice steamed ahead of time and the meat topping and vegetable sides are the 10 minute part of the cooking, that includes prep time.If you're doubling the recipe it may take longer for cutting and prepping. The portions are smaller than a lot of people are used to, but perfect for healthy lunches on the go.

For people who rarely eat or cook Japanese food, there are some recipes that will be familiar enough to be comfortable. These are just a few of my favorite examples. There are several more.

  • Mushroom Stuffed Hamburgers
  • Sliced Pork Cutlet
  • French Toast- It's a cheesy, non-sweet toast to serve with a salad
  • Avocado and Cucumber Salad which gets it's protein from surumi (imitation crab meat)
For people who love Japanese food, there are lots of quick to cook recipes that will make them happy for lunch. Here are a few examples:
  • Miso Salmon and Veggies
  • Soba and Daikon Salad
  • Shrimp Edamame Stir-Fry
There are also pages with quick veggie sides ideas, and a lot of the recipes have vegetables in them as well. Some of these may become favorite ways to serve vegetables for their flavors.

At the end of the book is an overview of things you can pack bento lunches in for yourself or your loved ones, as well as a list of  possible substitutions and explanations of some of the ingredients. I'm fortunate enough to have a few well stocked grocers in my area. While some of the recipes do call for hard to find ingredients, most of them call for things that can be found fairly easily.
I like making easy bento lunches for my family. It's healthier and less expensive then getting fast food. It's also tastes better and fresher. There are so many great recipes in here to add a lot of variety to lunches. Since the recipes are small, they are also a good option for people who are cooking for one. 

Published by Vertical Inc, a company that specializes in translated Japanese books for the English speaking market.

I received a complimentary copy of this book to review, my reviews are always my personal and honest opinion. You can read more about my review policy here.

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