Japanese Bento Dishes | Bento boxes have become popular worldwide for several benefits offered by them. The multiple small-sized sections that it comes with help to size down the meal portions and also provide an option to carry varied food menu items. This encourages the individual to consume a balanced meal consisting of several nutrients while on the go.
A large section of the bento is filled with carbs and protein. However, there are an array of side dishes that can be chosen to form the remaining part of the bento in addition to the pickles and fruits. The side dishes constitute an important part of the bento as they can uplift an ordinary meal and transform it into a delicious delight. Japanese dining has a large number of side dishes that are varied in taste and preparation. There is no place for boiled vegetables or limp salads here.
Most side dishes contain eggs, meat, fish or veggies or a combination of them as their hero ingredients. The mother, wife, husband, or any other individual who prepares the bento box cooks the side dishes alongside preparing the family’s previous night meals. They set aside food menu items that will retain their taste and flavour the following morning and become the bento’s side dishes.
The meal plan for the bento starts with the rice dish and then moves towards the side dishes. The side dishes go very well with the main dish, and a lot of thought goes into deciding the best fit for each day’s bento. They do not essentially involve complex preparations; they can be easily prepared, or sometimes they constitute leftovers of the previous night’s dinner. Since the entrée is mostly fish or meat, the side dishes are often vegetable preparations.
A few of the popular choices are Tamagoyaki, Japanese meatballs, asparagus roll with pork, sausages, Spinach salad, pickled daikon radish etc. It is essential to choose those side dishes seasoned well and eaten with a chopstick pair. The sauce too needs to be thickened and coated well to the food items. This ensures that they remain good till the food is eaten.
Other Bento Box Side Dishes include;
- Stir-Fried Eggplant with Ginger & Miso
- Gomae Spinach Salad
- Pickled Cucumber
- Komatsuna & Deep-Fried Tofu
- Kinpira Gobo
- Miso Soup with Greens and Tofu
- Simmered Kabocha Squash
- Japanese Potato Salad
- Inari Sushi
While making the meal plan, as stated above, care is taken to ensure that the side dishes complement and balance the main dish. So, for example, if you have a Chicken Karaage as the main dish then the side dish will not be greasy food preparation. A fresh salad with orange segments can be chosen, some cherry tomatoes and lettuce to add a dash of colour will be a refreshing complement. Various aspects such as the cooking method, flavour, colour, texture go into consideration while deciding the side dishes of the bento.
Bento Box Side Dishes are an excellent mode to perk up lunchtimes and ensure that household members relish their lunch though away from home. And the best way to do this is to choose the side dishes well! Therefore, preparing a bento is given a lot of importance by the lady of the house or whoever is involved in its preparation.
Liked this quick and easy to make Japanese Bento Recipe? Why not try our irresistible Chicken Teriyaki Recipe.