My friend Randell suggested making an “easy-to-prepare-even-for-n00bs” bento, which I thought was a great idea and went immediately to making and photographing the preparation of a “starter” bento. My objective is to show how easy it is to prepare baon bento-style, without needing to purchase anything outside the standard appliances and utensils found in the kitchen nor to do anything beyond cooking rice with a rice cooker. This procedure prepares baon for one person.
Things you will need:
1. A rice cooker with steamer tray
NOTE: If your rice cooker does not have a steamer tray, you can use aluminum foil.
2. A sharp knife and a cutting board
3. Several small cups or bowls that are heat-resistant
4. A standard box for baon such as Lock n’ Lock or Tupperware, preferably one that can be tightly sealed
Food you will need:
Carbs: 1 cup of uncooked rice (Note: 1 cup of uncooked rice will probably yield way more rice than what you’d need for 1 serving. However, most rice cookers will have a minimum amount of rice to cook to avoid burning. Just put the remainder in a tightly sealed container and put it in the freezer.)
Protein: Any amount of hotdogs/sausages that you feel will be enough for 1 serving
Veggies: Any amount of “hard” veggies such as carrots, potatoes, cucumbers, onions, etc that you feel will be enough for 1 serving
Others: Enough water for cooking rice; Salt and pepper; Soy sauce
1. Wash the rice thoroughly. Drain and set aside in the rice cooker bowl.
2. Peel the veggies and wash thoroughly. Here you see that I used one small carrot and one small potato.
3. Cut the veggies into thin strips and place in a small bowl. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper, and maybe half a teaspoon of soy sauce. Toss thoroughly to distribute the flavor. Place into the steamer tray.
4. Cut the hotdogs or sausages into short sections. Here I used two jumbo-sized cheese hotdogs, and cut them into 6 each. Place in another small bowl and put it into the steamer tray as well.
Here you see I have a third bowl that holds leftover rice. For more information about freezing rice, go here.
5. Put the necessary amount of water you need to cook your rice into the rice cooker bowl. I haven’t specified the exact amount here because it would depend on the type of rice you are cooking.
6. Place the steamer on the rice cooker bowl and cover. Set the rice cooker to “cook”. Wait until the rice is cooked or until the rice cooker setting turns automatically to “warm”. The veggies and the protein will also be done by the time the rice is done cooking. Turn off the rice cooker.
NOTE: If your rice cooker does not have a steamer tray, you can instead use aluminum foil packets to hold your veggies and protein (separately). Place the packets directly on the uncooked rice. Make sure that each packet is tightly sealed to avoid any juices from spilling into rice. See a sample foil packet here.
7. Remove the steamer tray carefully, and set aside.
8. Get a desired amount of cooked rice from the rice cooker and place it to one side of your bento box. Note here I’m using a standard 550ml rectangular Lock n’ Lock, with the inner compartments removed. The rice here takes up around 33-40% of the box.
9. Take the sliced hotdogs/sausages and place them next to the rice. Make sure to drain the hotdogs before packing them (they will have shed some liquid while steaming). This will take a second 33% of the box.
10. Finally, place the veggies in the remaining space in your box. You may elect to sprinkle a bit of the liquid that it shed while steaming back on the veggies, but I prefer not to because I wasn’t using any dividers. The liquid will probably soak the rice and the hotdogs and mix the flavors, which may or may not make your food taste bad. Without the liquid the veggies will be a bit crunchy, like what I did with mine.
And there you go, a painless bento that will take you under 30 minutes to prepare, cooking included.