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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Bento Box – Meatball Bento


In today’s post I would like to show you how to pack a Meatball Bento. Meatball Bento is a popular bento box, perhaps because it looks somewhat cute with the small meatballs inside the bento box. Meatballs also freeze well, which is perfect for a bento box.

Hero shot of Meatball Bento.

School lunch in Japan often includes meatballs as they are easy for children to eat, and you can make them ahead. There are many variations to the ingredients and the flavours of meatballs, so that you don’t feel like you are eating the same bento again and again, even if you often pack meatballs in a bento box.

You can have meatballs made with pork mince, beef mince, chicken mince, and seafood. Lamb mince is not very common in Japan.

I used meatballs from my recipe Japanese Pork Meatballs (Niku-dango) with Two Sauces as a main dish to go into my bento box.

What’s in my Meatball Bento

Ingredients for Meatball Bento.

  • Cooked rice – you can cook rice ahead. Please refer to How to Cook Rice the Japanese Way. Pack cooked rice in a bento box while rice is still hot or warm as it is easier to shape. Let it cool down before adding other ingredients.
  • Japanese Pork Meatballs – pick one of the sauces from the recipe (I picked a sweet and sour sauce). Use leftover from dinner or make ahead (can be frozen).
  • Baby Mustard Green and Tuna Salad – I picked this to add a bright green colour to the bento box. You can make it the day before. As an alternative, you can pack other simple dishes such as Spinach Ohitashi Salad, Mustard Green Namul, or Broccolini Karashi-ae (Mustard Dressing).
  • Fried Vegetables in Broth (Vegetables Agebitashi) – another vegetable dish to go into the bento box. But the colour, texture and flavour are quite different from the other dishes. Agebitashi can keep for a few days in the fridge, so you can make it ahead of time.
    If you are having meatballs with teriyaki sauce, you may want to have a colourful dish with a sour flavour as an alternative. Pickled Carrot and Daikon or Sweet and Sour Pickled Red Cabbage are good choices.
  • Miso Pickled Vegetables – a bento with plain cooked rice is often accompanied by a few pieces of tsukemono (pickled dish). Miso-based tsukemono adds quite a different flavour to the meal. Other pickles are also good to go into your bento box.
  • A piece of lettuce – I used a piece of lettuce to make a partition between the meatballs and another dish, because the meatballs are saucy.

Packing Meatball Bento

I used a double decker bento box that came with a partition divider and I filled half of a compartment with rice. The remaining space was then filled with a couple of small dishes. Meatballs and agebitashi filled the other compartment.

Showing how to pack Meatball Bento in a double decker bento box.

  1. Place a partition divider in a bento box compartment and fill one side of the partition with rice.
  2. Place baby mustard greens and pickled vegetables next to the rice.
  3. Place agebitashi on one side of the other compartment.
  4. Place a piece of lettuce next to the agebitashi, then place meatballs to fill the compartment.

I didn’t want the baby mustard greens and the pickles mixed up, so I put the pickles in an okazu cup. I talked about okazu cups in my recipe Yakitori Bento. Many okazu cups are made of paper or foil that is thrown away after eating your bento.

Silicone okazu cups.

But today, I used a reusable silicon okazu cup (see the photo above). I found a pack of 3 silicone cups at Daiso discount store. They are a small version of silicone cupcake liners. They have two sizes, and each come in three different colours.

I like meatballs in a bento box. They look cute and easy to eat. They are delicious even if you don’t have them warmed up. A double decker bento box gives you an excitement as you reveal each compartment.

Revealing the contents o the double decker bento.

If you want to heat the rice and the meatballs to make the bento even more delicious, you may want to pack them together in one box. You can then heat one box and the other foods that you don’t have to heat up will be in another box.

If you are using a single layer lunch box, you may want to put the foods that don’t need heating in okazu cups, so that you can remove them from the bento box before heating the bento.

YumikoYM_Signature

Hero shot of Meatball Bento.

Bento Box – Meatball Bento

Meatball Bento is a popular bento boxes, perhaps because it looks somewhat cute with small meatballs inside the bento box. Meatballs also freeze well, which is perfect for a bento box.

I have written my instructions on how to pack the box to make it look like the photo of the bento box in the post. But you don’t need to place the ingredients in the same way.

Because bento is usually made mostly from left-over dishes or make-ahead dishes, the time indicated in this recipe only shows the time to pack the bento box.

Recipe Type:

Main

Cuisine:

Japanese

Keyword:

bento, bento box, meatball bento

Serves: 1

Author: Yumiko

Ingredients (tbsp=15ml, cup=250ml)

Instructions

  1. I used a double decker bento box (note 4).

1st Box

  1. While the rice is still hot or warm, place the rice in the bento box and let it cool.

  2. Put the partition divider next to the rice, then put Mustard Greens and Tuna Salad next the divider.

  3. Put miso pickled vegetables in a silicon okazu cup and place it next to the salad.

2nd Box

  1. Place agebitashi at one end of the box.

  2. Place a piece of lettuce against the agebitashi.

  3. Fill the remaining space with the meatballs.

Recipe Notes

1.It is best to pack cooked rice in a bento box while hot or warm as it is easier to shape the rice into the bento box.

2. You can pick your favourite sauce. I picked a sweet and sour sauce in this recipe.

3. If you are packing meatballs with teriyaki sauce, instead of sweet and sour sauce, you may want to have a colourful dish with a sour flavour as an alternative. Pickled Carrot and Daikon or Sweet and Sour Pickled Red Cabbage is a good choice.

4. If you are using a single bento box, you may need to use more okazu cups to separate the dishes within a box.

5. It is also a good idea to put the foods that don’t require heating in okazu cups, if you are intending to heat the rice and meatballs. Then it is easier to remove the cups before heating the bento.

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