Trial and Error: Making My First Bento

Day Eighty-five/ Day Eighty-six:

I’m searching through the cupboards looking for this MIA rice cooker my mom speaks of. “Its silver!” she yells from the other room. I move pots and pans and yell back, “Come look what I found!”

Pulling out a round, white and dusty rice cooker my mom looks over the appliance. She nods that this is what I have been looking for. I snap a picture and send it to my boyfriend. I guess he showed the picture to his mom and she replied, “That is really outdated. But great for American standards.” I laugh so hard I forget that there is no rice to even test this thing out. If it doesn’t work, I will be unable to make the bento tomorrow.

rice cooker

The ancient rice cooker that was hidden in my house

So we run down to the local Uwajimaya and look through the isles trying to find a bag of rice to take home and try out. Now rice usually comes in GIANT bags, like enough for probably a couple months of meals with rice. Well I’m afraid I’ll have to throw out a bunch since I’m not going to be making a bento every day since I only see him once a week. My sister points out to a relatively small bag with a label of five pounds. That should be enough, right? We head towards the check stand and once I get home I start making rice.

Now maybe you guys have a better recipe for preparing the rice before it gets thrown into the rice cooker. I wash the rice two or three times until the water is clean in the bowl. Then I drain the rice and let it sit for thirty minutes. Then I soak the rice in water for thirty minutes and place the bowl in the rice cooker. I hit the only button on my ancient rice cooker and wait for the light to turn off. I try a recipe that says to toast the rice with some soy sauce and add toasted sesame seeds. Let’s just say that didn’t turn out well. I practice with the molds that J-kun selected. The boy-shaped molds just look like ovals so I try using the bear mold which was his favorite when he bought it. Luckily, the bear turns out to be the shape of a bear even though the eyes and mouth don’t imprint well.

My mom and sister are the lucky taste testers of my batch of rice. I want to at least master making plain rice for tomorrow’s bento. I get some mixed reviews, but I decide I’ll be safe if I keep the rice just plain for tomorrow.


This morning I got up early to start preparing the rice and start cooking before I had to leave my house. I have a lengthy bus ride to get to the school so I’m crossing my fingers that nothing spoils. I gaze into the fridge and find some plump strawberries and grab a couple bananas. J-kun’s bento is two-tiers and mine is barely one. Seriously I can’t believe how much food I can cram into it when the white dishes fit in the palm of my hand. I start cooking the rice and frying up the potstickers. I look at the clock as I hurry along. I can’t miss my bus or I’ll miss the meeting AND our bento date. I look at the clock again and see that I have about ten minutes before I have to leave.

Quickly I arrange the food and snap a picture of the bentos together. Just in case the bananas turn a little brown or so he can see how it looks before I left. Another issue is the shaky bus. I’m hoping the food is so tightly packed that it will remain in the desired sections. I head for school and cross my fingers.

a homemade bento

Strawberries, bananas, rice and bear-shaped rice balls. I also added some Nutella heart sandwiches to mine.

After the meeting, we head towards an empty classroom. I hand him his bento and these tiny chopsticks. They’re travel chopsticks but they match the bag and his bento so he uses them without any complaint. He says grace and literally starts scarfing the food down. He pats his stomach when he finishes and gives me a quick hug. He’s also designed a rating system with evaluating how it looks, taste and the presentation. He’s a tough critic. My first bento receives a 2.5 out of 5 rating. Even with such a low rating he decides that he now wants to make a bento to see if he can do better. I’m a little nervous since he has morning classes so he’ll have to wake up even earlier to make one for me. I accept his request and give him the bento boxes.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: A Sleepy Date Leading to Burnt Bentos :( « Marissa Meditation
  2. Trackback: 1 Year Anniversary w/ WordPress « Marissa Meditation

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