Why don’t you try making “Obento?” | Guidable Japan

Why don’t you try making “Obento?”

By Guidable Writers Jun 24, 2016

《What is Obento?》

When you come to feel you’re getting used to daily life in Japan, I would recommend you to try making “Obento.” “Obento” is one of the most splendid Japanese arts which is a lunch box filled with love! Rice balls (called Onigiri) are the most popular for “Obento” which is usually wrapped by aluminum foil or cling film accompanied by a lunch box. For a lunch box, we pack various kinds of side dishes. You might wonder why side dishes accompany rice balls (main dish.) This apparent contradiction is the reason why “Obento” is a Japanese art.


You can see “Obento” at convenience stores or take-out stores, and will be interested in the inside where tiny side dishes are packed neatly and beautifully, which seems to be a symbol of a character of Japanese people. We Japanese, especially mothers also cherish “Obento-culture” which is supposed to show their affection towards their each family.


《What are popular side dishes?》

According to a recent research, the following 5 dishes are ranked as the most popular ones for “Obento.”

1. Kara-age deep-fried chicken
2. Tamago-yaki sweetened and soy-flavored omelet
3. Win-nar Vienna sausage
4. Hann-bargu Hamburg
5. Korokke deep-fried croquettes


While there are very few kinds of frozen foods for “Obento” to be heated up and packed, I think “Tamago-yaki” is special. It tastes very different from cook to cook, and we would try to cook one by ourselves as often as possible. It might be thought that each taste of “Tamago-yaki” shows a taste of each family as we have cherished “Ofukuro-no-aji,” the taste of mother’s cooking. We sometimes become absorbed in nostalgias when we meet somebody’s “Ofukuro-no-aji” in traditional Japanese dishes such as Onigiri, Tamagoyaki and so on.


(picture 1:Kara-age and Tamago-yaki) (picture 2:Animated Win-nar and Hann-bargu) (picture 3:Special menu for picnics)


《For the first step…》

It will be easier for you to make “Onigiri” for your “Obento debut.” Here is the procedure.

#1: Dip your hands in the water, and sprinkle a little salt on the palm.

#2: Put cooked rice on your palm, and form it into an oval, a triangle, or a ball.

#3: Make a tiny hole to put some ingredients in such as pickled plum (ume-boshi) or bonito shavings with soy sauce (okaka) those are both traditional flavors for Onigiri.

#4: Wrap the shaped rice with sea weed (Nori.)

#5: Wrap completed Onigiri with aluminum foil or cling film.


As for #3, you might mix fish flour called “Furikake” with rice instead of putting some ingredients in the process of #2.


(picture 4:Various types of Onigiri) (picture 5:Animate Onigiri with sea weed) (picture 6:Soccer balls can be made)


《To cultivate your “Obento world” more…》

You will enjoy choosing various kinds of devices for making “Obento” such as picks to be decorated, partition for each dishes, or “Onigiri maker” at 100-kinn shops such as Daiso, http://www.daiso-sangyo.co.jp/shop/ or Seria. http://www.seria-group.com/shop/


(picture 7:Cute & colorful picks) (picture 8:Reusable partition) (picture 9:Onigiri maker)

As for boxes and devices, please be careful about hygiene especially in summer. You should always keep those ones clean to boil them to sterilize and dry naturally every time you use them. In fact, pickled plum (ume-boshi) has been known as having sterilization effects since the far past, and that is why it has been traditionally used for Onigiri or Obento in Japan.

Most importantly, you should ask your Japanese friends to show you how to make “Obento” in detail. Some are very good at making “Obento,” and such communication will make you understand “Obento culture” more, and closer to your friends. Please remember that you can also show your recipe in your country in turn, and a new type of “Obento” will be given a birth by you and your friends in your cooperation.