Speed Bento Technique: Freezing Rice to Fit Your Container
In a previous post I described freezing onigiri to make a bento stash for busy mornings. In a twist on that, you can freeze fresh rice in the shape of your bento box to speed up the making of a normal lunch when you don’t have fresh rice made.
Lay some plastic wrap in your bento box (or in a smaller container that fits into your box or Laptop Lunchbox), pack in the warm, fresh rice, and wrap up the rice. Freeze the wrapped rice right in the smaller container to help it maintains its shape while freezing — then you can remove your bento container once it’s frozen (leaving the rice in the freezer). You can still freeze rice shaped to fit your bento box even if it doesn’t have smaller containers — just mold the plastic-wrapped rice with your hands up against the side of the box, and pop the whole box in the freezer. For long-term storage, put the frozen wrapped rice in a freezer bag and suck the excess air out with a straw before sealing (think do-it-yourself Food Saver vacuum packing).
When you’re packing your bento in the morning, just put the wrapped rice in your microwave and nuke it until it’s soft and warm again, unwrap and pack it in the box. This works with a variety of rice: plain, fried, mixed with furikake or other flavorings, etc. — whatever you like. (EDIT: If you’re concerned about microwaving food wrapped with plastic wrap, unwrap the frozen rice, place it in a bowl, then cover the bowl with a lid, microwave-safe cover or plastic wrap that doesn’t touch the surface of the food. Then microwave until warm.)