Non japanese bento friendly meals.

Post your recipes for dishes good in bentos & packed lunches

Non japanese bento friendly meals.

Postby mvibes » Tue Jul 07, 2009 7:19 pm

Recently I have moved to a small town. Seriously small, asian, hispanic, ect ingrediants are EXTREMELY HARD to find here. I have to travel 2+ hours just to find a store and I cant do that very much.
Since I will be living here for the next couple of years (and since most of my bentos have been filled with japanese foods) I need bento friendly foods/recipes that dont need such ingrediants.
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Re: Non japanese bento friendly meals.

Postby mvibes » Tue Jul 07, 2009 7:20 pm

I seriously appriciate anyone who helps me!
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Re: Non japanese bento friendly meals.

Postby Caldercup » Wed Jul 08, 2009 7:11 am

I think you could still make things like tonkatsu -- they have to have thin-cut pork chops, right? You might have a harder time getting panko, but even the regular grocery stores in my area have been stocking that for a long time.

There are also tons of on-line resources for ordering things like nori, furikake, and other non-perishable items. Try Googling "asian grocery online" and check out those results.

Good luck!
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Thank goodness he thinks bento is fun!

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Re: Non japanese bento friendly meals.

Postby varenikje » Fri Oct 16, 2009 8:53 pm

Another possibility is to use the 2+ hour shopping trip to stock up on some ethnic supplies. I live in just such an area as you are speaking of, and ethnic anything is a leetle hard to find. So we don't do the shopping trip very often, but when we do (our "city shopping trip" is about 3 hours away) I try to stock up on some items. As it turns out, our local Safeway does sell seaweed, but not a whole lot else. Do you have a Walmart? They sometimes sell ethnic foods. But it looks like the "meat and potatoes" crowd eats bento meals too, so it shouldn't be too hard to do.
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Re: Non japanese bento friendly meals.

Postby Folly » Fri Oct 16, 2009 10:23 pm

When Japanese immigrants first came to the U.S., they didn't have the same ingredients they had at home, so they adapted. For example, I've noticed that most of the sushi recipes I find online or written by Japan-born authors call for rice vinegar. However, all the Niseis (American-born children of turn of the century immigrants) I know insist that it has to be Heinz vinegar. They are used to the tarter sushi rice because that's what their parents made for them. And Spam Musubi was born in Hawaii, not Tokyo! So don't be afraid to adapt your recipes and make something similar to, but not exactly Japanese.

While nori does make eating onigiri/omusubi neater, I have eaten a lot of naked, salted ones. Long, thin slices of cucumber or egg make good nori alternatives. And if you can't fill it with ume, there is salmon or tuna, or homemade salted vegetables. Even though your town is small, perhaps you can find a health food store that carries nori, miso, or tofu. And lots of mainstream supermarkets now carry tofu and soy sauce. Trader Joe's is a great source for bento friendly items. I buy jars of olives, marinated mushrooms and roasted peppers. They also have gyoza and pork buns.

But you were asking about non-Japanese bento. . . Just think about small portions of your regular meals. I've sent my DH off with leftover spaghetti and steamed vegetables. Mini-meatloafs. Fried sausages and scalloped potatoes. Roll-ups of salmon, cream cheese & cucumbers. Roll-ups of thinly sliced roast beef & horseradish. (If you can't find flatbread, make your own. Flatten some bread slices with a rolling pin = adaptation!) Variety, scale and composition make beautiful bento. Take a look at Biggie's Flickr page and you will see lots of non-Japanese bento. I'm sure that very soon you will be adapting a lot of your own recipes into bento-friendly portions. ^_^
Last edited by Folly on Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Non japanese bento friendly meals.

Postby jerseygeekgirl » Sat Oct 17, 2009 8:47 am

I feel your pain. Out of the two supermarkets in the imediate area, despite our large Hispanic population, only ONE carries plain rice. Boil-in-bag rice was the only rice you could purchase at the supermarkets until two years ago! Adding insult to injury, the Asian supermarket is about an hour away and it really doesn't specialize too much in Japanese-only foods. If only I lived up north and could go to Mitsuwa!

Pasta salad works very nicely in a bento and you can make it to whatever your tastes please. I use black olives, mushrooms, and peas. Also, and it was said in another post here, use your left overs. You'd be amazed how left-overs can be revived in a bento. Going out to a resturant? If you can't finish your meal because of insanely sized portions, take some home and think of a way to use them in a bento! I also tend to buy frozen vegetables, steam what I need, and throw them into my bento. I also fry things up in a pan and use an instant mix-with-water sauce. Knorrs and McCormick are my friends indeedy.

Also there are a lot of recipes that have easy to obtain ingrediants out on the internet. Do some searching and you'll find something fantastic to put in your bento!
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Re: Non japanese bento friendly meals.

Postby pauline » Sat Oct 17, 2009 11:32 am

Almost all of my bentos are non-japanese. I'll make a dozen mini-quiches (Tenderflake mini cups) and freeze them. I'll pull them out for bentos. I also steam broccoli & veg to put in. I might have some rice, but sometimes, it's cut up pieces of bread and cheese. Hard-boiled eggs are a good staple too. I've cut up smoked sausages & included mustard for the bento. Or salmon/tuna salad in a silicone cup. Corn & Quinoa salad. I haven't been making bentos long, so my list isn't very long, but you get the idea.

I agree with the poster above that said just use smaller version of your non-japanese meals.
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Re: Non japanese bento friendly meals.

Postby arkonitebabe » Sun Oct 18, 2009 1:50 pm

Not many of my bento are traditional! I mostly use western foods or leftovers from the night before.
Have a look at my blog for ideas ;)
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Re: Non japanese bento friendly meals.

Postby elenacala » Sun Nov 01, 2009 7:31 pm

Just make minis of the things you eat regularly. A muffin tin could be your best frind for making mini meat loaves, you could use silicone baking cups to put together mini enchalada casseroles, like someoen above said mini quiches. I make sandwhiches for my hubbys bento and cut them into 4 squares or use a sandwhich cutter for shapes, you can use silicone baking cups ot layer in deserts to keep it seperate from the rest of your food, or make hawaiian haystacks (if you can get normal rice). Maybe jsut take skewers cut them in half and make your self some sort of satay or kabobs with meats and veggies or make it asian with a teriaki sauce. Make yourself fresh fruit and cheese kabobs. The best part aobut bento is it makes you get creative as to what you put into it, and how you put it in, b/c it does take a creative genuis to make it all fit in nice and snug. I know thats part of why I love it.
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Re: Non japanese bento friendly meals.

Postby pauline » Mon Nov 02, 2009 9:54 am

I just bought a box of appetizers at the grocery store (ie mini egg rolls, mini cheese puffs etc) and I'm planning on packing my bento with some of those this week. So that's an easy alternative to Japanese/Asian bento ingredients.
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