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Colours In A Bento Box

After my previous post about how to make a visually exciting bento, I have tried to adhere to the principle of 5 colours as much as I could. However, after merely eight bentos, I was reminded of the difference between theory and practice. So I thought maybe I would think aloud a few ideas on how to incorporate the colours in one bento. Yes, if you find yourself with two seperate containers, that's cheating! Two tier bento boxes excluded.

First off, black and white. This shouldn't be that difficult since rice, which is the popular form of carbo for bentos, is white. Sprinkle a few black sesame seeds on a bed of white fluffy rice or mold and wrapped with nori sheets, and you have it! Rocket science? Nope, but here comes the question: "Rice everyday?" Alright for those who choose other forms of carbo, here's another tip: I remember reading somewhere that purple or brown could stand in for black once in a while. So there you go, another two more colours to play around with. More on purple and brown later.

So here's my suggested foods in black and white colours:
~ molded rice wrapped in nori sheets
~ molded rice sprinkled with black sesame seeds
~ rice topped with nori sprinkles (furikake, if that means anything to you)
~ whole hard boiled eggs, molded or otherwise
~ chinese white cabbage, especially the stems

Next up: yellow. This is the one colour that eludes my bentos most of the time. On non-bento days, I would look hard at my takeaways for anything yellow, strictly yellow that I could include in my bento. Mustard on my hamburger? Yellow noodles in my bowl of fishball noodles? Curry? That's it! I don't really like the way it was going. I am not going to pack mustard into my cutesy sauce containers since I am no fan of it. Neither am I of yellow noodles. Curry? No way! Too much liquid to withstand transport. So I am back to the drawing board. The easiest way to fill up on this colour that I have seen so far is either from eggs or yellow bell peppers. Another variant for this colour is orange. More later.

So here's my suggested foods in yellow colours:
~ eggs (cut open hard-boiled or omlette)
~ stir fried yellow bell peppers
~ pan fried firm bean curd
~ cooked pasta
~ fried rice coated with beaten eggs
~ potatoes
~ onions
~ fresh ginger (not the pickled ones)
~ bamboo shoots (if you can handle the smell)
~ lemon slices (to go with deep fried stuff)

And there is red. How often do you find red coloured foods? I would imagine not that often, unless it has tons of preservatives or additives in it. I'm thinking artificially bright red chinese sausages, barbequed pork slices (肉干). But hold the horses! There has to be more than that! Read on.

So here's my suggested foods in red colours:
~ cherry tomatoes
~ radish pickle
~ strawberries
~ red bell peppers
~ red apple slices (skin on, dip in salt water to prevent oxidation)
~ sliced chilies
~ surami
~ raspberries
~ tomato sauce

And lastly, green. Ahh.... this HAS to be the easies right. So I shan't go any further. In case you are really clueless, just blanche some broccoli and tuck it into the box! Or an easy way out, pop a few green grapes as gap fillers.

Okay, let's get to those variant colours. Purple can come in the form of hijiki seaweed or eggplants. Some rice mixes could turn a whole batch of an otherwise boring white rice into purple. Brown is another easy colour if you are a meat lover. Think of all the juicy yakitori sticks and also meatballs that can be made in advance and glazed with special yakitori sauce to revive it before tucking into the bento. Even breaded stuff are considered brown. And there is orange. If you have time to kill, spend some time with your cookie cutters and a few large carrots. Punch out a few shapes and keep them handy. You could also include orange/tangerine segments, tomato wedges, grilled salmon or prawns/shrimps.

But before I forget, if anyone is like me, who is as creative as a robot, there is still hope. There are cutesy plastic and paper seperators to brighten up the box. But be prepared that you might get question such as: "What's up with the cartoons?"

So now it is back to packing my colour challenged bentos.


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