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Old 08-07-2007, 12:15 PM   #1
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Bento

Does anyone here prepare bento boxed lunches for themselves or others?

I've taken to doing it recently, although I still don't have a lot of the supplies I probably should have for such a hobby.

Today I had:
-Rice w/furikake (bonito shavings, in this case)
-Umeboshi (pickled plum)
-Boiled Shrimp
-Microwave Shumai
-Pickled baby corn
-julienned carrot

I packed it all this morning, with everything just on top of the rice in a tupperware, and then ate it all room temperature. One does not normally reheat bento, and it's best to store rice-based bento at room temp so as not to harden the rice with the cold of a fridge.

The pickled ingredients, particularly pickled ginger if available, help to ward off bacteria between preparation time and eating time.


This is my new way of getting a nutririous healthy lunch every day without going out and spending $12-15 in downtown DC.

I should've taken a picture, but I already ate it all. I'll take a picture of the one I make tomorrow morning.

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Old 08-07-2007, 01:03 PM   #2
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I'd say you're probably safe EXCEPT for the Shumai & the boiled shrimp. Neither of these are safe to allow to sit for any length of time at room temp - especially a span like morning to lunchtime.

And while they might be safe on their own, pickled ingredients will not do a thing to "ward off bacteria" from your other ingredients. Where did you hear that?

Again - I think your idea is good, but that your food safety is lacking.
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Old 08-07-2007, 01:17 PM   #3
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Brazen, take a look at this thread started by grumblebee. It might give you some pointers and ideas.
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Old 08-07-2007, 01:20 PM   #4
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Hm.

I heard the "warding" bit from a well-trafficked bento blog, and it seemed to figure as pickled ginger and whatnot is so commonly included in bento and sushi bento.

As for things sitting, I'm hesitant to store a rice-based bento in the fridge all morning as it'll play **** on the texture. In stores, you typically see bento stored in display cases that are mildly cool but nowhere near as cold as a home fridge. People all across Japan take seafood-inclusive bento to work/school every day and store at room temp though...

Maybe some sort of cold pack or somesuch is the answer, as I'm definitely not storing rice in the fridge for 4 hours.

Any ideas?
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Old 08-07-2007, 04:38 PM   #5
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The best solution is to put the rice in a small, seperate container.
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Old 08-07-2007, 04:52 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrazenAmatuer

Maybe some sort of cold pack or somesuch is the answer, as I'm definitely not storing rice in the fridge for 4 hours.
Well you need to weigh the pros and cons. Pro of not using refrigeration is that your rice will retain a nice texture. Con is that you could get so sick you will wish you were dead. For me it would be an easy choice.
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Old 08-07-2007, 04:54 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ironchef
The best solution is to put the rice in a small, seperate container.
I've actually seen these Zojirushi contraptions now that are like a stacked thermos that keep things hot. Piping hot Miso soup in the bottom (sealed), slightly less hot rice (and whatever else) on the next level, and then the top 2 levels are kept just above room temperature for pickled veggies and your other okaze.

That might be the best solution.


GB: I'd sooner just not make/eat the ****ed thing than settle with the rice being imperfect.

What gets me is that people make and eat these EVERY day in Japan and have for hundreds of years, seafood included, and it isn't recognized as any sort of major issue there. Maybe because much of the seafood is heavily salted?
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Old 08-07-2007, 05:11 PM   #8
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When I was growing up, I would always take bentos on field trips, to school, etc. It was always at room temp. (keep in mind that room temp in Hawaii is pretty **** hot) for more than four hours and I never got sick. My parents were just homecooks and didn't know about the time and temperature rules (I don't think it was preached about as much back then in the 80's either) and I never knew about it since I was just in elementary school. Going through culinary school, proper sanitation and food handling was drilled into my mind and I'm a freak about that now. Going by what I learned, it shouldn't be done and I would never do it in the restaurant due to liability.

However, IMO, much like the low gas indicator in your car, food safety restrictions are written with a fairly large window in mind for their specific reasons. While I would never eat or save food that was accidentally left out over night, certain foods that was made in the morning, as long as it was prepped in a sanitary manner, stored in clean containers, and fully cooked should be fine to eat by lunchtime, provided that it was not subjected to temperature abuse.
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Old 08-08-2007, 01:31 AM   #9
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cold rice...

Just nuke the rice, covered, with a tiny bit of water. It will come back to just cooked consistency.
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Old 08-08-2007, 07:42 AM   #10
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I think I'm just going to go with the Bento thermos thing, seems to simplify everything from a temperature standpoint. Of course, if I just do rice and veggies or a heavily salted protein, I'll just take a normal bento box, as that stuff can sit without too much problem at room temp, particularly if the rice is sushi rice (i.e. vinegared).
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