Sugi Bento

The first thing I noticed when I took out the pretty bento box I got from my last trip to Japan was the distinct scent of Japanese cedar wood which is actually cypress wood. A wave of nostalgia came over me since it’s been ages since my last bento and the scent of this wood (sugi) always makes me think of Japanese hot springs, which I love.

As usual it wasn’t planned and there wasn’t a real necessity for it but I just did it to get other things out of my mind. Preparing a bento requires a lot of patience and even concentration since it’s many little steps you have to do, to in the end please the eye and palate. Habits are hard to change and I started as I always did without fully overthinking the concept or ingredients. But in the end it’s always about using up all that tiny space there is by filling it with many different colours, tastes and textures.

Leftovers are obviously very practical for preparing a bento but I didn’t had any except for some pasta (Trofie) which I used to fill up the bottom of the right side before layering it with some vegetables, tofu and other things. This wooden bento box or actually most bento boxes are kind of limited when it comes to space but that’s also the fun and challenge while filling them. Since I don’t care much for dessert, it’s only salty things this time.

The Adidas logo kind of looking thing is often found in autumnal food creations since it resembles Japanese autumn foliage (momiji). As there is the cloudlet food cutter which represents Japanese pine trees for summer or the classic sakura shaped food cutter for spring creations. I’m not sure what stands for winter though… maybe plum flower shaped?

The thing with non-leftover ingredients for bento is that you most likely won’t use up all of the carrot or pepper and tofu but only a small amount of it. I used what was left of the rice, tofu and vegetable to make tasty fried rice (Chaahan) in the evening. I’d never throw away fresh food, so even if the carrot has been punched out, it’s perfectly usable for other dishes where you just have to chop it in small pieces.

Also, if you like wooden bento boxes make sure to use some paper or tin foil between the food and the wood, especially if the food is greasy. I haven’t tried it yet without, but I imagine the wood becoming spotty and oily from the food. And keep you wooden bento box clean! It’s natural material so you have to rinse and let it try very well or it may start to get mouldy.
I’m so happy to have done it. The bento I mean… It may sound cheesy, but it get’s me in an other state of mind since it’s a tiny univers for itself.