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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Just Bento - Makiko Itoh

Just Bento by Makiko Itoh is a great cookbook to get you started on making Japanese style lunches.

There are many reasons people want to start eating Japanese style lunch, which can range from wanting to cut calories to just wanting to do something different.

Itoh presents tons of simple single serve dishes that use fresh and flavorful ingredients. Since she lives in America herself, Itoh understands the difficulty in getting a hold of traditional Japanese flavors. While for some of these she lists substitutes, such as for teriyaki sauce, she mostly simply uses regularly available ingredients in the states.

I like the fact that the recipes are organized as meals, meaning that an entree will be listed with side dishes that have complementary flavors. Itoh makes it even easier by providing an approximate timeline for preparing each of these delicious meals. I can attest to the fact that, as the author says, these dishes are delicious both warm or cold.

It's not just Japanese flavors available in this book, though. There is a section containing recipes for foods like meatballs, sandwiches, and salads.

If you want to start doing bento and can't find one of the Japanese style lunch boxes, you have other options. Although it's fun to use the cute or stylized containers, you can always use regular plastic containers (like Tupperware) to store your meals. And you can even customize these by adding stickers or decorating them with permanent marker.

The author's websites:
justhungry.com
justbento.com

Recommended Reading:
Small Batch Baking by Debby Maugans Nakos
Cooking for One or Two by Heidi Reuter Lloyd
Healthy Cooking for Two (or just you) by Frances Price

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