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Posted on May 29, 2008 | 16 comments

Japanese fried chicken bento lunch

Japanese fried chicken bento lunch

Karaage is the addictive Japanese version of fried chicken that’s marinated in garlic, ginger and soy sauce — very light and crispy. Because it’s well spiced, it’s a bento classic that holds up well even when eaten at room temperature.

Kara-age and squid bento lunch for preschooler

Contents of preschooler bento lunch: Strawberry, blackberries, kiwifruit, apricot, grilled squid, and Japanese ginger fried chicken (karaage). Can you tell that I’d just gone to the produce market?

Krups FBC512 convection toaster ovenMorning prep time: 7 minutes, using leftover squid and chicken from a restaurant meal (Sapoten in San Francisco, a nice little izakaya-style restaurant with a yakitori menu). In the morning I popped the chicken into my convection toaster oven to quickly crisp up the outside a bit, and cut the fruit. (Read on for packing details and an additional preschooler lunch.)

Reusable plastic food cupsInsulated Shinkansen lunch bagPacking: I put the chicken in a reusable silicone baking cup to keep it away from the squid, and the delicate blackberries went into a hard plastic reusable food cup from Daiso discount store (branches worldwide) to keep them from getting bruised and smushed in transit. I threw in a couple of little Anpanman food picks as fork substitutes for little hands. To keep the fruit cool and fresh until lunch, I included little ice packs cut from a flexible ice blanket in Bug’s insulated Shinkansen lunch bag.

Verdict: Pretty good. Despite having specifically asked for the squid when I was packing his lunch in the morning, Bug only ate a little of it at preschool. He also left the blackberries, having decided he doesn’t like them after all. He did eat the rest of the squid after school as a snack, but had zero interest in the berries.

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Mini quiche bento lunch for preschooler

Contents of preschooler bento lunch: Mini quiches from Costco (Lorraine: swiss cheese and bacon, and Florentine: swiss cheese and spinach), peeled apple slices, and red seedless grapes.

Morning prep time: 18 minutes, mostly inactive prep time waiting for the frozen mini quiches to cook in my convection toaster oven. In the morning I popped the quiches in the toaster oven, sliced the apple, and used kitchen scissors to cut of a little cluster of grapes.

Lunch dividers organizedPacking: To avoid having the phyllo crusts on the mini quiches go soggy on me, I let them cool on a mini cooling rack for a few minutes before packing them in the bento box. To prevent the apple slices from browning, I dipped them in a combination of lemon juice and apple-peach juice (minimizing the tang from the lemon), then patted off the excess moisture with a paper towel. I used a plastic food divider (baran) to keep the moist apples away from the crispy quiches. The food dividers are meant to be disposable, but I wash and reuse them, and store them in a little plastic organizer box I picked up at Ichiban Kan. The lunch is packed in a 360ml Disney Cars bento box with both subcontainers removed to accommodate the line of mini quiches.

Verdict: Sometimes simple is best. Bug ate everything at preschool, and happily told me that he liked being able to finish his whole bento.
Small food dividers for bento lunches (

FURTHER READING:

16 Comments

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  1. Karaage is my favorite thing to make! :D I use a spicy mix I buy at Mitsuwa, though.

  2. This is so yummy looking. I know Bug is not even close to a picky eater so not eating blackberries. Perhaps when he gets older? ;o)

  3. @1 from Adan: I had a Japanese boyfriend once who liked to use the mix, as I recall. I had no complaints, especially as he’d do the cooking when he had a specific craving!

  4. @2 from Mimi: I’m not too worried about the blackberry thing. Honestly, Bug is so impressionable that it’d probably just take watching one of his friends eating them to get him to change his mind.

  5. Unfortunately we rent so I can’t put up things like that on our walls and such. But I love the idea and your organization skills! I would love to get one of those little boxes you have from the dollar Japanese store, but all of the Japanese stores here in Cairns only sell ‘tourist-y’ type stuff, nothing like bentos or anything. Everything I have I had to order online, most of what I have from J-List.

  6. Ironically, I eat kiwis, strawberries, blackberries, AND apricots (among other produce) EVERY SINGLE DAY (since they’re at their peak right now) – so I’m loving those components of the lunch bento box :0)

  7. the apricots have just been gorgeous this year – I can’t get enough!

  8. Hi, Biggie.
    Karaage is one of the my son’s favorite okazu at Bento time.
    I soaked chiken in soysauce, Sake and jinger, garlic. Before fried them, put mayonnaise and egg mixture in it. it taste good eaten cold!
    At my son’s kindergarden, they grow a blackberry. Any time they want eat blackberries. like ” kechup and mustard are over there.” “Dessert is over there.”

  9. That looks like the fried chicken I make at home a lot. I’m going to try some of the recipes for the karaage at home I see in the comments section! It looks like a good meal I can marinate over night and while I’m at work all day!

  10. I am so happy I stumbled upon your site!! My son is going to Kindergarten in the fall, so I will be needing help with lunch. I have never made a bento lunch b4, but with all your wonderful ideas, tips, pics, list & more I will be able to learn =) Your photos are awesome!

  11. >Kellie you should really check out Ichiban Kan to get a good price on bento gear. I haven’t seen cheaper egg molds anywhere yet! :) Good luck with your son. I hope he enjoys school.

  12. I just have to ask, that green cup holding the karaage, is that made of plastic and washable? Or is that a pack of green cupcake holders?

  13. @13 from Lorna: The green cup holding the karaage is a reusable silicone baking cup — definitely washable as I throw it in the dishwasher all the time. If there’s baked-on gunk on it a quick soak loosens it.

  14. That chicken looks great. I’m going to try it tonight. Thanks!

  15. Hi Biggie, another nice bento, how lucky is your son!