Have you packed or received a homemade bento before? Pack this tonkatsu bento for yourself or a special someone for your next outing! Today, we are packing a tonkatsu bento with onigiri (seasoned rice balls), tamagoyaki, and veggies.
Whether it is a store-bought bento or a home-packed bento, bentos are a huge part of Japanese cuisine and are found in many convenience stores, department stores, restaurants, train stations, etc.
Why are bentos so popular? Bentos are usually single-sized meals packed with nutritional value and seasonal ingredients. They are also aesthetically pleasing and the looks can range from classic and sophisticated looks to cute character bentos. In character bentos, food is arranged to look like certain characters such as Hello Kitty, Snoopy, Mickey Mouse, etc.
In Japanese culture, bento is thought to transmit the feelings of the preparer to the receiver through food. For example, bento prepared by a loved one is packed with love and care that is communicated to the receiver upon eating the bento. This is why Japanese mothers spend hours cooking and packing both nutritious and aesthetically pleasing bentos for their children to take to school. Bentos are taken so seriously that oftentimes there are friendly competitions amongst Japanese mothers to see whose child has the best homemade bento.
Some popular bento ingredients include karaage, salted salmon, meatballs, sausage, gyoza, potato salad, pasta salad, and seasonal fruits. The best thing about packing your bento is you can include your favorite ingredients for a hearty and comforting lunch!
1 pork loin
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp flour
Neutral oil for deep frying
3 tbsp Hon Tsuyu
1 tsp mirin
1 tsp sugar
1 cup rice
2 tbsp rice mix
- Tenderize pork
- Season pork with salt and pepper
- Coat pork in flour, egg wash, then panko bread crumbs
- Deep fry in neutral oil on medium heat
- Fry both sides for about 2-3 minutes until golden brown (depending on thickness and size of pork)
- Remove from oil and cut into bite-sized pieces
- Combine egg, soy sauce, mirin, sugar in a mixing bowl (I am using a measuring cup because it is easier to pour)
- On low heat, pour the mixture into a rectangle shaped tamagoyaki pan. If you do not have a tamagoyaki pan, you can use a regular pan
- Once it is half cooked, gather the egg onto one side of the pan
- Pour mixture, lift the cooked egg so the runny egg will steep under the cooked egg. This ensures a smooth transition and gives it the rolled effect
- Once the mixture is half cooked, roll the omelet over to the other side
- Continue this process until the egg mixture is gone
- Make sure to shape and press into a rectangular shape as you continue to build the omelet
- Remove from heat and chill for 10 minutes before slicing
- Slice in ½ in pieces and it is ready to be packed in a bento
- Cook rice
- In hot rice, sprinkle over onigiri mix
- Wet your hands, take a small amount of rice, and shape
- Press firmly and shape in a circular motion
- Place onigiri on one side of the bento box
- Place shredded cabbage on another side
- Place tonkatsu on the cabbage
- Add tamagoyaki
- Add additional veggies
- Use tonkatsu sauce on the tonkatsu
- Place lid
- Bento is ready!