Soboro Bento そぼろ弁当

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Soboro Bento Recipe | JustOneCookbook.comA lot of readers have asked for tips on bento making.  Since I have been making bento for just 2 months, I’m not nearly an expert.  However, I have one trick that my mom taught me which I think is helpful when you prepare a meal or even bento.  That’s to work with colors.  I’m going to explain the concept with my favorite Soboro Bento today.

Soboro is usually made with ground chicken seasoned with the slightly sweet soy sauce flavor.  This dish is commonly served on top of steamed rice.  Sometimes the bowl contains rice and soboro, but the brown color becomes overwhelming.  To pretty up the dish, this dish often garnished with scrambled egg and some sort of green vegetables like green peas, snow peas, spinach, and etc.

Now on to the topic of colors and food.  The Japanese tries to have multiple colors when we serve food.  Before bringing dishes to the dinner table, my mom would always look at the plate and say “oh it’s missing this and that color” and search in the refrigerator for ingredients to add.  If it was missing red, she would grab a tomato and add to the plate.  It’s amazing how just one small thing would make a meal prettier.

A meal with various colors also help increase your appetite.  Imagine if this bento only has brown food.  The food is delicious but when it is lay out nicely and colorfully, your eyes and tummy receive positive feeling.

Lastly, colorful ingredients mean different kinds of nutrition and it’s a great trick to add extra nutrition in the meal.

If you look at today’s bento, it’s really simple; nothing fancy, and it didn’t take me more than 15 minutes to prepare it.  Try to think of some ingredients that add colors in your bento, with colorful fruits or vegetables, just like how I did.

However sometimes you have no luck.  No tomatoes for red color, no broccoli or lettuce for green color… in that case, use colorful bento accessories such as a separator, tooth picks, liners… there are so many accessories available for you to use which can add some color.  You can find some of the things at a store like Daiso or Amazon.

This tip is very basic, but having this tip in your mind while making bento definitely helps to create better bento.  As you see, I don’t make fancy character bento that requires more skill; however, I’d be happy if I could cheer up my son with some colorful bento during his lunch.

Previous Dinner was:

Soboro Don | Just One Cookbook.com Lunch Next Day:

Soboro Bento | Just One Cookbook.com

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Soboro Bento
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 1 Bento
Ingredients
  • Japanese rice
  • Soboro
  • Lettuce for garnish
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries
Instructions
  1. Fill up half of bento box with Japanese rice. Let it cool so that hot/warm rice will not warm up other cool food.*
  2. Reheat leftover soboro in a frying pan until it's warm thoroughly.
  3. Wash lettuce and pat dry. Place nicely in the bento box.
  4. Place ground chicken, egg, and green peas on top of rice.
  5. Pack peaches and strawberries in an open space in the bento box.
  6. Cool down completely before close the bento box cover.
Notes
[Please read FOOD SAFETY TIPS .]

If you are using a thermal bento box like Thermos, you do not need to cool down before closing lunch box.

This lunch is for my 6-year-old son.


Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.

 

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  1. Good! Today I am the first one to leave a comment-)) Very simple and very beautiful bento! You are right, the colors are making a big different. I bet it’s delicious also. Thank you dear Nami for sharing this with us!

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  2. Nami this is fabulous. I would love to have a bento like this and I’m not even a munchkin. Love the idea of playing with colour to get the right look. This is not only gorgeous but I bet it tastes amazing.

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  3. Amie

    I totally agree with the color theory you mentioned — reminds me of a book I loved called “washoku”和食, which talked about how maintaining 5 color in every meal not only can boost your appetite but also indicate how well balance the meal is. The 5 color are green, yellow, red, white(usually rice), black(kelp/dark brown food)–I find it very interesting that in western societies rarely have the color black food though :) Thank you for the recipe and the bento definitely has 5 color!

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    • Hi Amie! Thank you for bring the book to my attention. I didn’t know this book, and it looks very interesting! I also realized after checking on Amazon that I’ve seen the cover of other books written by the same author.

      In case someone is interested (I’d like to get a copy!), here’s the book: http://www.amazon.com/Washoku-Recipes-Japanese-Home-Kitchen/dp/1580085199

      As for the 5 color, my mom follows the same rule, although I wasn’t sure if she actually mentioned “5” colors, but the concept is same. She would go from red, green, yellow…. to see if our menu has all the colors before we sit down to eat. She just does it naturally and I pick up that habit. I always glance the menu we’re having to make sure we have enough colors.

      I think we do this practice almost “unconsciously” at the daily level that I didn’t even realize that was actually a great tip to make good looking bento. I just came to realize the other day.

      So it’s nice to know someone actually writes about our food custom. Thank you so much for writing, and I’m definitely interested in reading. :)

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  4. Kimmi

    That soboro bento looks delicious! It’s making me hungry, and I just ate dinner. =) I also like how you pack fruit in your bento! Those peaches and strawberries look so tempting.

    My mother also includes lots of colors when she cooks, especially when she makes fried rice. She got into a habit of adding Craisins and pickled cucumbers for the color, and the flavor is actually very yummy.

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    • For 6 years old, there won’t be “enough” fruits, and it’s really great as they have great color to brighten up. And not to mention they take “good” space so I don’t have to think of many ingredients for bento… Heheheh.

      Your mom’s fried rice looks yummy!! And it’s wonderful as you can put veggies and meats in one dish. :)

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  5. Candice

    You’re right, Nami! The different colored foods does make a difference. Thank you for sharing these helpful bento box making tips.

    Do you have a recipe for the soboro?

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  6. I often lunch on leftovers from dinner the night before. But believe me, mine never look as adorable and creative as this. LOL I marvel at the care and attention you put into your lovely bentos.

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  7. Eri

    Beautiful just like all of your bentos. I want to find this container, next time I see it, I will grab it!
    hugs and Kisses Nami, have a wonderful weekend my friend!

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  8. This is adorable! The ponytails would love it. Your mom was so right . . . adding a range of colours makes this so appealing and pretty — and of course helps to diversify the nutritional composition as you’ve stated. So simple, yet so delicious!

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  9. Love that line of peas in today’s bento! Not only great color, but great design. And speaking of color, interesting idea. It certainly makes sense that the more something appeals to our senses, the more we enjoy it. Another great bento – thanks.

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  10. jhiselle

    my first time coming to your website, LOVE it! some of my fav foods are on here . im heading to the store right now to buy an icecream maker:)

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    • Hi Jhiselle! I’m glad you found my blog. Are some of your favorite foods ice cream? 😀 I hope you will enjoy the recipes! Thanks for writing! :)

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  11. Nami, you are such a skilled home cook / Mommy! Want to hear something funny / interesting? I went to my child’s play school today, and there was a Japanese mom with her daughter (who must be half white). She had this (soboro) in her bento lunch box! She used baby carrots and cut green beans to pretty it up! I’m now craving for soboro!!!

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  12. Nami, I cannot decide what looks more beautiful: the soboro don or soboro bento… Both are gorgeous, look delicious and the colours make them even more extraordinary! It’s incredible that the Japanese look also at the aesthetic aspect of the food they serve. In European traditional home cooking no one pays attention to this unless there is a party.

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  13. I love this soboro bento. You’re exactly right… it’s the colors that make it so exciting to the eye. I love that row of peas bordering the soboro from the egg. Wonderful tip for not only bento making.. but food styling too. :) Have a wonderful weekend my friend. ~ Ramona

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  14. The multicolors also coincide with the health and nutrition notion of eating a rainbow. Nice :)

    I don’t believe you are just 2 months into making bento cos’ your bento look so pretty and appetizing.

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  15. Nami, I would love to be your kids and open my lunch box each day to find a new surprise of wonderful food so pretty and delicious, I’m sure the other kids are jealous!

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  16. Every time I see one of your son’s lunches I’m transported to the school where the teacher and the other kids must wait to see what he’s got for lunch! This is so cool. I must have ben a really crap mother because school lunches were never this elegant. I was lucky to get something in the bag before we all left the house. :)

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  17. What a delightful and pretty little bento box! I know what you mean about adding color to your food. When we visited Tokyo, I found the artistry in all the food truly exceptional. The packaging was amazing. I was mesmerized for hours just watching the food being prepared in the basement food stores at Matsuzakaya department store on Ginza st. Wherever we went, every ingredient was carefully measured and put together like a masterpiece. What a beautiful culture and country you have, Nami! Thanks for the blog-visit today. So kind of you. Happy weekend :-)

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  18. Nami you are so right, I love all the colors! I absolutely love your attention to details, who would not want to eat that bento as soon as they open up the lid!

    My Mom usually makes a bunch of dishes on the Sundays we visit, she would advice me to place different dishes next to each other in a certain way, like 1 vegi then 1 meat dish, they need to intermingle so the colors would be more interesting for our eyes, which makes the food taste better.

    I am waiting on the floor people to come in, they are suppose to start putting in the laminate wood, which covers the entrance, living and hall areas. Monday is suppose to be carpet, oh you have no idea how long I have been waiting for this day!!!

    Have a great weekend! We are taking Trini and her little friends to habachi (9th birthday). The weather has cooled down, and it’s suppose to be in the 70-mid 80 the whole weekend, yay!

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  19. Such a good tip! I think eating more colors at every meal is a sure way to guarantee better nutrition! This soboro bento looks heavenly. Thank you for sharing. What a delicious end to my week! I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

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  20. I was thinking of bento this afternoon and thinking when I had it last. Thanks for the second reminder:) I heard that Koreans prefer to have 7 colors in a dish – for nutrition reasons. Its quite an interesting approach but I guess the Americans will try to do it using food coloring:) Have a nice weekend

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  21. What a great lunch for your son once again! It all looks so good and the soboro I have to try. You are so right color is a big factory in appetite. I remember dinners as a child of bland looking pork, can yellow beans and potatoes. not appetizing.

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  22. Nami san, what a pretty bento you made! My grandma used to make for us all the time when we were kids and I still cook for my family to date. I think Soboro is a comfort dish and so timeless in Japanese cuisine. Nice work!

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  23. Happy Friday! My boys would be delighted to have this bento instead of my so-so sandwich. I don’t know how you find time to do all that? Super nice looking as usual. ごくろうさまでした。楽しい週末を過ごしてください。

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  24. You are right Nami, the colors made the food look better and of course, everybody will like to eat it. The important thing is have our kids eat their meals, so we have to make whatever is needed for that.

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  25. The soboro looks really good… I’m bookmarking it! I agree with you on color and nutrition — kids’ most popular food in this country seems to be chicken fingers and fries, or mac and cheese. At least my friends’ kids. Beige food, no nutrition. I’ve gotten hungry just looking at this.

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  26. Eha

    As one lifelong interested not only in the delicious [!] but also the nutrient, I loved Amie’s post – actually colour is the easiest way to ‘tell’ whether a given meal is nutritious and health conditions preventative! I would count red, yellow, orange, green of at least two shades and purple [instead of the hard to reach black][think of aubergines, grapes etc!] and well and truly try to avoid anything white [usually HGI, HGL!]! Much easier than learning off which constituent is meant to do what at which stage!!!! Oh, loved the bento: but that is almost a given 😀 !

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  27. Great tip Nami!! That’s so true! I love it when my meal is super colourful. Makes me feel like I’m getting all the nutrition I need! Just 2 months Nami? You already seem like an expert! I wish I could some day try your bento!! :)

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  28. I was watching a show of a Japanese chef a couple of years ago and one thing he said stuck with me. He said he always plate with at least five different colors of food. I try to keep that in mind, but have found that it’s not so easy. You do a great job with it and this bento box is an example of that. I could eat this for lunch every day!

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  29. Lovely bento. It’s true that a lot of us eat with our eyes nowadays. Even the young kids, when something looks more attractive, they are also more attracted to eat it all.

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  30. Pretty bento and I like your tips about color to round out a presentation, plus the dish itself sounds tasty. I have to admit that I don’t pay much attention to the way I serve my dishes when I know they won’t be photographed for the blog-but when I do, my husband gets the styled plate (if it’s still warm). :) I would never have guessed that you’re new to creating bentos. :)

    Was thinking of visiting Daiso for the first time today–I’m hoping they have black plates and bowls to match my board. Enjoy your Saturday, Nami. :)

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  31. I would have not guessed that it’s your second month. You look like you’ve been packing bento boxes for years. Lucky son you have. I am afraid I lack the artsy touch preparing the lunches of my kids years ago. Have a great weekend.
    Malou

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  32. You know, it occurs to me reading this post that bento is not only extraordinarily healthy it is also a genuine work of art. I love your mom’s philosophy of reaching for the greatest amount and diversity of colour as possible. That is also what we teach in nutrition: eat the rainbow!

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  33. I agree…color makes a world of difference in the appeal of a plate (or bento). My mom was the same…she would never serve us a plate of all brown/beige food. Your bento is beautiful! Thanks for all the tips :)

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  34. Ira Rodrigues

    Thank you for the tips you share, I tried to make bento for my little man and he was very interesting with the food that so colorful *veggie and fruits hihi, thank you thank you…

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  35. Your bentos are absolutely stunning (as always!). And I totally get the whole multiple colors makes the meals prettier. I came across several studies during grad school how children increased their intake of fruits and veggies because of the gorgeous array of colors!

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  36. Bet your son enjoyed his lunch with this beautiful bento! I have not made bento before but have always admired them for their colorful ingredients and especially those shaped into cute animal characters and flowers!

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  37. Our moms share the most valuable tips, don’t they? One of the main cooking advices that my mom taught me was to keep three elements in mind: color/ appearance, fragrance & flavor. These attributes will help to create the balance in a dish. Something that I will always incorporate when I cook. One great thing about Japanese cooking (in my opinion) is it really brings these attributes to even a higher level as there’s always emphasis on precision and presentation. These are shown in each of the recipe you share here too.

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  38. Your bentos are always so pretty! Yes, love the assorted colors that you used. Makes it so appealing…hm…it’s like open up the lunch box and see a rainbow inside. :) That would certainly put a smile on any kid’s face.

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  39. Your 6 year old is going to be very happy when he opens his bento for lunch. Love the colors. Do all the moms at school compete for the cutest bento lunches? It is hard to be creative every day making fun and new things for their bentos. Thanks for the ideas. Take care, BAM

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  40. Nami, one of my daughters is standing next to me and pointing at your very colorful and pretty bento for today and is aking me whether she can PLEASE take THAT bento box to school tomorrow…she loves the way it looks so very appetizing and your wonderful explanations about the different color are therefore right on point – the more natural “colors”, the more appetizing it is. You did a truly terrific job (again) with this post! And you get a big fat hug from my 6 year old from pretty far away but really from the heart (she said that)!

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    • Andrea, what a sweet comment! Thank you so much. Please send my big fat hugs back to your sweet little daughter. I have a 6 year old too – wish we’re neighbors so kids can play and we can cook and talk! :)

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  41. This is so lovely! I’m so inspired to make something like this for my children. They are very picky eaters (and this makes me sad sometimes because I love to eat) but perhaps the colours will help increase the visual appeal. I’ll likely end up making one for myself. Healthy and fabulous! I enjoyed this post very much, Nami!

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  42. They say “you eat with your eyes”, Nami. This has visual impact indeed. I love the whole idea and variety of bento and look forward to each post in this series. What a lucky little boy your son is to have such interesting lunches to look forward to.

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  43. Your soboro looks so tasty! Lovely bento. I like the eggs with this…I made a soboro bento but made it with rice! I want to try this. :)

    That’s one of the best thing about bento making is the colors. I like how you sneaked the peas in and they look great too! I usually have arugula and cherry tomatos on hand to add those touches of coulors in my bentos…carrots always work well too. It does seem funny though food shoppy by color! 😀 My daughter lover her rice with furikake, so that’s a fun way to jazz it up!

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  44. I love using tons of colors in dishes and try to but sometimes I definitely struggle to try to incorporate it all. Maybe it’s because Western portions tend to be bigger (even though I portion our food so it’s reasonable)? That soboro sounds and definitely looks tasty with the other colors as a backdrop.

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  45. Color does make a difference, When I saw this on google that’s why I said I want to reverse my years and go back to elementary school. You are changing your hosting service and I still cannot decide of migrating.

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  46. Colors really makes a big difference on food presentation — no matter what type of food and you are really good at this, Nami. I really like you making bento as it looks different each time.

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  47. Very cute. I love the idea of following the colors! I need to start preparing my lunches this way. Color definitely makes you add more vegetables.

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  48. Beautiful bento Nami…I wish someone would make me bento :)
    Oh! I love Daiso…and can spend hours and hours just browsing through the stores…
    Thanks for this awesome bento and hope your transition goes well.

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  49. Hi Nami!
    I love the flavors, colors and design that goes into the making of your clever and unique Bentos- I see a cookbook on this very subject in your future;-)

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