Great Bento Idea: Ochazuke bento from Not Another Brown Bag Lunch

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This week’s great bento idea from the bento community at large is from Mils of Not Another Brown Bag Lunch - it’s an ochazuke bento!

What is an ochazuke? As I explained some years ago, ochazuke is basically rice with various savory bits on it, over which hot green tea is poured. You mix up the rice, tea and bits, and slurp. Ochazuke is often served as the last course in a formal meal, or eaten simply as a quick late-night snack. It’s a great way to use up leftover rice for one thing.

Making part of your bento into an ochazuke is a great idea, especially when the weather turns cooler. All you need is access to some boiling water. You can use an instant ochazuke packet as Mils has done - you can buy them at Japanese grocery stores (general Asian stores may not have them). Or, you can make your own ochazuke. Just pack some rice or other grain (Mils used some pretty cherry colored rice, but plain rice is fine and is what’s usually used), with some homamade furikake (the salmon flakes work especially well), or even just a plain umeboshi pickled plum. Make sure that your rice container has enough space in it to add the hot tea, or use a bento box with a built-in bowl like the one we gave away a couple of weeks ago. Add some shredded nori seaweed, crushed rice crackers for crunch and so on, and pack along a green tea bag. Make some tea at lunchtime and pour it over your rice. It may sound weird to pour tea over rice, but it’s really good, I promise. The best tasting ochazuke is a bit salty or sour, and has a mix of textures - crunchy from the rice crackers (the tiny balls you see in commercial ochazuke packets are called arare, and are little rice crackers), nori, and so on.

Since rice with bits on its own is not very well rounded nutritionally, Mils has packed the rest of her bento with all kinds of tasty things. Read all about it on her blog.

Look out for another Great Bento Idea next week!

(If you want your idea to catch my eye by the way, the best way is to join the Just Bento or Just Bento Bento Gear groups on Flickr and post them there. Don’t forget to post a link to your blog in the description if you have one.)

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And visit our sister site, Just Hungry for great Japanese home recipes and more.

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Re: Great Bento Idea: Ochazuke bento from Not Another Brown ...

I love Ochazuke! This is a great bento idea. Thanks for sharing.

Re: Great Bento Idea: Ochazuke bento from Not Another Brown ...

love it too... altho i go a bit crazy and dunk stuff in it like surimi and broccoli or other veg things... not sure if it still is a Ochazuke then :-D

Re: Great Bento Idea: Ochazuke bento from Not Another Brown ...

Can you add anything to ochakuze? Because I'm not a big fan of nori or umeboshi. Furikake is okay is it's not fish based...

Re: Great Bento Idea: Ochazuke bento from Not Another Brown ...

Love both of your sites! I've started eating my own cooking a lot more because of you.

Question about the ochazuke in general, not just the bento version: my rice crackers went soggy in the tea - am I supposed to use special japanese ones, or am I just Doing It Wrong?

Re: Great Bento Idea: Ochazuke bento from Not Another Brown ...

They do turn soggy - if you'd rather have crisp ones, just add them a little at a time as you eat your ochazuke!

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