Noriben Bento Made From SeaweedKatachiware Japanese Style Tableware
Noriben Bento is a traditional bento meal made from seaweed, the name comes from nori (Japanese name for edible seaweed) and bento put together.
Bento which is an inherent part of Japanese culture has caught up with the rest of the world and become a convenient and healthy option for serving dinner at home, lunches on the go or to entertain guests.
Bento can be made at home or bought from convenience stores, dates back from the Kamakura era’s times. It is a portion-controlled meal arranged neatly and comprising of many healthy ingredients.
There are endless possibilities towards preparing your bento, and one of them is the ‘nori’ or seaweed bento. This is a bento with a major ingredient in the form of nori referred to as a vegetable from the sea that comprises specific marine algae-like rockweed, kelp, laver and gulfweed.
High on vitamin C and beta carotene nori is used in many bento preparations in Japan. The taste of fresh algae is akin to salty greens, but it’s just the salty taste that lingers in the mouth when dried. Several seaweed varieties such as nori are used as a sushi wrap while ‘kombu’ or the giant sea kelp goes into making stocks and broths and enclosing dried fish. Others are used to lend a taste to some of the rice dishes or while sautéing. Some use is made of seaweed in western countries called the ‘Irish moss’ for solidifying cottage cheese, salad oils, etc.
One of the basic dishes made from seaweed in Japan is Noriben Bento, normally of three ingredients: nori seaweed, rice, soy sauce, and dried bonito flakes. High on taste and low on costs, this dish comes of use when you have run out of ideas for your bento or low on ingredients in the house.
For balancing the meal, alongside Noriben Bento, you can carry less salty dishes in your bento like steamed veggies, fried tofu, chicken or a grilled fish piece. If you like the taste of seaweed, then you are bound to love this simple food preparation. It involves arranging a layer of cooked brown or white rice first in your bento box and then topping it with a nori sheet evenly. You can sprinkle some soy sauce on it and spread another layer of rice and the consecutive layer of nori sheet over it. If you have dried bonito flakes with you, they can be arranged on the rice before spreading the nori sheet and then it is a matter of repeating the process.
In this preparation, you are allowed to shut the lid of your bento box whilst the rice is still a little warm in contrast to the usual manner of closing the box only after the rice has cooled down completely. The rice’s warmth helps the noro moisten a b, making a delicious flavour to the dish. However, do not forget to brush your teeth after you have consumed noriben!
The dish is not very fancy and may not be mentioned in any cookbooks, but it sure is useful as a standby when you have run out of essentials.