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Simple Menus for the Bento Box Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 158 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Co; illustrated edition edition (August 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688142044
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688142049
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 8.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,504,132 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A bento box is a lacquered square divided into four equal compartments. Japanese cooks use the bento box for serving carefully orchestrated, beautifully arranged meals composed of four dishes. While Ellen Greaves and Wayne Nish designed their 12 seasonal menus to be offered in the elegant setting of bento boxes, the food is still remarkable served conventionally, so do not let the idea of using an authentic presentation keep you from enjoying their book. As long as you present the four dishes in a menu simultaneously, the choreography of flavors, textures, and colors will come through. Equally important, the recipes really are simple and easy, and most require familiar ingredients. The fall menu of Arugula Salad with Parmesan and Pickled Shiitake Mushrooms; Ratatouille; Pasta with Raw Tomatoes; and Poached Shrimp with Beans, Celery, and Saffron proves the point. It also shows the heavy Mediterranean influence in Greaves's and Nish's fusion cooking. Short-grain Japanese rice is probably the only Asian ingredient you'll have to pursue. Perhaps the one caution is that high-quality ingredients are essential for optimal success in this kind of minimalist cooking. If this is a problem, you can always feast your eyes on the exquisite pictures in this slim volume. They may even inspire you to contact the mail-order sources provided so you can collect some of the tableware lovingly photographed by Nish. --Dana Jacobi

From Publishers Weekly

The Japanese shokado bento (boxed meal) is a gustatory treasure chest: open the lid and discover a meal of four highly flavored, complementary dishes, artfully arranged. New York City chefs Ellen Greaves, of Takashimaya's Tea Box Cafe, and Wayne Nish, from the restaurant March, have collaborated on a truly unusual cookbook, managing to focus closely on presentation while keeping flavor and ingredients of primary importance. Each of the 12 seasonal menus features four mostly American dishes of about half the usual entree size, with no designated first course, main or side dishes. The winter dinner pictured on the cover, for instance, includes sauteed Spinach with Sesame Seeds, a pyramid of tiny Grilled Ham and Cheese Sandwiches, triangles of Herb-steamed Swordfish, and Roasted Red Pepper and Sun-dried Tomato Soup. Most of the 48 recipes can be prepared ahead, leaving time for the all-important assembly and presentation. Over 75 color photographs (taken by Nish) illustrate the effect of attentive composing: chives and creme fraiche stripe Sweet and Snow Pea Soup; the sticky rice in Japanese Rice with Salted Peanuts and Scallions is pressed into a flower shape. Instructions are straightforward and will please any home cook who relishes the processes of cooking and plating. While the authors provide a source list for boxes themselves and suitable serving plates and cups, recipes for such dishes as Lobster on Leeks with Fennel and Carrot to Arborio Rice with Goat Cheese and Tomato can also be served on conventional dinner plates.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 41 people found the following review helpful By pleomorphic on May 17, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Although I agree with the other reviewers in that this is indeed a beautifully photographed and organized book, (for which I give it the four stars), I wasn't aware until I purchased it that this is not a Japanese recipe book-its Western cuisine presented in an aesthetically Asian manner. However, it does give a good history of bento boxes and the recipes are simple and delicious. If you are looking for authentic Japanese bento recipes, I recommend _Japanese Meals on the Go: Bento Boxes_ by Naomi Kijima.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 23, 1998
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What a wonderful cookbook. The recipes are simple and relatively quick to prepare. The artful photography, so excellently done by Wayne Nish, makes it easy for the user to duplicate the elegent presentation. Whether a romantic dinner for two or intimate dinner for four, use this cookbook for those special occassions. If you're a novice, try this one out when preparing for that special someone. Cooking such beautiful and delicious food doesn't get more easy than this! It is sure to impress.
Suggestion to the authors, next time add a few helpful hints along the way. The soft-shell crab batter was a little watery to really create the crisp batter. Adding ingredients slowly (club soda) with the instruction on the correct consistency would have been helpful.
By the way, leave it out on the coffee table. It is beautiful to look through and you won't forget how simple and fun it is to use!
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Nikki Douglas on January 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bah. This isn't authentic bento fare. It's a foodie interpretation. And these are not even REAL bento boxes. You can't take a bento box with you that has a bowl of soup in it and stuff on a leaf. I mean, really. It's all so - look at us we are chef-ies making bento better than the Japanese!

Pretty pictures though for the most part but I am not about to make Grilled Quail or Rack of Lamb for my bento. Kind of defeats the whole idea of SIMPLE.

These recipes are actually NOT simple in any way. Simple to me would be Chicken Teriyaki, Fried rice and Japanese pickles.

Get the REAL bento box cookbook by an actual Japanese chef - Bento Boxes: Japanese Meals on the Go by Naomi Kijima. That's my bento bible!
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