Chicken Teriyaki Bento: A Study in Speed


One reaction I get a lot when people find out that I prepare bento on a regular basis is, “Wow. That must take ages.” People seem to think, “It’s a full meal, it must take hours to cook.” The fact is, if you’re prepared, packing a complete, attractive and satisfying lunch can be done in half an hour, tops.

Chicken Teriyaki Bento

August 19, 2008 • Bento #214

Take this bento in particular. It has rice, protein and veggies and it can be prepared in 20 minutes. 10 if you don’t count the time it takes to marinate the chicken.

Moving the chicken fillets from the freezer to the fridge the night before ensures that you have nice, well-defrosted chicken in the morning. An added bonus is that you minimize the risk of getting your chicken contaminated by microorganisms because you defrosted in the fridge. Saving some rice from dinner also helps cut down prep time in the morning. Whenever we have leftover rice, I simply wrap in freezer-safe packaging and freeze so I can quickly microwave them (on high while frozen) in the mornings.

First thing to do when I wake up is (1) make the marinade and dump my chicken in. In this case, I have Chicken Teriyaki. I know the recipe says marinate for 30 minutes but from experience, I know that 15 minutes is good enough.

While the chicken is marinating, I grab a packet of (2) frozen rice, microwave it on high for 2 minutes. While that’s happening, I grab an orange then (3) slice it into wedges, eating some as I go along. After the rice is done, I dump some (4) frozen peas on a platter then microwave on medium for a minute or so, just enough to melt the ice.

Grabbing my bento box, I place the rice, fruit and peas in. Did that take 15 minutes? I’d think not but if it did, it’s now time to (5) cook the teriyaki. It’ll take 5 minutes at most since I’m cooking such a small amount. Then, it’s slice and layer on top of the rice.

20 minutes at most, in 5 easy steps. Magic? Not really. More like being prepared, focused and moving quickly in the mornings. Are you ready to give it a shot?

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12 Responses to Chicken Teriyaki Bento: A Study in Speed

  1. toni says:

    You are the Domestic Bento Goddess. I’m sure what takes you 20 would take me 60! Galing! There’s no escaping the logic here though — it CAN happen in 20! Salamat sa inspirasyon. Malay mo, try ko soon. 😀

  2. Mrs. G says:

    We tried your Patis & Calamansi Fried Chicken Bento. It was so easy to cook. Ate S couldn’t believe at first that I’m asking her to put just patis and calamansi. It turned out great. We all loved it.

    I’m trying your Chicken Teriyaki soon.

  3. Ms.____2 Be! says:

    I like to make this some time.

  4. Kristen says:

    Mmm. I can see making that for my husband in the morning, and then doing the same thing with tofu for my lunch; doing two at the same time probably wouldn’t add that much extra time. Especially since I know where to get pre-marinated teriyaki-flavored tofu at the supermarket . . . although I’ll want to do a comparison of fresh vs. pre-marinated tofu, for taste, I guess.

    Thanks for sharing your tips on speed! Right now the fastest bentos are the one I make from left-overs, and it still takes me a while because I have to (a) dig around in boxes for my bento containers and (b) wash them. (Dreaming of my own house/apartment in another month or two . . . sigh.) The more I learn, the better I can be!

    • Suzanne says:

      Yes, I have this problem too. I cannot decide which bento container to use. I also have a lot of problems when I try to pack soups and/or dips… *sigh* must have own house soon!

  5. Wow that looks sooo good I’m drooling!

    I freeze rice too, when I make sushi rice I’ll make a huge batch and freeze the extra rice for riceballs in my bento. I haven’t done it with plain rice yet, really should start eating more of that again.

    I’ve got a pretty good stash of frozen stuff for my bento since I started freezing leftovers! Those silicone cups are amazing and I don’t know what I ever did without them! Plus we don’t eat whats left in the pan just so there aren’t leftovers the next day lol

  6. Tony Lou says:

    this post reminded me of an article i read about rachel ray’s 30 minute meals (30 mins. nga ba?). anyway, the author tried doing everything in 30 minutes, but she wasn’t able to do it. but she did it in 45 mins (i think that was her fastest time). so i guess, if i do this, there would probably some leeway time until i get the hang of it. :o)

  7. belle says:

    i just love your bento boxes! they are so cute.

    btw, where do you buy your bento boxes?

  8. Krissy says:

    Papaano yung mga huhugasan? hahaha kidding ^^

    Can’t believe you can do that in 30 minutes! I’m such a slow mover…

  9. kaoko says:

    @toni
    Kaya yan! Have faith, most of the time naka-autopilot ako sa morning bento prep e. 😛

    @Mrs. G
    Yay! I’m glad it worked out for you. I think it’s cool that we’re enjoying the same food! 😀

    @Ms.____2 Be!
    I hope you manage to, it’s surprisingly easy.

    @Kristen and Suzanne
    COUNT ME IN! I’m a member of the digging for bento boxes in the morning club. I have big organizer boxes but honestly, my washed and dried boxes seldom make their way back into that big organizer. *facepalm* We should form a support group—I’m sure being organized will save us lots of time.

    @Jaguarrior
    Not to mention freezing leftovers and eating them a couple of days later instead of the next day is more pleasant. It almost feels like you’re eating something new!

    @Tony Lou
    Hehe, understandable. If you have to stop to think about what to do next (Like me when I’m trying out something new) it really will take longer. But I guess it’s a case of practice makes perfect, or in this case, practice makes it faster?

    @belle
    Hi belle! Glad you like them. I mostly source my bento boxes locally (I’m Manila-based) from Japanese 100 yen stores and the like. Sometimes even department stores have them. What I’ve discovered is that it really helps if you keep your eyes peeled—you never realize that certain stores stock them until you’re actively searching.

    @Krissy
    Hehe, hugas na yung box. 😛 I can relate about being a slowpoke in the mornings. I’m barely human until I’ve had my coffee—at WORK! But I guess it’s just a conscious effort to move faster? I’m motivated by the fact that I don’t have money left to buy lunch nor money for transport so I need to move fast to make sure I have my lunch AND I don’t miss my ride 😛

  10. anon says:

    “Moving the chicken fillets from the freezer to the fridge the night before ensures that you have nice, well-defrosted chicken in the morning. An added bonus is that you minimize the risk of getting your chicken contaminated by microorganisms because you defrosted in the fridge.”
    Are you sure that you don’t mean “defrosted at room temperature”? 😛

    • kaoko says:

      Defrosting at room temperature can cause the microorganisms. I meant what I said, you minimize the risk of contamination if you defrost in the fridge. 😀 I guess the phrasing was vague.

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