half of the fun of packing a bento is using fun accessories to give the lunch color and character. the most important accessories are furoshiki, dividers, paper cups, foil cups, and sauce bottles. there are lots of other accessories on the market, including onigiri shapers, chopstick cases, mayonnaise cups.. you name it, they make it.
paper and foil cups
paper cups and foil cups are used to seperate strongly flavored foods that don’t mix well with other foods in the lunch, like tsukemono, or to protect the flavor of the food, like fruits. foil and paper cups come in a few different shapes and sizes: large circle, small circle, triangle, and elongated oval. the large circle is the easiest to find in any grocery store’s baking section. large circle paper baking cups are also easy to find in the baking section, however when looking for colored or printed cups, make sure the inside of the cup is colored or printed as well. in fact, the inside color is more important than the outside color.
paper cups that are made for bento boxes are plastic coated so that liquids don’t leake through them. if you can’t find plastic coated paper cups, you should use foil cups. you can use the baking cups, just don’t put them around anything too wet. i would suggest you use them to hold deep fried foods, like tempura or croquettes, or less watery fruits like apples, grapes, or oranges. the advantage is paper and foil cups are flexible and can be shaped to fit in your bento arrangement. the disadvantage is that they are not reusable, so if you have special ones you like to use, you have to hunt more down when you run out.
besides paper cups, there are also miniature plastic and silicone cups on the market. some of these containers are in cute shapes. the advantage to the mini plastic containers is that they are reusable. look for bento specific items or silicone candy making cups in the baking section of specialty kitchen stores. cupcake sized ones are usually too tall for most bento boxes.
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