As a kid I was fascinated with bentos since I first saw one on Japan Video Topics. If you are unfamiliar about Japan Video Topics, it’s a mini-program wherein they showcase things of interest about Japan and it’s culture such as tourist spots, festivals,technology, food, etc. These are shown on a daily basis during odd hours on state-owned TV stations.
Recently, I found a renewed fascination for bentos, due in part to Kaoko’s creations. I’ve been trying to find the right opportunity to make a bento, and that opportunity presented itself when Nina suggested we have a picnic at the La Mesa Eco Park in Quezon City. I thought about what I was going to bring. It had to be something easy to prepare, something that we definitely like to eat because we would be sharing, and something Filipino. And adobo definitely is all three! So I decided to bring an adobo bento to our trip to the park. I paired it up with brown rice and a siding of fried eggplant, diced tomatoes and bagoong (sautéed shrimp paste).
Adobo has been synonymous to Pinoy food for as long as I can remember. If you asked someone to name a Filipino dish, chances are the answer you’ll get is “adobo”. Ask a fellow Pinoy or foreigners who have Filipino friends and contacts, and most of the time, that is going to be the answer. I don’t know why, but it just seems to be the case.
This is so easy to cook. I used pork belly cut into cubes, and started by sautéing it in oil with chopped garlic and onions. I sautéed it until all the pink is gone and before adding a tablespoon of oyster sauce. Next, I poured in the soy sauce which I allowed to simmer before adding in the cane vinegar. I brought it to a boil, lowered the flame, and allowed it to simmer until the sauce has reduced and thickened, and the meat is tender. I continued to simmer it on low heat until most of the sauce has been absorbed by the meat, and the fat has been rendered. I then allowed the pork meat to fry a little bit in the fat before taking it off the flame.
While I waited for the adobo to cook, I worked on my side dishes. I fried slices of eggplant, diced some tomatoes and scooped out some bagoong from the jar.
After the food has cooled slightly, I proceeded to put the bento together. Since I don’t have bento boxes, I used some disposable microwavable plastic containers which we already had. I used three containers in all, and to give it a more Filipino feel, I lined the containers with banana leaves. For garnishes, I used a tomato peel rosette for the adobo, and some banana leaves cut like bento grass for the rice.