We’ve covered the phenomenon of charabens in the past ranging from the extremely cute to the downright bizarre. However, as with any art form, the horror genre cannot be left out.  Inspired by some photos of horror bentos found online a reporter from the website Pouch, Hotaru Yamakawa, has decided to make her own series of 3 horror bentos and help you make your own.

The real challenge to making a horror bento is balancing the image with the taste. In other words it should just look like death, not taste like it.  Because of this you can’t just go around sloping ketchup “blood” onto white rice. You’ll have to blend the flavors better.  This was particularly on Ms. Yamakawa’s mind as she felt she would probably have to eat these herself after no one else would, and so she came up with these three dishes.

Zombie Bento

The first idea was to make a zombie’s head. The skins color and texture was based on fried rice.  Because of that, the ketchup blood’s taste could blend well.  The tongue is made of a slice of ham.

Frankenstein Bento

Expanding on the zombie bento theme Ms. Yamakawa created the head of Frankenstein’s monster.  This time though the skin was done with a tomato risotto which again matched with the ketchup blood.

Ghost Bento

Ms. Yamakawa’s favorite bento is based on a ghost woman’s face.  Because of her ghostly white skin, ketchup was off limits. Luckily she discovered that blood made with red pepper paste goes really well with white rice.

Different from the first two bentos which used kombu (kelp) boiled in soy sauce for hair, the ghost woman used hijiki, which might be hard to find in other countries. It’s also different since you’re working with white rice.  The toppings/features must be more carefully selected for taste.  For example fried tofu was used in the gaping head wound she has.  It’s the healthiest head wound you’ve ever seen!

Tips on Making Horror Bentos

These bento’s are highly recommended for a husband’s lunch at work the day after a having a “difference of opinion” with the missus. On the other hand, these bentos are rather time consuming so make sure your anger will last the approx. 1 hour it will take to prepare one.

Rice Tips

You’ll want to use watery rice for better sculpting.  If the rice is loose then it will be really hard to mold.  It will also be very sticky so you’ll need to lightly sculpt it to keep the shape intact.  You could use a spoon but it’s really hard to make fine details in the face with one.  Ms. Yamakawa uses her fingers covered with vinegar to prevent sticking.

Quail Eggs Make Perfect Eyes and Teeth

Eyes can be easily crafted by halving a quail’s egg.  Just arrange the egg so the pointy part goes into the tear duct, for a natural look – not that “natural” is really the look you’re going for with a horror bento.  Dicing up some extra quail egg whites will give you a nice set of dentures too.

Seaweed Makes for Easy Pupils and Nostrils

Seaweed is always great for fine detail work like eye pupils and nostrils. Other foods were attempted but didn’t live up to seaweed in terms of adhesion. If you find working with the small pieces difficult, try using tweezers.

For That Sick Complexion Use Aojiru

To get that hint of decay from behind the ghost lady’s eyes, Ms. Yamakawa went with aojiru (green drink) powder. Wanting to avoid aojiru due to its terrible taste she tried other substances but they just didn’t have the right paleness or texture.  The key is to just use as little as possible so that you get the color but not the taste.  Also, the zombie and Frankenstein’s skin was tinted with some aojiru to give it that perfect touch of rotting.

Having worked very hard on her ghoulish creations, Ms. Yamakawa went straight home to show her family.  However, as she revealed her masterpieces to them they stared at her with a hint of “….ugh” in their eyes.  She quickly closed the lid and everyone pretended nothing happened.

So as she predicted she had to eat these horrors by herself.  Good thing she cared about the taste!

Original Article and Bentos by: Hotaru Yamakawa
[ Read in Japanese ]