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bento #47: Ano niku (manga meat)

May 2, 2009

in anime,bento

While I was making my Totoro with cherry blossoms bento, I was trying to figure out how to use all of the Inari-zushi skins. I usually buy canned Inari-zushi skins, and a can contains about 15 skins. I wanted to use them in a bento again, but I’ve already made Totoro and Nekobus… In the meantime, I’ve been working on a new bento idea, but I wasn’t too happy about it. Then I had an epiphany.

Bento #47: Ano Niku (Manga Meat)
Created and eaten on: 4/30/2009

One day, my boyfriend and I were in Toy Tokyo (a toy store that sells Japanese & collectible toys in NYC), and they had an “Ano NIku” cushion. He didn’t know what it was, so I explained it to him. “Ano Niku” (a.k.a. “Manga Niku” or “Anime Niku”) is something that many Japanese people immediately recognize. “Ano” means “that”, “Niku” means “meat” in Japanese. So Ano Niku literally means “That Meat.” It comes from “that meat from manga (or anime). I found out that the term “Manga Meat” is more common in the U.S. I want you to take a look at the wiki entry, but I’ll post some descriptions of “That Meat” because it’s funny.

- The main form is a big piece of meat covering a thick bone. Moreover, it has been butchered so that the meat is a single piece.
- The texture of the meat does not usually appear to be soft; people eating it tend to hold it in one or both hands and tear at it with wild abandon. The meat stretches as if it were rubber, but eventually rips.
- The meat comes in various sizes, but the length of bone tends to be anywhere from 40 to 80cm and the meat covers about two-thirds of the bone.
- The meat is cooked by grilling or smoking it.
- The meat is usually seasoned by spices like salt, pepper, and so on, but sometimes it doesn’t seem to have any apparent seasoning.

He found this absolutely hilarious. He would tell his friends about it, he started recognizing it everywhere in anime and manga, and he’d say “Ano Niku!” whenever he sees it.

Inari-zushi was brown, and it would be perfect Ano Niku! But I didn’t know what else to make… then I thought, why not make everything Ano Niku? All I had to do was pick ingredients that could look like meat and stick bones in.

First, I put hard boiled quail eggs into tsuyu (Japanese noodle sauce), and let them soak in it while I made other food. I first put lettuce and sauteed sliced renkon in the bento.

I thought four Inari-zushi was too boring, so I made two Inari-zushi, and mixed the rest of rice with hard boiled egg yolk and ketchup. I would usually use curry powder to dye the rice yellow, but it was just a little bit of rice, so I decided to try using egg yolk. I think this is great for someone who isn’t a huge fan of the smell of curry powder.

I mixed the egg white into mashed potato and made it into small balls. I then sprinkled Parmesan cheese on them, and cooked them in the oven until the surface was brown.

I didn’t think lettuce and renkon were enough veggies, so I wrapped boiled string beans with ham and cut it.

I made slits on beef sausages and cooked it in boiling water.

I still had meatballs.

After I put everything in the bento box, I sliced daikon (Asian radish), and cut it into a bone-shape. The daikon I used was a little bitter, so I boiled it for just a little bit to remove the bitterness. I dried each bone piece with a paper towel, and stuck them in each food. I sprinkled black sesame seeds over the rice, and regular sesame seeds over the Inari-zushi to finish it off.

This bento was just so much fun to make. I didn’t even prepare anything the night before (except meatballs) or finish the sketch. Each food was very simple, yet it looked so cute and funny, I really liked how it came out in the end. Of course, my boyfriend loved it. But the funny thing was that no one at work knew “Ano Niku,” but they still knew it was meat, and thought it was funny. I think that’s the power of “Ano Niku.” :)

Ano Niku 1:
- Inari-zushi, radish

Ano Niku 2:
- meatballs. radish

Ano Niku 3:
- string beans wrapped with ham, radish

Ano Niku 4:
- rice mixed with hard boiled egg yolk and ketchup, black sesame seed, radish

Ano Niku 5:
- quail egg soaked in tsuyu, radish

Ano Niku 6:
- sausage, radish

Ano Niku 7:
- potato, hard boiled egg white, radish

For more pictures of my bento, visit Bento! set and Bento details! set on my flickr page.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

dNo Gravatar May 3, 2009 at 2:20 am

So adorable! Randomly, I haven’t ever seen you post without using the word “boyfriend”.

Reply

astrorainfallNo Gravatar May 3, 2009 at 9:27 am

Love this bento and “ano niku” – hilarious. I never knew about manga meat!

Reply

yoiangNo Gravatar May 3, 2009 at 9:38 am

hahaha wow, smart and amazing as usual, but this one is hilarious

Reply

jeffreyNo Gravatar May 3, 2009 at 10:59 am

they look so good!
have you seen the real thing?
http://gizmodo.com/5168659/microwaveable-caveman-meat-snacks-from-japan

Reply

nacchan88No Gravatar May 4, 2009 at 4:20 am

*_* So adorable!!

Btw I’m going to buy that magazine…this is for sure!
I love japanese food and bento, even if I’m ot very good at making them in an “artistic” way ^^’

Can I segnalize this new in a forum about Japan, anime and manga??
Thanks^_^

Ja ne!

Reply

LoriNo Gravatar May 4, 2009 at 12:59 pm

Anna, you are simply brilliant and funny!

Reply

mattNo Gravatar November 28, 2009 at 11:46 am

cool. i had an assignmentonce to make manga meat. i used a 2 inch thick slab of beef brisket, smoked with hickory.

Reply

YumiNo Gravatar May 28, 2010 at 5:19 pm

Just wondering…did you cut each radish “bone” by hand?? Or is there a shaped cutter for it?

Reply

Traffic SiphonNo Gravatar August 13, 2010 at 9:29 pm

cute! ^_^

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