Easy Japanese Recipes

Chicken Nanban Bento チキン南蛮弁当

Chicken Nanban Bento Recipe | JustOneCookbook.com Today is my 3rd Bento post and several readers had asked me on previous posts how I make bento for my son in the morning with such a short time.  Do I cook each dish in the morning?  No, I don’t – but I do re-heat the dishes and occasionally cook one fresh dish, but usually an easy one.  My bento making ends up only taking about 15-20 minutes every morning.  Today I’ll share Bento Freezing Technique and show how to save time in the morning for packing bentos.

Recently I updated my old Chicken Nanban post with new pictures.  I cook this dish pretty often because it’s easy and my family likes it.  The updated photos had skewers attached to the dish so they look like an appetizer dish.  Typically I just plate the chicken, two kinds of bell peppers, and eggplant in order and sprinkle Shiso leaves (Perilla) on top.  The flavor of deep fried chicken with a sweet and sour sauce is so addicting!

When I make dishes for dinner, I put aside enough food to pack for bento before serving to my family.  For today’s recipe, I packed 1 serving of cooled Chicken Nanban in small container and froze it.  I buy these small freezer containers at Japanese $1 store (Daiso) but you can use small Ziploc containers for the same purpose.  Sometimes if my son like the dish I will pack 2 servings so he can enjoy the same dish 2 weeks in a roll.

And what else do I pack?  You will see broccoli and tomatoes in my bento box quite often.  Those are some veggies that my son enjoys eating so I always put them.  You can blanch (or use microwave to cook) broccoli every time, or you can do it all at once and freeze them.  And the same goes to Tamagoyaki (Japanese Rolled Omelette).  If you want to save some time in the morning, then please visit Basic Freezing Techniques for more info.

I cannot stress enough that making bento is not so hard if you have leftover and some frozen bento ingredients.

One more thing.  When you look at today’s bento consisting of plain white rice with an umeboshi (Japanese salty pickled plum) in the center, does it look familiar to you?  This particular bento is called Hinomaru bento (日の丸弁当).  This name was taken from the Hinomaru, the Japanese flag.  It’s a little tibid for today’s bento.  Let’s start today’s bento now!

Previous Dinner was:

Chicken Nanban | Fried Chicken with Soy Vinegar Dressing @ JustOneCookbook.com

Lunch Next Day:

  • Chicken Nanban Bento
  • A medium size box of fruits: oranges and yellow peaches.
  • Water bottle

Chicken Nanban Bento | Just One Cookbook.com

Don’t want to miss a recipe? Sign up for the FREE Just One Cookbook newsletter delivered to your inbox! And stay in touch on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram for all the latest updates. Thank you so much for reading, and till next time!

Chicken Nanban Bento
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 1 Bento
  1. Fill up half of bento box with Japanese rice. Let it cool so that hot/warm rice will not warm up other cool food.*
  2. Pan fry leftover Chicken Nanban or bake in a toaster oven until it's warm.
  3. Heat butter in a frying pan and saute mixed vegetables until cooked through. Season with salt and pepper. Put it in a bento silicone cup.
  4. Wash tomatoes and pat dry. Place nicely in the bento box along with broccoli.
  5. Pack Tamagoyaki and cooled Chicken Nanban.
  6. Put Umeboshi on top of slightly cooled rice.
  7. Cool down completely before closing the bento box.
[Please read FOOD SAFETY TIPS .]

If you are using a thermal bento box like Thermos, you do not need to cool down before closing lunch box.

This lunch is for my 6-year-old son.

* Cook broccoli florets in microwave: Put 1-2 broccoli florets in a small microwave-safe bowl/container. Fill with water and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave for a minute or so until it's a little bit soft (or you can blanch it as well). Drain well and let it cool.

Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.


Posted in: Bento

Leave a Comment

+ 4 = eight

  • Mel September 21, 2012, 1:27 am

    I like to look at Bento set because it can come in so colorful, varieties, and even fascinating food cut out in cute shapes too. As I made a comment in your facebook, I shall let my sis look at your Bento set.

  • donna mikasa September 21, 2012, 1:29 am

    Your bentos are not only healthy–they’re little works of art! Your son is so lucky! Thanks for the freezing tips, and you’re making me miss those 100 yen shops! Happy weekend, Nami!

  • Rosa September 21, 2012, 1:33 am

    Gorgeous! I wish I had such a bento for lunch.



  • Jill @ MadAboutMacarons September 21, 2012, 1:56 am

    Nami, your children are SO lucky! What a fun and healthy way to prepare them and great tips here. I wish my kids were allowed to bring in their own food – either they eat at the canteen or they go home for lunch but there’s nothing like the excitement of opening up a lunch box as I remember at school. But we never had anything like this fabulous bento!

  • Renata September 21, 2012, 2:24 am

    I’m loving your bentos! So artistic! Who wouldn’t love to eat that!

  • Tataya Kudo September 21, 2012, 3:09 am

    I hardly use leftover or frozen food to prepare lunch boxes. So you can imagine how busy I am in the morning. Thanks for sharing these basic freezing technique, they sure will ease my life.

  • Kimmi September 21, 2012, 4:07 am

    Fantastic! I appreciate the section on basic freezing techniques. Sometimes I get nervous about whether my food will keep in the freezer, and how long I am able to leave it there… so your guidelines are very helpful. I’m sure they put us all a little more at ease with the prep work that saves us time when making bento. =) Thanks!

  • Sonia aka Nasi Lemak Lover September 21, 2012, 4:10 am

    Thanks for the tips on how to prepare bento in early morning, even now I did not prepare bento in the morning but this benefit me if one day I need to do so. And your chicken nanban sound so yummy !

  • Choc Chip Uru September 21, 2012, 5:10 am

    This bento meal has been one of my favorites so far because of look and flavour :)

    Choc Chip Uru

  • yummychunklet September 21, 2012, 5:25 am

    Wow. I was immediately struck by the awesome colors in this bento!

  • Helene Dsouza I Masala Herb September 21, 2012, 5:45 am

    Those are some useful tips. Still I havent had the chance to make one of your bentos nami. Maybe I l have to organize a picnic sometime, so that I have an excuse to make bento. hehe

  • Eri September 21, 2012, 6:19 am

    Yeaaaah!!! I was wondering about packaging and freezing, thnak you Nami, did I tell you that I just LOOOVVVVVEEEE your bento posts?
    Hugs my friend, have a wonderful weekend!

  • Elizabeth@ Food Ramblings September 21, 2012, 6:31 am

    You have one lucky son!!

  • Ramona September 21, 2012, 6:43 am

    You make it all look so easy! I was on the phone with my sister yesterday and told her to go to your blog because you do such an amazing job with your dishes, styling and photography!! She agree with me!! :) I love how you took leftovers from dinner and did this bento. You have a lucky child getting all this love in their lunch box. :) Have a wonderful weekend my friend! ~ Ramona

  • Jeno @ Week Nite Meals September 21, 2012, 7:06 am

    Nami, do you feel a texture change once the food items have been frozen?

    Love the bento series, to tell you the truth I have not shown Trinity these postings, because she might start requesting for me to get up early and make her fresh lunches! I do love that she still enjoys me packing her left over for school lunch, though she has been talking about middle school cafeteria food (her best friend’s brother started 6 grade, and he said the food in middle school does get better). Last night we took her to Luby’s Cafeteria, afterward she said: “Yeah I found out I am not a deli or cafeteria person…” Hahahaha, do you think our children have been spoiled with our cooking?

    Have a good weekend!

    • Nami September 30, 2012, 1:04 pm

      Hi Cindy! Sorry for my late response… About the texture change – most of the food, nope. I only freeze something that won’t change texture. Most fried stuff or blanched veggies are okay. There are a lot of food that freezes well. In fact it’s better to freeze right away (after cooled down of course) than keep in the fridge over night. I freeze rice even though I eat next day. It is much better than keeping in the fridge and microwave. :)

  • Jen @ Savory Simple September 21, 2012, 7:08 am

    Your bento boxes are so inspiring!

  • Dara September 21, 2012, 7:48 am

    I love the bento series. The chicken Nanban look soooo scruptious. I love the stacked presentation. One question: where are you purchasing these adorable containers?

  • Cheap Ethnic Eatz September 21, 2012, 9:26 am

    Very cute bento again. great tips on how to prepare. Freezing portions ahead is a great idea and time saver. The sauteed veggies are in silicone muffin cups? Cute and clever.

    • Nami September 28, 2012, 11:28 am

      These silicone cups are for bento, but read in somewhere that it’s microwavable and oven safe. :)

  • Laura (Tutti Dolci) September 21, 2012, 11:31 am

    Nami, I think your kids have the best lunches! They will be the envy of all the other students in their class :). Have a wonderful weekend!

  • Minnie@thelady8home September 21, 2012, 11:42 am

    What a fascinating bento Nami. Amazing! You have lots of patience, and you kids are lucky :) My kids are such picky eaters that it’s hard to make them happy with their lunch boxes. Thankfully their school canteen now cooks hot food, so as of now they are doing good. But this is so worthy of bookmarking. Thanks so much!!!!

  • Muna Kenny September 21, 2012, 11:44 am

    Nami, I wish I was your kid, LOL! I bit kids at school are jealous of your kids, I know I’ll be ;)

  • Sandra September 21, 2012, 1:03 pm

    I wish this was my lunch!

  • Hotly Spiced September 21, 2012, 1:37 pm

    Your son is so blessed to be presented with such a beautiful lunchbox of beautiful food that’s so good for him. It looks so inviting, Nami and there’s so much flavour and variety packed in there. I love it! xx

  • Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious September 21, 2012, 2:12 pm

    I love these cute little bentos you’ve been posting lately! This is why I need kids – so I can make this for them and be the best mom ever! Or I can just make it for myself of course :)

  • mycookinghut September 21, 2012, 2:46 pm

    Such a pretty bento! I love it, you have done a great job!

  • Tina (PinayInTexas) September 21, 2012, 3:13 pm

    Wow! You’re doing bento now! My daughters love going to school more because of the bentos I make for them. I’m sure Enzo is enjoying it too! Can’t wait to see what you’ll come up with next time!

  • Patty September 21, 2012, 4:01 pm

    I would like you to pack my lunch Nami- these are beyond anything I’ve ever packed in a lunch and I love that these Bentos can be accomplished with just a little planning ahead, thanks so much for sharing this series;-)

  • Lisa H September 21, 2012, 4:12 pm

    Its so neatly arranged…happy to have a beautifully arranged lunch in a box :D
    I would love to pack bento for my kids’ lunch…but whenever we have Japanese meal at home…all will be gone, nothing left for lunch :)
    Must remember to cook extra the next time, I know my girl would be a happy bunny if she were to have this for lunch everyday…

  • kat September 21, 2012, 5:08 pm

    such a pretty bento!

  • Balvinder September 21, 2012, 6:31 pm

    I got the update in email and now it was also showing on my dashboard. Wow! This is a pretty healthy lunch.

  • Lora @cakeduchess September 21, 2012, 6:44 pm

    Oh-I just love bentos. Yours is so pretty and delicious, Nami. I need to learn some more ideas from you for my kids’ lunches-very boring compared to this!

  • mjskit September 21, 2012, 8:11 pm

    You are incredibly organized! I can see how being organized sure makes your life easier in the morning. Morning is not the time for stress and hurry. It’s the time to slowly wake up and get the day going at a gentle pace. Sounds like you have that down. I have to admit that my favorite item in this bento is the Japanese Omelet. Ever since I watched that video of how to make it, I’ve been intrigued. It’s been on my To Do list every since. Another lovely bento box! Have a great weekend Nami!

  • Delishhh September 21, 2012, 8:29 pm

    Great advice and you are just an AWESOME mom :) I love Bento boxes they are so cute. I love how you use leftovers. I understand why your child loves this.

  • Eha September 21, 2012, 8:54 pm

    It must be so appetizing for your son to open his bento box :) ! Beautiful combination as usual! As you say, it is more a matter of being organized than the degree of difficulty or even time!! Now, I work from home: usually eat alone, always in the garden unless the heavens have opened up!! In my own way I also prepare a ‘bento box’ which looks appealing, is appetizing and healthy and love my time away from responsibilities . . . .

  • The Squishy Monster September 21, 2012, 9:51 pm

    I am definitely not a morning person so I’m loving these tips, Nami! Thank you!!!

  • vianney September 21, 2012, 10:07 pm

    loving this series! My kids love to create their own… and great tips~

  • Andrea September 22, 2012, 12:16 am

    Nami, you have such inspired ideas all the time, I just love the fact that you are able to plan everything so well, keeping some small portions of your beautiful dinner aside before serving dinner, freezing them properly, creating amazing bento boxes with all the different elements – I am really impressed and I have great respect for all the work and love you put into your food preparation!

    Have a terrific weekend with your family!

  • Lynna September 22, 2012, 1:19 am

    This looks soo good! :) I recently realized that I can freeze a lot of things to save time and I love it. :D

    Have a wonderful weekend with your family~~

  • Chef and Steward September 22, 2012, 1:27 am

    I would hereby like to apply to be a kid in your home so that you would pack me these delicious and beautiful bentos for lunch everyday! Great work as usual Nami!

  • Nazneen|Coffee and Crumpets September 22, 2012, 7:17 am

    Your bento boxes are beautiful, Nami. I want to know though, does your son eat all of his food? I can’t get my son to eat his one little sandwich because he’s so intent on going out to play for recess.

    I would love someone to pack this for me though!

    Nazneen xx

  • Sammie September 22, 2012, 8:36 am

    omg Nami you are simply a genius. I’m always so lost on “what should I eat today” / “what should I make today” / “this is expiring… what should I make with it?”. And then I think about those for so long that by the time I’ve decided on what to make, it’s already so late and I don’t have time anymore…. sigh… So your improvisation is definitely a trait that I have yet to adapt! haha… Yummy looking bento! Your son is so lucky!! :D

  • food-4tots September 22, 2012, 8:50 am

    I really admire your bento making skill. Your bento is full of all the delicious foods. I have never thought of making one. Maybe it’s time I need to fix my lazy bones. ;)

  • Gina September 22, 2012, 8:50 am

    Keeping feeding your kids like this and they may never leave home, he he. So pretty and healthy, I might have to start making these for myself for lunch. Hope you have a great weekend.

  • Sissi September 22, 2012, 8:55 am

    Nami, I love fish nanban zuke and chicken nanban has been on my to do list for long months. It sounds absolutely delicious. Thanks for sharing the great tips. The bento looks marvellous and colourful, but the dinner looks breathtaking: as if it was made by a professional chef in an elegant restaurant. You keep on surprising us all the time!

  • Food Jaunts September 22, 2012, 9:00 am

    Keep the bentos coming, especially the tips. I don’t have kids yet (but plan to soon) and I’m trying to absorb all the knowledge I can :)

  • Valerie Brunmeier September 22, 2012, 9:12 am

    Such a bright a beautiful lunch. Who wouldn’t love that? Your kids will be so spoiled Nami. So much better than the offerings at school!

  • Rhonda September 22, 2012, 9:38 am

    Looks delicious, and how great that your son likes some veggies in his lunch and will actually eat them. my husband wont even eat broccoli!

  • Reese@SeasonwithSpice September 22, 2012, 11:57 am

    Your kids are eating so well, Nami. Not only you make the food delicious, you also make them with a touch of artistry. It was a shock to me to see how kids eat in the US and what they serve in schools in the first month I got here. I can see if bento is introduced to kids at a young age, they will learn to appreciate real foods better. I really enjoy this series even though I don’t have kids to feed yet:) Oh, how I wish Daiso is available in Minnesota!

  • Parsley Sage September 22, 2012, 2:33 pm

    I wish you were my mom! I’m LOVING this bento series :)

  • Kristy September 22, 2012, 4:28 pm

    Your bentos just blow me away Nami. Mr. N’s lunches don’t look near as fun or fancy. These are just too cute and so healthy too. I love the veggie cup and the nanban sounds very good!

  • kitchenriffs September 22, 2012, 8:18 pm

    I’m loving your Bento series! You’re right that it’s pretty simple, but you do need to do some thinking. You’re such a great mom – I’ll bet your son really is enjoying his lunch. Definitely something he’ll remember in years to come. Good post – thanks.

  • anna September 22, 2012, 9:38 pm

    aw such cute little bentos! your son is a lucky fellow!

  • cakewhiz September 22, 2012, 9:55 pm

    i can’t wait till my little one starts school coz i am sure he would love these bento meals. they are healthy yet colorful and inviting :D

  • Raymund September 23, 2012, 1:58 am

    What a coincidence I was thinking of making some nanban this week

  • Tiffany September 23, 2012, 6:35 am

    Another amazing bento!!! You are so inspiring! :D

  • Sylvia@Peaches and Donuts September 23, 2012, 12:55 pm

    That’s another beautiful bento!

  • Carolyn Jung September 23, 2012, 1:58 pm

    My niece is teaching English in Japan for a year, and she’s been posting photos of the bentos she has made. Yours definitely look fancier. But I’m proud of hers, nevertheless, because it’s the first time she’s really cooking for herself — a skill that no doubt will come in handy in the years to come. ;)

  • Monet September 23, 2012, 7:04 pm

    Can you please make my lunch tomorrow? This looks perfect. Such colorful and beautiful little bites. Makes eating even more fun Thank you so much for sharing…what a delicious way to end my weekend. I hope you have a beautiful Monday, my friend!

  • Lola Lobato September 23, 2012, 7:08 pm

    WONDERFUL!!!! healthy, fun and yummy.

  • Jenn and Seth September 23, 2012, 8:09 pm

    i just love your bentos, each one looks so fun and delicious!

  • Kiran @ KiranTarun.com September 23, 2012, 9:52 pm

    I have respect towards your kids — they are great at eating vegetables! Bravo :)

  • Rowena @ Apron and Sneakers September 24, 2012, 9:37 am

    I really love your Bento series Nami! Thanks for sharing!

  • Sandra's Easy Cooking September 25, 2012, 4:01 pm

    This one also very colorful, healthy and delicious! I like the combination and arrangement of this bento too. Keep them coming but I know it takes time to post this kind of posts with the regular posts, so I appreciate it that much more!

  • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake September 26, 2012, 3:49 am

    I used to look at and download a lot of cute bento photos from Japanese bento sites, I love how Japanese mothers are so talented and hard working! I’ve attempted it before and have bought a whole lot of bento equipment, you have just inspired me to make some more, even though I don’t have any children to give them to. ;)

  • Stephanie September 26, 2012, 9:58 am

    Another great bento. I bet your son enjoys the different lunches you pack for him!

  • A Little Yumminess September 27, 2012, 7:29 am

    your bentos are amazing!!! i am so inspired!

  • Alyssa September 27, 2012, 10:26 pm

    I love Daiso!!!!!! There is one here (although they over charge!) and I always recommend it to people. I seriously go there almost every week-I’m actually getting ready to go after I finish checking email and try to catch up on blogs :) They have such great photo props and other random things. I never thought about buying stuff for a bento box. I love this, I’m sure it would be a great way to get the kids to eat veggies!

  • Shirley September 30, 2012, 7:27 pm

    The chicken nanban looks mouthwatering!! I like the combination with eggplant. I’m so jealous of your son, having delicious bento boxes every day. ;)

  • Kit October 2, 2012, 6:15 pm

    Loving the Bento series. The Bentos look yummy. Much fancier than the ones I have for lunch but I find that I like looking at bentos more than eating them.

    • Nami October 2, 2012, 10:30 pm

      Thank you Kit! I know what you mean – this is my first year making bento for my son, and last year I enjoyed seeing beautiful bentos some other bloggers were making. :)

  • Allen at Cook! Bake! Share! October 19, 2012, 12:19 am

    I, too, am enjoying your bento posts. I need to find heathy, varied lunches for my wife to take to work and your recipes will be very helpful! Allen.

  • Terris @ Free Eats October 23, 2012, 11:36 am

    Wow, this one is so pretty to look at! I just love all the colors and I totally agree that this is a wonderful way to get a nutritious variety of foods into our kids tummies! Can’t wait to see more from your Bento series.