Dish of the Day: Tempura and Chicken Nanban Bento

Dish of the Day: Tempura and Chicken Nanban Bento

Image Credit: hazeldiary

Bento is a standard Japanese cuisine which refers to a single-portion home-packed or take-out food. It usually contains a variety of mains and side dishes together with rice or noodles, all in a box. The food can be packed into disposable containers or into handcrafted lacquerware that is widely sold across Japan. The bento boxes can be found in bento shops, railway stations, convenience stores and restaurants in Japan. 

A popular bento culture in Japan is where homemakers will wake up early in the morning to prepare bento lunch boxes for their family. Japanese children will bring their bento boxes to school and share with other children. 

What is Tempura & Chicken Nanban Bento

Tempura and Chicken Nanban Bento is one of the popular choices of bento which features tasty chicken with nanban sauce and shrimp tempura. The chicken and shrimp are put on warm rice, with its soy sauce flowing into the rice, making the dish flavourful. A variety of side dishes come along with the rice and chicken to complement the main ingredients. 

Elements in a Tempura & Chicken Nanban Bento

Rice is the most important element in a bento box. The best way to prepare the rice is to cook it in the morning and pack them in the bento box while the rice is still warm. This enables the rice to form a shape easier.

The chicken used in this dish can be leftovers from dinner or prepared fresh. Chicken breast or drumsticks are the parts commonly used in this bento. Marinated fried chicken can never go wrong, while the original recipe is simpler, yet the crisp, fluffy tendrils of egg coating the chicken is what makes the dish so tasty.

The unique part of this dish is the sweet and sour nanban sauce, which is composed of Japanese sweet rice wine, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and Kombu.

History of Bento and Tempura & Chicken Nanban 

The origin of bento can be traced back to the late Kamakura period, when cooked and dried rice, hoshi-ii was common to be taken to work. Hoshi-ii was kept in a small bag or container and was eaten as it is or boiled with water to make cooked rice.

In the Azuchi-Momoyama period, pretty wooden lacquered boxes were produced and widely used, and bento would be eaten during tea parties. While in the Meiji period, the train station bento known as ekiben, began at the Utsunomiya train station.

As for chicken nanban, it originated from Nobeoka, Japan and spread across the country. Like many other dishes in Japan, chicken nanban was said to have a foreign origin. It was inspired by a dish called Nanbanzuké, which is made with fried fish and onions soaked in a sweet vinegar sauce.

Nanbanzuke is actually derived from the Portuguese dish, Peixe Frito de Escabeche, which the Portuguese brought to Japan in the 17th century along with tempura, which was previously known as Peixinhos Da Horta in Portugal. The term “nanban” was initially used to refer to these European traders and missionaries, so nanbanzuké means “soaked European-style.”

Where to find Tempura & Chicken Nanban Bento in Malaysia

Tempura & Chicken Nanban Bento is sold in all chain sushi restaurants in Malaysia or other Japanese establishments. You can find the dish at Sushi KingMomochan and Yokotaya around Klang Valley.

Find more Japanese Cuisine on foodpanda!

Article Written By Anna

Anna is an absolute foodie, and lives by the motto that food is happiness. She is a writer by day and a gamer by night. She believes that good food comes from all over and is constantly amazed by the passion and dedication it takes to make food that warms the soul.

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