A very Japanese bento featuring stewed herring


Here’s a bento assembled mostly from leftovers and stock foods - from my mother’s Japanese kitchen that is!

In the top compartment: shinmai or new harvest rice, topped with some chirimenjako - semi-dried little fish - and a couple of slices of a type of long-keeping pickle called narazuke.

In the bottom compartment: herrings (nishin) stewed with umeboshi plum; stir fried green bell pepper; nimame or stewed beans; tamagoyaki; squid and vegetable ohitashi; and a piece of stewed atsuage fried tofu.

The only thing made fresh was the tamagoyaki - everything else was either already stocked in the freezer or refrigerator, or storebought (the chirimenjako and narazuke). The rice was from freezer stock. It took about 20 minutes to assemble, what with making the tamagoyaki and so on, but could have been done more efficiently I think.

I realize this is a pretty classically Japanese bento, but I thought it would be fun to show one like this - just to see what people (or rather, adults) have for bentos here! The stewed herrings were really delicious, sweet and savory with just a touch of acid, but my mother really doesn’t have a recipe per se, so I’ll try to work one out soon.

The box I used is a gorgeous magewappa. I’ll have more about this box pretty soon…

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Re: A very Japanese bento featuring stewed herring

I think one of the best ways to experience a culture is through their food. Since I can't go to Japan right now, this was a real treat for the eyes! I would love to see more while you are there!

Do the chirimenjako have a strong flavor? From the photo, my initial thought is that they look very salty.

Re: A very Japanese bento featuring stewed herring

This is a beautiful bento! What do stewed herring taste like? Are there bones to pick out, and do you eat the skin? I always wonder that when looking at photos of bentos with fish. I grew up only eating fish filets with no skin or bones, and that seems to be the most popular way to serve fish in this area. (Northeast USA)

I just recently started eating little sardines in olive oil from a can, and they have the skin and tail attached, but the head and guts are removed. Just wondering if the herring is similar in taste and texture.


This looks so tasty. I'll be sharing it with my readers tomorrow. I've just gotten my first bento box, and now I think I may want to do some of my lunches with my own Mom Food, instead of just the Japanese foods I was planning on.

Re: A very Japanese bento featuring stewed herring

enjoy your stay in japan! - this looks so good & is making me hungry. :) *stomachgrumblegrumble*

Re: A very Japanese bento featuring stewed herring


I love it! I am going to be starting to teach Bento classes soon from my kitchen in West London. This is really inspiring as Bento should always be healthy!


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