Japanese Cuisine: Nimono Bento Box

Nimono, literally "to simmer," is one of the Japanese cuisine's most important cooking techniques. Nimono refers to foods that are typically consumed at every meal besides breakfast. Moreover, the nimono is the most prevalent method for preparing and serving vegetables. In addition, this is a common and popular way to prepare fish. Famous nimono dishes include nizakana or nitsuke, which are fish poached in sweetened dashi, sometimes with miso added; kakuni, which is pork belly chunks stewed in soy, mirin, sugar and sake with large pieces of daikon and whole boiled eggs; and oden, a traditional Japanese winter dish made with boiled eggs, daikon, and sweetened dashi.

Nimono is among the most prevalent Japanese cooking methods. This is a typical cooking method at home for fish, vegetables, and meat. It is rustic and simple. Slowly cooking fish, vegetables, tofu, or meat in a liquid base. Nimono dishes are typically served alongside rice and an assortment of "okazu" side dishes. Bento boxes can also be packed with nimono dishes for lunch. Nimono can be found on the menus of izakaya, which are Japanese gastropubs and other restaurants. The phrase "ofukuro no aji," meaning "the flavor of mom's home cooking," is frequently used to describe nimono dishes. Therefore, these foods are fundamental to Japanese culture.

What is nimono?

Nimono is the Japanese word for "simmered dishes." Root vegetables and kabocha squash are slow-cooked until the liquid is absorbed in a mixture of dashi broth and seasonings such as soy sauce, sake, mirin, or miso. Nimono is the Japanese word for "simmered dishes." Root vegetables and kabocha squash are cooked in a dashi broth with flavorings including soy sauce, sake, mirin, or miso until all the liquid is absorbed. In most instances, otoshibuta translates to "drop lid," which is used to prepare a nimono. It rests atop the veggies and other ingredients like a French cartouche made of parchment paper. The otoshibuta prevents the liquid from completely evaporating and preserves the ingredients.

Typically, a variety of ingredients are used to prepare cook the nimono. Vegetables like onions, carrots, and mushrooms, starchy foods like kabocha pumpkin, potatoes, and taro root, and meats and seafood like chicken, pork, tofu, mackerel, and salmon are the most common foods but sometimes vegetables are being used. Nimono may also contain various starchy components. The final flavor of a dish can vary greatly depending on the amount of each seasoning and the length of time the various components are cooked together. Other dishes are prepared until the braising liquid evaporates or the ingredients absorb it.

Pork Belly Stewed w/ Simmered Dish Vegetables | Daikon Radish (mushroom soaking liquid)

What are examples of nimono?

Here are the examples of popular nimono dishes:

  • Saba no Misoni
    Mackerel is prepared in a miso-and-ginger-based sauce for the dish saba no misoni. This dish is exceptionally nutritious due to the miso soy paste and omega-3 fatty acids found in the mackerel. Even though mackerel can have a strong fishy flavor, those who have never tried it can appreciate it when prepared in miso sauce. The dish goes well with steamed white rice, fresh ginger slices, and chopped scallions.

    Eat Saba Misoni - Chopstick Chronicles
  • Nizakana / Nitsuke
    The preparation of fish with soy sauce is called nizakana or nitsuke. This dish can be made with the filet of a larger fish, such as flounder, or with whole small fish that can be cooked in a pan, such as sardines. When simmering, use a lighter broth for white fish and other fish with mild flavors but a stronger broth for oily fish or fish with strong flavors.

    Cook Japanese Simmered Fish (Sakana no Nitsuke) Recipe
  • Nikujaga
    Nikujaga is a stew made with meat, potatoes, and various vegetables. In the language from which this dish derives its name, it is known as "meat and potatoes." The dish had existed since the 1800s when Japanese chefs attempted to recreate British-style beef stews using local ingredients. This is where the dish known as Nikujaga originated. Instead of a stew with a gravy-like consistency, this dish has an extremely thin braising liquid and is flavored with dashi. In the Kansai region of western Japan, beef is typically used to prepare Nikujaga. In the Kanto region of eastern Japan, pork is consumed. Cattle were raised in the Kansai region's plains. In the region of Kanto, samurai utilized horses and also raised pigs. There were once more pig farms than cattle farms in the Kansai region.

    Bowl of Nikujaga | Nimono Dish
  • Kabocha no Nimono
    Kabocha no nimono is prepared with a kabocha pumpkin cooked in dashi until tender and absorbing all broth. Due to kabocha's high starch content, excessive stirring will cause the pieces to separate and become crumbly. As a result, the food should be balanced. If the kabocha no nimono is simmered over low heat with the otoshi-buta lid on top, pumpkin puree will not form. When kombu kelp or shiitake mushrooms make dashi broth instead of fish or other animal products, the broth is delicious and vegan-friendly.

    Kabocha Pieces
  • Kakuni
    Kakuni, also known as buta no kakuni, is a rich dish of pork belly braised in soy sauce until it is so tender that it falls apart when cooked. This dish is commonly known as "rafute" in Okinawa. This dish resembles the traditional Chinese hongshao rou (red cooked pork).

    Kakuni (Japanese Simmered Pork Belly)



  • small carrot

  • large taro root

  • 1/2 tbsp mirin

  • 2 dried mushrooms

  • 1/4 cup bonito flakes

  • 1 tbsp sake

  • 1 tbsp soy sauce

  • kombu seaweed

  • 1/4 cup lotus root


  1. Cover the dried mushrooms with water in a small bowl and press them with another small bowl.

  2. After 15 to 20 minutes, drain the mushrooms and reserve the soaking liquid.

  3. Remove the stems and quarter the caps of the mushrooms. For consumption, peel the carrot and cut it into small pieces.

  4. The taro is peeled and salted before being rinsed in cold water. Cut the taro into small, easily digestible pieces.

  5. Peel and slice the lotus root to a 14-inch thickness. Cut each slice into quarters next. Place the lotus root pieces in a bowl with water and vinegar.

  6. Make the dashi stock. Bring 2 cups of water and the kombu to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Remove from heat and let stand for five minutes. Take out the kombu and set it aside.

  7. Once again, bring the dashi to a boil before adding the katsuobushi. Remove from heat and let stand for five minutes.

  8. Utilize a filter with a fine mesh to strain the stock. Combine the dashi stock and the liquid from soaking the mushrooms.

  9. Cut the kombu into small, easily digestible pieces. Combine the chopped vegetables, kombu, and dashi stock in a Dutch oven or other large pot over medium heat.

  10. The mixture should be simmering before the addition of the sake. Add soy sauce and cover the vegetables with a slit lid (otoshibuta). The temperature should be set to medium-low.

  11. Use a filter with a fine mesh to eliminate any surface scum. The vegetables should be cooked for 25–30 minutes or until tender and nearly all liquid have evaporated. Immediately after removing the food from the heat, whisk in the mirin.


Is bento Korean or Japanese?

Bento is the Japanese term for "lunch box," typically a takeout container containing an entire meal. Each day during the Kamakura period in Japan in the 1200s, workers brought small bags of cooked rice to the workplace. In time, wooden boxes became the standard for party hosting.

What is nimono is Japanese food?

In Japan, slow-cooked vegetable dishes are known as nimono. Root vegetables and kabocha squash are braised in a dashi broth with soy sauce, sake, mirin, miso, and other ingredients. Misoni and nikujaga are traditional Nimono dishes (beef and potato stew).

What does bento mean in Japanese?

The term "bento" refers to both a method of preparing and serving food in Japan and the container used to transport food when people are away from home, such as at school, work, on a field trip, or enjoying the spring flowers. Bento, which translates to "lunch box" in Japanese, has gained popularity nationwide. The history of the Bento Box indicates that Japanese people utilize these containers frequently. Japan is the birthplace of bento boxes, which have existed since the fifth century and are now popular in many countries worldwide.

What is Japanese yakimono?

Grill or broil-prepared seafood in Japanese cuisine. Examples of yakimono include grilled sea bream in the Wakasa style, seasoned the night before grilling with salt and a light soy sauce coating, and a rosy seabass from Tsushima Island roasted over charcoal to make the flesh fluffy and tender and the skin and scales fragrant.

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In numerous traditional Japanese dishes, ingredients are first simmered in dashi stock. The otoshibuta, a drop lid, covers the nimono's various components. This resembles how a French cartouche would cover food in the kitchen. The otoshibuta maintains the consistency of the liquid and prevents its components from separating.

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The primary component of a typical nimono is an ingredient that is simmered after being braised in shiru stock and seasoned with sake, soy sauce, and sugar. The nimono is simmered at a low temperature in the shiru until all of the liquid has been absorbed by the base, or all the liquid has evaporated.

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