Oyako-don: Chicken in Egg Sauce over Rice
Here’s a chicken-and-the-egg dish whose name is a bit of a play on words. Oya means parent and Ko = child. The don is short for donburi, a whole family of protein-in-sauce-over-a-rice-bowl dishes. So put it together and you get “parent-and-child-donburi”…get it?
Following much the same recipe you could also make Tanin-don, which uses pork instead of chicken. (Tanin means…wait for it…”strangers”). Or skip the meat and you end up with Tamago-don (tamago = “egg”). The sauce is the same in each: all of them are delicious.
A donburi is, by definition, nothing fancy. Yet, when it’s done well, oyako-don can be absolutely magnificent: a light, savory-sweet dream of chicken and egg over sticky rice.
This is the dish that first convinced my husband that Japanese food really is something special. On trips to Japan, he forces me to hunt around for the best Oyakodon, finally landing in a tiny restaurant in Kyoto famous for this dish. With a typical Kyoto taste, light and delicate, this dish transcends its junk food roots and comes very close to…well…a work of art.
This recipe is dedicated to our friend Juan who went to the Asian store in his home town and got confused – buying Japanese pepper (sanshyo) instead of Japanese peppers. He’s been wondering what to do with the pepper ever since. Well, Juan, oyako-don here is an excellent use for your sanshyo!
Ingredients (for two)
- Chicken thighs, boneless – 150 grams
- Eggs – two
- Onion – one medium one
- Water – 200 ml (3/4ths of a cup)
- Soy sauce – one tablespoon
- Sake – one tablespoon
- Dashi – one teaspoon
- Sugar – one tablespoon
- Mirin – one tablespoon
- Salt – 1/3rd of a teaspoon
- Optional: Spring onion (sliced thin)
- Optional (but highly recommended): Japanese pepper (sanshyo)
- Optional: Cut nori seaweed (either sushi-nori or flavored-nori is ok)
- Julienne the onions
- Cube the chicken
- Mix the two eggs gently with a fork, being careful not to fully homogenize them
- Cook some white rice
- Over a very hot dry pan, heat up some sushi-nori to “re-roast it” – 10-20 seconds is enough. This step is essential to recover the nori’s flavor and freshness, especially if you’re using a Nori package that has been open for a while.
- Using kitchen scissors, cut the Nori into thin strips.
- In a small saucepan, boil 200 ml. of water
- Add dashi, soy sauce, sake, sugar, mirin and salt. This is your sauce base.
- Add chicken and onions. Allow to boil, turn heat down to low. Then cook for 10 minutes or so, until onions are fully translucent.
- Place rice in a deep bowl – never on a dish!
- Add eggs, then cover and turn off heat immediately.
- Let it sit, covered, for about 30 seconds. You’re aiming at mostly – but not fully – cooked eggs.
- Scoop the eggy, chickeny sauce on top of the rice.
- Optional: Sprinkle the bowl with Japanese pepper (sanshyo) and Nori.
- Serve right away.
click to enlarge
Tonight we had oyakodon, spinach namul and fried gobou.