One of the most popular dishes across of all Japan whether you’re in a restaurant or at home, also happens to be one of the easiest to make and needs only a small handful of basic store cupboard ingredients. An incredibly soothing, rich and soulful meal that tastes like you’ve known it all of your life even on your first time eating it. Oyakodon- literally meaning ‘parent and child rice bowl’- is a satisfyingly large and filling bowl of rice, topped with succulent pieces of chicken thigh and onion, coated in a smooth and brothy mixture of dashi and barely set eggs. Each mouthful of this creamy chicken feast is slightly different as the egg continues to cook with the heat of the rice, so whilst the first bite might bring back memories of boiled eggs and soldiers for breakfast, the second could be a roast dinner and the third a warming bowl of hot rice pudding- is it any wonder that oyakodon is so comforting when every one of these dishes has the power to make you recall childhood memories?
Thought to have been invented in a Tokyo restaurant in the late 1800s, the poetic name which references the chicken and egg components of the dish led to the creation of the equally-delicious Tanindon or ‘unrelated person rice bowl’, which replaces the parental chicken with thinly sliced pieces of unrelated beef. Our recipe works just as well for this version of the dish too, just substitute in slices of either pork or beef and continue as normal.
- 600g boneless chicken thighs
- 200g onion
- 8 eggs
- 4 portions of cooked Japanese rice
- 160ml dashi
- 80ml sake
- 60ml soy sauce
- 35g sugar
- pinch of salt
- 2 spring onions to serve
- 4 raw egg yolks to serve (optional)
- shichimi togarashi to serve
Although not traditional, we like to add an extra step to our oyakodon by searing the chicken in a pan to introduce another texture and flavour to the dish; for a more authentic recipe just ignore step one and start at step two.
- Place your frying pan on a high heat and leave it to warm up for a minute while you prepare the chicken. Trim away and discard any excess flaps of skin from the chicken, then season the thighs and place them skin side down into the hot pan. Let the chicken cook for four to five minutes without moving to allow a crusty, crispy skin to develop, then turn the pieces over and cook for a further two to three minutes on the flesh side. Remove the chicken thighs from the pan and let them cool just enough to handle.
- Peel and slice the onions along their length into long slivers, cut the cooked (or raw) chicken thighs into bite sized pieces, and mix together the dashi, sake, soy sauce and sugar in a bowl. Break the whole eggs into a jug or bowl and beat them until thoroughly combined but not foamy.
- Pour your broth mixture and the sliced onions into a frying pan on a medium heat. Allow the liquid to come to a boil then reduce the heat until simmering and add in the chicken pieces. Let the chicken cook for two minutes if you fried it earlier or three to four minutes if you’re using it raw. Meanwhile, portion out the hot rice into four serving bowls.
- When the meat is fully cooked, pour the beaten eggs over the chicken and broth mixture and gently swirl the pan to distribute it evenly. Place the lid on your pan and allow the eggs to simmer for a minute or two, just enough time for them to lightly set at the bottom and sides but remain runny in the middle.
- Divide the contents of the pan over the bowls of rice and top each portion with a tangle of finely sliced spring onions and if you’re using them, a raw egg yolk for added richness.
Serves 4 people.