I don’t have an interesting story to tell about Oyako-Don. All you need to know is that this Japanese chicken and egg dish is delicious and easy. Oyako means “parent and child” which also strikes my morbid fancy. Don is a shortened form of “donburi” or bowl. One of my favorite comfort foods is a steamed savory egg custard made with chicken broth and I loved it mixed into hot rice. My mom thought eggs were good for my brain, so I ate this before I took my SATs and such. Oyako-don, though still humble, is its fancier cousin.
Now, there are a lot of recipes that call for onion, mirin, sake, and other things you might not have on hand. Don’t be discouraged. Yes, your dish will taste different, but it doesn’t mean that it won’t taste good. The Food Culture police aren’t going to show up at your door and write you a ticket. If you have chicken, broth, and eggs, then the world is your bento box.
A lot of recipes said that chicken stock could be substituted with dashi stock, but I wanted the best of both worlds –blasphemy!—and mixed a little dashi powder into the chicken stock. While Bento.com’s recipe didn’t specifically call for sake, I added a tablespoon of Chinese rice wine for kicks and giggles. The result is a fragrant, aromatic flavor overflowing with umami goodness.
But my favorite part about this recipe is that it’s not one of those intensely time pressure recipes, but something that unfolds while you’re listening to a podcast and daydreaming. While the broth is simmering, you can cut up the chicken and onions. While the chicken and onions are cooking, you can beat the eggs lazily – you white the whites and yolks to be a little separate –, then drizzle gently mixed eggs and watch them puff up like clouds! Serve over hot rice!
YIELDS: Two servings. Perfect for a dinner for two or dinner and leftovers!
ADAPTED from Bento.com
NOTES: This recipe calls for light and dark soy sauce. According to Serious Eats, light soy sauce has a more intense flavor than dark soy sauce. Not sure if it’s technically accurate, but my mother always used Memmi Noodle Soup Base for a “light” soy sauce and the ingredients include soy sauce, rice vinegar, and bonito.
2 chicken drumsticks, or roughly two handfuls of raw chicken, cut into bite size pieces
2 scallions, or the equivalent in slivered onions
Cooked Rice (If you don’t have a rice cooker, I really like this recipe.)
3 tablespoons of light soy sauce
2 tablespoons of dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 tablespoon of shaoxing wine or sake
½ teaspoon of instant dashi (I use this one, but MSG is the first ingredient.)
1 cup of chicken broth (easily cut it down to ¾ cup)
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the sauce ingredients and bring to a gentle boil. While the sauce is cooking, slice your chicken into bite size pieces. Simmer uncovered for about five minutes. Then add the onions and cook for a minute longer. Lastly, turn up the heat to medium, and gently drizzle the eggs. Wait until the egg bubbles around the edges and puffs up. You don’t want to cook the eggs until they’re hard.
Ladle over hot rice and enjoy! Bon appetit!