Frugal Recipe of the Week: Oyako-don

My family loves Asian foods and Asian flavors, and one of our favorite meals is Oyako-don, or chicken and egg donburi. Donburi are Japanese home-style meals consisting of a savory topping served over rice in a bowl. When we lived in Japan many years ago, my all time favorite “fast food” was donburi, especially katsu-don (fried pork cutlet) and gyu-don (thinly sliced beef).  They were inexpensive, filling and extremely tasty!  Donburi is actually the word for the lidded bowl that these meals are served in, but has now come to represent this style of cooking in all its many varieties. Basically, anything served over rice in a bowl can be donburi.  Donburi run the gamut from costly to inexpensive depending on the ingredients chosen, and one of the most well-liked (and least expensive) of all donburi is oyako-don.  Oyako means “parent (oya) and child (ko)” and refers to the chicken and egg that are the primary ingredients.

Although thigh meat is preferred for this recipe because of its flavor, I use pieces of chicken tenderloin that I buy frozen in a bag from Trader Joes and they work fine.  At $6.99 per bag, I only need around 1/2 of the tenderloins to make this for the five of us.  Dashi (Japanese  fish stock) is crucial for creating the authentic flavor of the dish.  I buy instant dashi in packets at our local Asian supermarket, and only need to use 1/2 tsp or so at a time when preparing the cooking sauce.  A box of dashi packets lasts a long time!

This meal comes together very quickly.  I prepare the rice first in my trusty rice cooker, and the topping cooks up in less than 10 minutes.  I make Japanese-style sticky white rice (pearl or short grain) for the rest of the family, and have my topping over brown rice.  I usually serve oyako-don with Japanese-style marinated cucumbers.

(Photo credit to Japanese Cooking 101. My oyako-don never looks this pretty!)

OYAKO-DON (serves 4-5)

6 cups hot cooked rice

8 oz. chicken thigh or tenderloin, cut into thin, bite-sized pieces

6 eggs, lightly beaten

1 medium onion, cut in half and thinly sliced

Cooking broth: 1 cup dashi stock (add 1 tsp dashi powder to 1cup water and bring to a low boil and cook until powder is completely dissolved); 2 tsp sugar; 5 TBSP soy sauce; 5 TBSP mirin (sweet rice wine for cooking; can be found in Asian markets or Asian food section of the supermarket)

2-3 green onions, thinly sliced, green tops included (optional)

In a large skillet with a lid, blend together cooking broth ingredients and bring to a boil.  Add onion slices and chicken slices.  Heat until cooked (this only takes about 3-4 minutes).  Spread chicken and onion evenly throughout the pan.  Gently swirl in the beaten eggs, and let the eggs partially set, about 1 or 2 minutes. Immediately remove the pan from the heat, cover and let steam for 2 more minutes (the eggs will finish setting).  Put 1 1/2 cups hot rice in each serving bowl and top with chicken and egg mixture.  Sliced green onions can be added if desired for garnish.

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Filed under Frugal Recipe of the Week, Recipes

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