My stomach was grumbling and growling as I stepped out of the crowded elevator . I looked down with slight embarrassment, hoping no one else recognized the hungry culprit. Good thing it was lunch time. Any second longer I think I’d die of hunger.
I gave the waiter the name, and he guided us rather swiftly to our table next to the window. Little China teacups was laid out filled with hot water, dainty chopsticks and napkins was placed in the front of each of us. From my seat, I pressed my small little face against the clear glass window beside me curious to see the traffic below. It was lunch hour in Wanchai (one of the busiest areas in Hong Kong) and from my view I could barely make out the fast moving”blobs” of black and white dots 20 floors down below me.
Time to order. I was filled with excitement, because I was finally allowed to order my own personal meal without having to share with my twin sister. My parents let us do that occasionally when we went out and when I had a big enough appetite to finish all my food – which seemed pretty evident today! My 14 year old little mind scanned through the blur of miniature Chinese figures on the large menu trying to decide what to fill my tummy. No pictures, no descriptions. This would be a challenge. Somehow I managed to make out the words “mackerel” and remembered the delicious looking grilled fish on the glass display outside the restaurant. That sounded delicious. I smiled and smirked, wiggling in my seat in anticipation for food.
Seconds, minutes and hours seem to be tick by. Finally I saw the first signs of absolute glory and delight- MY FOOD was coming! The waiter carefully arranged a bowl of steamed white rice, a piece of char-grilled mackerel, tofu miso soup and yellow pickled daikon right in front of me. Ooo..this was so exciting for me. I looked over to see that my mum had ordered the same thing. I gave myself a pat on the back, feeling like a sophisticated adult because I ordered what my mum loved – “grilled fish”. I look at my sister’s simple choice of chicken and egg donburi, and gave myself another pat on the back – MY MEAL seemed to look better.
I took one bite of my fish. It was delicious. I handed my sister a piece of my fish so she could try how good this is. I watched her take a bite waiting for her reaction. She smiled and said it was delicious.
“But…” she said “mines is even better.”
I looked at her in disbelief. How could my beautiful fish compare to her simple chicken and egg mixed together? Impossible.
She scooped a large spoonful of her chicken and egg and shoved it into my mouth.
My grin disappeared when the tender chicken, soft runny egg with sweet broth hit my tongue.
She was right. IT WAS AMAZING. INCREDIBLE. FLAVORFUL. SOFT.
I hated to admit it but hers tasted so much better.
Seeing my reaction she kindly offered to share hers with me. My pride wouldn’t let me take up her offer (event though she could see it written all over my face). I gobbled down the fish without another word and left the restaurant promising myself I would ALWAYS order this chicken and egg dish next time we came.
SO there. That is my childhood story of how I first fell in love with one of the simplest Japanese famous dishes – Oyakodon.
That experience was rather unromantic, and childish, but definitely a defining and “memorable” moment. I’m surprised I still remember. Maybe it was the embarrassment or the regret that wouldn’t allow me to let this memory go…but one thing I do know – Oyakodon is REALLY good. It may sound ordinary, but the combination of the broth, egg, chicken is rather magical.
Peering into my fridge, I could see a carton of eggs and a bag chicken thighs – a smile spread on my face…this could mean one thing: oyakodon! It really is the easiest, most delicious thing ever AND I get to eat a whole pan of it.
The first bite into the succulent chicken coated in warm runny eggs, drenched in that soy sauce dashi broth…ohhh my goodness..it was so good.
Every time I surprise myself at how good this really is. I think I fell in love with it again.
Adapted from Justonecookbook
- 2 Chicken Thighs
- 1/2 white onion, sliced
- 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp GF Soy Sauce
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 cup Dashi Stock (Homemade OR approximately 1 cup water + 1 1/3 tsp dashi powder)
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- Garnish: 1 green onion, finely chopped, toasted nori seaweed, toasted sesame seeds
How to Make:
- Trim off the skin and fat from the chicken. Chop the chicken into small bite-size pieces.
- In a non-stick skillet, bring the apple cider vinegar over to boil.
- Add in dashi, sugar, soy sauce and allow the mixture to reach to boil again.
- Spread onions over the pan and arrange the chicken carefully on top.
- Cover and bring to a gentle simmer. Allow the chicken and onions to simmer until just cooked through (7-10 minutes: depending on your stove and the size of your chicken). If the flame/pan is too hot, just lower the heat to medium low, as you are cooking. Watch the pan carefully.
- Slowly and carefully DRIZZLE the beaten eggs over the chicken, distributing it across the pan evenly. Cover with a side and allow the egg to cook and set – this will take 2 minutes.
- Turn off heat. Sprinkle with green onions. Serve with nori and sesame seed topped rice/cauliflower rice.
How to Serve:
Traditional Method: Oyakodon (親子丼) although has Japanese origins actually has a Chinese Name meaning: “Parent and Egg Rice Bowl”. It is meant to be a rather poetic, sophisticated description/name for a Chicken and egg rice bowl. Like many other Japanese “Donburi” Or “Rice Bowls” that you can find on their menus, this is a one-meal dish that can be easily made. Other famous donburis include toppings of beef, salmon roe, or sashimi. It is extremely versatile can be found at home and in restaurants, hence its popularity.
Our Suggestions: I love love oyakadon! It is very easy, therefore it is important to follow some these suggestions: My key tip is 1) not to exclude the onions because they have so much flavor and suck all the sweet-fragrant in the pan; 2) do not overcook the eggs – you want soft, slightly undercooked eggs for this dish; 3) Serve it immediately with rice/quinoa/cauliflower rice.
Dashi Stock Substitute: Chicken Broth
Paleo: Coconut Aminos in place of soy sauce
Apple Cider Vinegar Substitute: This is my non-alcoholic substitute for mirin, which you can substitute in with equal quantities. I have found it works extremely well in Japanese dishes and it has never failed me so far! Some groceries stores also sell specifically non-alcoholic mirin. I haven’t tried this before but I am sure this will work as well.
Honey Substitute: I would suggest using half the amount for regular sugar, and the same amount if using palm/coconut sugar (which is less sweet). Please do taste test, because I have not tried using either yet!
Chicken Thigh Substitute: Use Chicken Thighs because they add so much more flavor to the dish. But…if it really is impossible breast will also be fine – keeping in mind that you don’t want it to become rubbery and overcooked so watch the flame and cooking time carefully!
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