Oyakodon, sometimes called Oyako donburi, is one of the most famous Japanese rice bowl dishes worldwide. It is the go-to dish for many people in Japan since it is convenient, delicious, nutritious, and affordable.
Donburi or 'don' is a rice dish consisting of a mixture of meat, seafood, egg, and vegetables simmered in a sweet soy sauce broth. However, this recipe is just an egg and chicken version of donburi.
"Oyako" means parent and child, while "don” or “donburi" means bowl. So, the name of the dish literally means parent and child bowl. If you still don't get it, the chicken is the parent, while the egg is the child. The dish also has many other names like chicken don, chicken donburi, and oyako donburi.
We have come up with a quick and easy chicken and egg donburi recipe so you can try this famous dish at home. A lot of research has also been done to make it as authentic as possible!
However, this recipe is still super customisable and allows alternatives for hard-to-get ingredients without jeopardising its taste. For example, you can make it without dashi or make it vegetarian using vegetarian options. Furthermore, you can also include seafood such as salmon instead of making chicken oyakodon. Continue reading to make your own delectable donburi bowl!
What is Oyakodon?
Oyako donburi is a Japanese dish made from bite-sized chicken pieces, onions, and egg over rice. The ingredients are usually simmered in a soy-based broth or dashi stock before being served over a bowl of hot rice. Like steak donburi, this chicken and egg bowl is one of the many variations of this rice dish.
Interestingly, donburi was a delivery-only food item from a Tokyo chicken restaurant in 1887. Nowadays, it is available even for dine-in and has become a classic comfort food in many Japanese households. This is because it is easy to make and only requires simple, accessible ingredients.
Despite its simplicity, the chicken and egg rice bowl is also super delicious, highly filling and satisfying. So it is no wonder it is a favourite dish of many across the nation, amongst both adults and children.
Furthermore, our protein-packed Japanese donburi has only about 490 calories per serving. Hence, it is the perfect healthy meal you can enjoy for lunch and dinner.
Oyakodon vs Katsudon
"Oyako" refers to chicken and egg, while "Katsu" in Katsudon stands for "katsuretsu" meat cutlet. Thus, the main difference between Oyako donburi and Katsu donburi is the type of meat used. The former uses bite-size chicken thigh pieces, whereas the latter typically contains breaded and fried pork cutlets. Due to the additional breading and deep frying steps of making katsuretsu, the chicken and egg bowl is slightly easier to make than Katsudon.
Despite the differences, the two dishes are similar since Katsudon also consists of eggs over rice. Both dishes are also go-to orders for many Japanese workers during lunchtime. Hence, we can say that both dishes are considered Japanese fast food. But they are much healthier than a typical Japanese hamburger meal.
Here’s our video recipe on how to make Katsudon at home using an oven:
What does Oyakodon taste like?
This chicken and egg rice bowl mainly taste sweet and salty due to the mix of soy sauce and sugar within the broth. It also has a hint of savouriness, making it the perfect dish to satisfy your palate. Now, combine those with juicy chicken pieces and a warm egg blanketing the hot rice. No wonder it is one of the most popular donburi with snaking queues outside restaurants. It has everything you need in a bowl!
To make this Japanese chicken rice bowl recipe, you will only need the following:
These are the main ingredients you will need to make the dish. However, feel free to add more elements to the plate for a more flavourful chicken and egg rice bowl.
The chicken will be the dish's star, so you'll want to use the best chicken available. We highly recommend using fresh chicken for the best taste.
Avoid using frozen chicken for our recipe when possible. This is because frozen chicken has an altered meat structure due to the ice crystals piercing the flesh in the freezing process. As a result, the chicken meat will be less juicy when you slowly cook it. Therefore, it is better to go with fresh chicken for more succulent chicken pieces in your don.
Regarding chicken parts, we suggest using skin-on-thigh meat as it will contribute some fat to the oyako donburi sauce. Besides that, the skin-on-thigh part is more flavourful than chicken breast since it yields the juiciest and most tender results. Moreover, the chicken thigh is less prone to overcooking, especially when cooked in small bite-sized pieces.
However, if you prefer to use chicken breast, make sure to cook it for a shorter amount of time. You only need to cook breast meat for 2-3 minutes over medium heat. On the other hand, chicken thighs may take over 5 minutes to cook through. Be careful not to overcook the breast or it will become dry and tough.
Seafood and Vegetarian Alternatives
Besides making chicken and egg bowls, you can also make salmon oyakodon which tastes just as amazing. Swap the eggs and chicken with salmon fillets and roe instead, and you'll get a tasty seafood rice bowl.
Other than that, you can also make vegetarian oyakodon by using ingredients like tofu, mushrooms, broccoli, and vegetarian meat substitute. It is possible to make it vegan with a few tweaks and swaps since this recipe is highly versatile.
Most Japanese dishes include raw eggs, and of course, this rice bowl dish is one of them. The eggs in oyakodon are only partially boiled for this dish. Some restaurants may also serve it with a raw egg yolk.
We highly recommend getting high-quality eggs if you want to make the dish as good as possible. To clarify, high-quality eggs here mean ones that have undergone a process of sterilisation that helps reduce the risk of bacteria seeping into the egg.
Most importantly, you must ensure that it is safe to eat partially cooked or raw eggs. While most if not all Japanese eggs are safe to eat raw, it’s best to bear in mind a few pointers when handling raw eggs for those not in Japan.
First of all, do not eat eggs raw especially if they have been sitting out of their shell for more than a few minutes. So, only crack the eggs before you are about to cook or serve them. Lastly, avoid eating eggs raw if the shell has fallen into it. By doing these things, you minimise the risk of bacteria getting into your raw eggs and causing a stomach ache.
As for the portion, cooks usually use two eggs per serving. The eggs will bind the rest of the ingredients while the sauce simmer. As a result, the cooked dish will be able to slide smoothly onto the bed of steamed rice.
Onions significantly contribute to the flavours and aroma of this rice bowl dish. We prefer sweet onions, which are a variety of onions that are sweeter and more tender. You should use sweet onions to add sweetness to your oyako donburi. Otherwise, yellow or white onions will work just fine in making the dish.
The best type of rice for the dish is Japanese short-grain rice. It has a sticky, firm texture, making it easy to pick up with chopsticks. Alternatively, you can use Italian or Korean short-grain rice since they have a similar sticky texture.
You can use long-grain rice such as Jasmine rice or Basmati rice. However, they do not pair well with Japanese dishes like oyakodon since they lack moisture and don't stick together. Plus, long-grain rice takes longer to cook than short-grain rice.
If you want a halal non-alcoholic substitute, you can use apple cider vinegar instead. Although it may not be the perfect replication of sake it will still give an excellent taste to your dish.
You can stick to the sliced scallions, but we suggest using mitsuba to garnish your chicken donburi. Mitsuba is a Japanese wild parsley that tastes slightly like celery but somewhat bitter. However, it gives off a refreshing flavour and is often used in Japanese dishes like donburi and chawanmushi. It doesn't make a massive difference to the taste of the dish, but it would surely make it more authentic.
Alternatively, you can also use regular parsley or even celery leaves to substitute mitsuba. These substitutes are more common outside of Japan.
Many restaurants use their own dashi (Japanese soup stock) that’s made from simmering a mixture of vegetables, seafood, soy sauce, sake or mirin, and sugar over a long period of time. However, for home cooks like us, you can save time and get a more convenient instant dashi broth from any Asian supermarket. But remember that instant dashi broth can be fishier and saltier than homemade dashi. Therefore, we recommend making the broth from scratch if you want control over the flavour.
How to make Oyakodon without dashi
While many recipes incorporate dashi as part of the sauce, you can make oyako donburi without dashi. As mentioned, the recipe is super adjustable, so feel free to follow our oyakodon recipe without dashi. No worries, the broth can be made with several other ingredients!
You can ditch the dashi and make the broth with only soy sauce, sake or mirin, and sugar. Dashi is the main contributor to the umami flavour of the dish. However, you can still retain some of the umami flavours with these ingredients.
You would want the broth to have an ideal balance between sweet and salty. To achieve this, you will need exactly two tablespoons of soy sauce and sake or mirin. Ensure that you also use precisely two teaspoons of sugar for the perfect level of sweetness.
Other than that, you can also make the broth using your preferred vegetable or chicken stock. These are great alternatives for those who dislike the dashi flavour, which can be too salty and fishy. That said, using vegetable or chicken broth will make the donburi taste milder than the original recipe. The dish will still be delicious but would take on a savoury vegetable or chicken flavour instead.
Using an Oyakodon Pan
In Japan, cooks use a special ladle-like pan known as "Oyako-nabe" or oyakodon pan to prepare the dish. For those serious about making the dish, you'd want to get the pan for the best results. The non-stick surface and design of the pan will help you to easily slide the dish without breaking the layers, especially when transferring them to the bowl.
Unfortunately, this cooking utensil is expensive and can only be used for a single serving of dishes such as this chicken and egg rice bowl. Therefore, it is only worth the money if you plan to use it frequently.
However, this special pan is not required in our oyako donburi recipe. Our chicken and egg recipe is hassle-free, so it won't be fatal even if you make it in a small frying pan. Make sure the frying pan is slope-sided so you can easily transfer the dish into a bowl. Ideally, the pan should also be the same size or smaller than your serving bowl.
Don't overbeat your eggs
While this tip does not make a difference in texture or flavour, we firmly believe that we eat with our eyes first! So, beat your eggs lightly until it reaches a consistency that strongly contrasts the white and yellow parts. If you overbeat the eggs, your donburi will end up looking just yellow, hence, missing out on its signature white-yellow colours.
Instead of beating the eggs, cut the egg whites a few times using a pair of chopsticks. Then, lift the egg whites to break them up into small clumps. Doing so will prevent them from falling into the frying pan simultaneously. Basically, you'd want the egg whites and yolks to be broken apart but not blended together. If your eggs look like a marble pattern, then you're doing it right.
Add your eggs at intervals
Oyakodon is usually served with a fluffy bottom egg layer and a slightly runny top egg layer. To achieve this, make sure to add the egg to the simmering chicken at two separate times.
Firstly, add ⅔ of the eggs to the centre of the pan. Ensure there are more egg whites, as they take longer to cook than the yolks. Furthermore, eggs cook faster when they are already at room temperature. Also, avoid pouring the eggs into the edges where they will get easily overcooked. After about 1-2 minutes, add the remaining ⅓ of the egg to the entire surface of the pan.
Use a small skillet for single serving
We recommend making one portion at a time for the best results. This is because you don't want to mess up the soft and smooth egg for the dish. This likely happens when one makes several portions in one go. Hence, it is best to use a small skillet for a single dish serving.
If you make multiple servings in a large pan, there are high chances of your chicken donburi being too runny. This is because the ingredients will overcrowd the pan, and the broth will not evaporate efficiently. Plus, the ingredients will also take a long time to cook. You will also have to scoop the dish out of the large pan and break the layers of ingredients.
Add smaller amount of broth
The dish is not meant to be runny or soupy. Therefore, ensure not to put too much broth into the dish when trying to achieve its thick texture. Too much broth can also cause the other ingredients to become mushy and soggy. On the other hand, you may add more if you think the dish is too dry. Note that less sauce doesn't necessarily mean the dish won't taste good! In fact, evaporation will intensify the flavour of the dish.
How to avoid bland taste
One trick to make the oyakodon more flavourful is to cut your chicken thinner. Big chicken pieces are more prone to separate from other ingredients, but smaller pieces blend well with them.
We recommend using the "sogigiri" cutting technique, which calls for slicing the meat at an angle. This Japanese technique will help you slice them thinner at equal thickness. In addition, this method also creates more surface area to allow better absorption of flavours and faster cooking. It is best to cut your chicken into 2cm small pieces.
Apart from having thinner cuts, you can also marinate the chicken with soy sauce and sake or mirin overnight. We also recommend browning or searing the chicken pieces first to lock the flavours in. This will give your chicken donburi the most flavourful meat. Just follow these three tricks we taught you to achieve the juiciest chicken pieces!
You can also add more ingredients to the oyako donburi for more flavour. Ingredients like cabbage, edamame, and shiitake mushrooms add flavour and texture to the dish.
Another method to prevent your chicken don from being too bland is to use a stronger dashi. If you're making dashi from scratch, ditch the sugar to achieve a more robust flavour.
Storing and making it in advance
Chicken donburi leftovers can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for about 2-3 days. When storing you must ensure that the chicken and eggs are separate from the rice. Otherwise, the rice will soak up the sauce and get soggy.
Once you're ready to eat it again, just reheat the leftovers in the microwave until it is hot. We suggest adding a little water before reheating to keep the dish moist.
You can also prepare your don in advance. Just cook the chicken and eggs in advance and store them in the fridge. Similarly, you can also prepare the broth and keep it in the refrigerator. Once ready to eat, just cook the rice and assemble the dish.
- Cook the rice with less water as it will later absorb the broth and juices from the egg and chicken. Otherwise, the rice might become too mushy.
- Unless you want to cook the eggs fully, let the dish cook uncovered. Doing so will allow excess moisture to evaporate and make your sauce more flavourful.
- You can fry the chicken skin separately until crispy beforehand and proceed with the recipe. The best thing is you can use the crispy fried chicken skin for garnishing later!
How do you eat Oyakodon?
Oyako donburi is usually served hot in a large bowl with eggs and chicken topping a bed of rice. It is often garnished with scallions and nori sheets, but you can also add soy sauce to taste.
Some people enjoy it as a side dish with other Japanese dishes, while some make it the main dish. We think it pairs well with miso soup and hot green tea.
To get the most flavour from the dish, try eating it from the bottom up or mixing everything! In fact, this is how Japanese people enjoy their chicken donburi. Doing so allows the sauce and toppings to combine with the steamed rice without leaving any part unflavoured.
Oyakodon Recipe (Chicken and Egg Donburi)
- Make the seasoning mix by adding dashi, soy sauce, mirin, and sugar in a small bowl. Mix them all together until the sugar is dissolved, and set aside. Then, cut the chicken thigh into ¾ to 1 inch wide along the grain. Next, angle your knife back and diagonally before slicing the chicken strips into ¾ to 1-inch squares. Transfer the chicken to a tray, drizzle sake over them, and set aside for 5 minutes.
- Crack the eggs into a bowl. Then, lift the egg whites with chopsticks to cut them into smaller clumps. Avoid blending the egg whites and the yolks. Instead, poke the yolks gently to break them until a marble pattern is formed.
- Add the sliced onions to a small pan and let them lay in a single layer. Then, add in the seasoning mixture. Afterwards, turn on the heat to medium and let it simmer. Once it is simmering, add the chicken pieces to the pan. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for 4-5 minutes or until the chicken meat turns light brown.
- Increase the heat to medium and let the sauce simmer until bubbles are around the edges. Then, drizzle ⅔ of the eggs in a circular pattern over the chicken and onions. Do not pour at the edges of the pan. Once the first batch is slightly set, add the rest of the eggs to the pan. Try to distribute the egg yolk to give the dish a bright yellow colour on top.
- Prepare steamed rice in a serving bowl and slide the cooked dish onto it. Drizzle some sauce onto the dish and sprinkle some chopped mitsuba before serving.
- The weight of the chicken thigh might vary, but you will only need one chicken thigh per serving.
- You can follow this oyako donburi recipe without dashi and substitute it with other ingredients like vegetable or chicken stock. Please refer to the 'How to make oyakodon without dashi' section for more details.
- You can substitute sake with rice wine vinegar mixed with water or dry sherry. Use apple cider vinegar as a non-alcoholic alternative.
Calories have been calculated using an online calculator. Nutritional information offered on Honest Food Talks is for general information purposes and are only rough estimations.
Have you tried this recipe? Share your reviews and feedback with us on Instagram @honestfoodtalks and be sure to follow us there for more tasty recipes!