Alright – this recipe comes with a caveat. No looking at the picture until you read the recipe. It’s the Japanese food equivalent of trying to photograph baked beans, or scrambled eggs. Hard to make it look appealing!
It’s basically eggs, chicken, onions, and Japanese flavourings on a bed of rice. A good weekday meal that I can make quickly, though it does require a few Japanese ingredients (of the kind that you can’t substitute for, sorry!).
Also, the recipe is one of the Japanese basics of home cooking. It’s from a basic cookbook I picked up in Japan called ‘Single cooking’. I was very excited when I learned this phrase on my last trip – given how many Japanese live in small apartments on their own, there’s a whole lot of cookbooks focused on basic home cooking for one. Perfect for me both in portion size, and in finding cookbooks that deal with basic home cooking. And I’ve saved you the translation!
50g chicken thighs, cutinto strips (that’s the Japanese measurement! Try one boneless, chicken skinless, thigh)
1/4 onion, sliced lengthwise
2 eggs, lightly whisked
1/2 cup dashi stock
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp cooking sake*
1 tsp sugar
Note: I’ve made a double serving in the picture below, but the quantities above are for one serving.
Put the rice on.
Simmer the dashi, soy sauce, sake, and sugar in a nonstick frypan with the onions and chicken until the liquid is reduced to half its original volume (about 10 minutes).
Pour over the eggs and gently stir to combine. Turn off the heat, and stir 2-3 times until the egg is cooked.
Serve over rice.
*Fun Japanese cooking fact #1: Japanese food doesn’t tend to focus on gamey flavours. Sake and mirin (both alcoholic ingredients used in Japanese cooking) bring out the umami flavour, and reduce the gamey flavour of meats. This is why you usually see sake, mirin, onion, and ginger with meats like chicken in Japanese cooking. Maki from Just Hungry talks about it more here. She also gives some substitutes if you can’t source sake and mirin, but if you’re substituting ingredients for a dish that you’ve tasted in Japan, I think it’s fair to say that a substitute won’t cut it.
Fun Japanese cooking fact #2: There is a specific order to adding the five basics of Japanese cooking to a dish – sugar, salt, vinegar, soy sauce, and miso. For those of you who speak Japanese, it’s easy to remember, as there’s a mnemonic based on the the five moras that start with s – sa, shi, su, se, so. The reason is that you want to add flavours that are affected by heat – soy sauce and miso – last. Again, here’s the Just Hungry explanation.
This was taught to me by a friend who learned to cook from her Japanese mother-in-law. The kind of stuff you don’t usually get when you’re trying to replicate recipes!