Comfort Food

This Bowl of Japanese Comfort Food Can Be On Your Table in 20

March  6, 2017

Chicken: check. Eggs: check. Rice: check. Salty, savory, slurp-worthy sauce: check. On the table in less than twenty minutes: check! All clear for a weeknight dinner worthy of a regular spot in the rotation.

A popular Japanese dish, both in restaurants and homes, oyako don (spelled elsewhere as one word, oyakodon) translates to "parent and child rice bowl," a reference to the two main ingredients, chicken and egg.

...But which came first? No, no, no, that's not what this is about!

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Back to the food: With an ingredient list you can count on two hands (or, with a well-stocked pantry, two fingers), you'll have a bowl of chicken-y goodness you before that Podcast you just put on is even over.

A few notes:

  • This recipe (an early-years Food52 favorite!) serves two and has you cook in batches—one bowl, then the next—so that you can customize and season to your liking, but you can also go ahead and cook everything together in one pot.
  • If you can't find mirin, our weeknight-dinner-expert-of-yore Jenny used sherry with success. ("If you’re going to make this and have time to plan ahead, however," she says, "get the Mirin.")
  • Garnish with chopped scallions or chives, if you like.
  • And for added richness, J. Kenji López-Alt says you can use 4 eggs, reserving 2 of the yolks. Add one yolk to each plated bowl right before you dig in.

Now here's the plan:

Pick up the following from the grocery store:

  • 2 chicken thighs (you can also use breasts, but the flavor won't be as poultry-prominent)
  • 4 tablespoons chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons sake
  • 2 tablespoons Mirin (sweet cooking sake)
  • White or brown rice (if you won't have time to cook rice, you can even find frozen, cooked rice at some stores: bingo!)

That list is assuming you have: 1 onion, 3 eggs, sugar, and soy sauce. If you don't add those to your list.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“I found that good Mirin is hard to find lately but you can buy it online. I found Sake in a good wine store. I use reduced salt soy sauce and it’s still wonderful. Thank you for writing this recipe! It’s life preserving in these troubled times.”
— Bev

About 20 minutes before you want to eat, start cooking your rice. Next, cut the chicken thighs (or breasts) into bite-sized pieces. Peel 1 onion and slice it thinly. Beat together 3 eggs. In a small bowl, whisk together 4 tablespoons of chicken stock, with 2 tablespoons each of sake, sugar, and mirin. Add 5 tablespoons of soy sauce and you're onto the cooking part.

Now you're 10 minutes away! (Here's the point where you can split up the ingredients and make the portions one at a time or cook both servings at once.) Pour the chicken stock mixture into a small pan and bring it to a boil. Then add the chicken and the onion slices and simmer until the meat is cooked, 5 to 7 minutes. Then add beaten eggs, cover the pan, and simmer until the eggs are cooked but still soft, 40 seconds-ish.

Scoop rice into two bowls. Top with chicken and egg mixture. Spoon directly into mouth.

But seriously: Which came first?! Say "chicken" or "egg" in the comments below!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • SuzieQ
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SuzieQ July 18, 2023
I make katsu-don, a similar dish. You get a bit of contrasting texture which adds to the dish, in my opinion. This is easier if you’re in hurry or don’t want the extra step of making chicken katsu first. Either way, it IS comfort food!
Bev April 8, 2022
I make this at least once a week. I found that good Mirin is hard to find lately but you can buy it online. I found Sake in a good wine store. I use reduced salt soy sauce and it’s still wonderful. Thank you for writing this recipe! It’s life preserving in these troubled times.
Tamara B. April 9, 2018
Dashi stock taste a bit better than chicken. Think thats more origenal but not sure.
Mado M. April 25, 2018
Yes. In the version of this recipe in the Lucky Peach cookbook (Oyakodon) there is a small amount of Dashi. Otherwise exactly the same and delicious.
Jeffro November 26, 2017
Annie September 5, 2017
Tom - the instructions say to cut chicken into bite size pieces. Based on this - I assume boneless pieces.
Tom September 5, 2017
Are you guys sure 5-7 min. are enough time to cook a bone-in chicken????
I know it's cut into bite size pieces....however since it's cooked bone-in, I'm afraid it's gonna turn out rare...
Cattledog1 August 10, 2017
What kind of onion did people use...sweet or yellow?
Annie March 14, 2017
I had something similar to this in Japan but they put a piece of Katsu (fried pork cutlet) instead of the chicken. It was amazing.
piggledy March 13, 2017
This makes a delightful breakfast (or dinner!). I have always steamed it, however, and it has included quartered button mushrooms. Delicious, and so easy to prepare!! (Enough of the silly comments about answers to which came first, please. More ideas about the dish in question, anyone??)
Jeff W. March 13, 2017
Chicken, God created the animals not their embryo's. Genesis 1:20
Joan March 12, 2017
Egg. A prechicken can lay a chicken egg (mutated) but a prechicken egg won't mutate into a chicken, although I suppose it could have been irradiated by alien eyes or sunspots ... ok I don't know. Maybe both ... but I still think egg.

Real question is can you recommend substitute for sake?
CoffeeAndBaconYum March 12, 2017
Mirin, Japanese rice cooking wine, can be substituted for sake. Can be ordered online or found in Asian section of grocery store. Aji-mirin brand works well & is commonly used for everyday cooking with good results. Yaegaki mirin can be found in wine section; it's more expensive but is a higher quality wine.
Joan March 12, 2017
Egg -- an almost chicken can lay a mutated egg that becomes a chicken but an almost chicken egg will never mutate into an actual chicken.

More important is there a substitute for sake?
Sarah J. March 12, 2017
Hi Joan, I would try Chinese rice wine or dry sherry. If you don't have or can't find those either, perhaps dilute some rice wine vinegar with water or with white grape juice? (I'd do 1 1/2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar and 4 1/2 teaspoons water or juice.)
Элла Э. March 6, 2017
An egg, because dinosaurs already laid eggs before birds as a class evolved.
Jeffro March 6, 2017
Those little fossils they found in Canada didn't look like they were into laying eggs, so I'm gonna say chicken (It does really depend on how far back you are going).
Lynn D. March 6, 2017
I always add a few fresh shitake mushrooms to mine