What Is Oyakodon?

Amanda R. Bell

Oyakodon is a Japanese rice bowl dish consisting of chicken and eggs. The dish includes a sauce and relies mostly on hot rice to cook or set the eggs. One of many different rice bowl dishes, popular spinoffs of oyakodon include tanindon and sake oyakodon. It is commonly served in soba restaurants, fast-food-style establishments, and Japanese households.

A little sake is sometimes added to oyakodon.
A little sake is sometimes added to oyakodon.

This dish is a type of donburi, or rice bowl, which is served throughout Japan. The word oyakodon translates roughly into English as “parent and child,” noting the inclusion of chicken, as the parent, and eggs, as the child, in the same dish. The meat, eggs, and sauce are cooked together and served over a bowl of very hot, freshly-cooked white rice.

Sake oyakodon is a variation of oyakodon that includes salmon.
Sake oyakodon is a variation of oyakodon that includes salmon.

To prepare as a single meal, dark or white meat chicken chunks are browned in a hot skillet, and soy sauce mixed with dashi, a Japanese cooking stock, and mirin, also known as rice wine, is then poured over the chicken to finish the cooking process. In some cases, a small amount of sake, an alcohol made from rice, or Japanese-style parsley are added. Once the chicken is cooked through, beaten eggs are poured over top of the mixture while it is still in the skillet. As soon as the eggs begin to set around the edges of the pan, though still slightly runny in the center, the contents are poured out in a sheet over top of hot rice. The temperature of the rice continues to cook the egg mixture, and the chicken, eggs, and sauce cover the top of the rice until eaten.

The combination of eggs and chicken and the resulting name of the dish is considered a running joke in Japanese cuisine. A popular spinoff of this dish is known as tanindon, which translates to "stranger bowl." This dish replaces the chicken with beef and is served with eggs in the same manner. A seafood version is sake oyakodon, which includes salmon and salmon eggs served over hot rice.

Oyakodon is served in a variety of Japanese establishments. Soba restaurants often serve oyakodon as an alternative to the standard noodle dishes. It is highly popular at lunchtime, as it is quick to prepare and eat, a high priority for Japanese businessmen and women. As this meal is so easy to make, it is often served by street vendors alongside other varieties of donburi in addition to Japanese fast food restaurants.

Outside of restaurants, this dish is a popular lunch and dinner item served in Japanese households. It uses ingredients typically kept on hand at home, making it a budget-friendly meal. The dish is easy to make for both small and large groups, and can be customized for each person’s individual preference.

Oyakodon is common Japanese dish.
Oyakodon is common Japanese dish.

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