Iron Chef Morimoto’s Oyako Don For Two

So this past week, I’d been trying to figure out how to make my wife happy for a Monday night dinner.  Perusing through Iron Chef Morimoto’s Mastering The Art Of Japanese Home Cooking, I spotted his version of Oyako Don (p. 67,68). I’d made a version of this dish once before from Tsuji’s “Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art” (p. 283), but my wife and I thought the dish was too wet/liquidy for our taste.  So when I announced to my wife I was going to be making oyako don again, she was extremely skeptical (even after I told her it was going to be Iron Chef Morimoto’s recipe).  Following Iron Chef Morimoto’s admonition, I had to prepare two orders of the following ingredients.  As a result I would have to use TWO pans to make the meal, one for me and one for her!

So a single order ingredient list would be –

1/3 c dashi/konbu dashi (1/3 c= 1/4 c + 1 T + 1 t==5 T + 1 t)
1 T + 1 t japanese soy sauce
1 T + 1 t mirin (my wife prefers just sake)
1/4 t sugar (my wife asked me to leave this out)
5 oz skinless/boneless chicken thighs (I used 6 oz here)
1 t toasted sesame oil
2 large eggs chopstick scrambled
1/4 bias sliced scallions white/light green parts (I finely diced these)
1 1/2 c cooked rice
pinch of kizame nori or 1/4 sushi nori cut into thin strips (I ran out of this (sigh))

To begin the preparations, I started out by making konbu dashi (since my wife requested a ‘lighter-tasting’ dish for dinner) –

Preparing konbu dashi

Preparing konbu dashi

and that was simply getting a sheet of konbu into a big pot of water (about 7-8 cups)

So I began by preparing the scallions, and since I was making two portions, I would need to bias mince 1/2 cup for both our

Scallions to be minced for the dish

Scallions to be minced for the dish

portions.

Got about that 1/2 cup

Got about that 1/2 cup

While I had that knife and board out, I got out the 3/4 lb (2 portions, don’t you know) of boneless skinless chicken thighs and

Slicing up 4 chicken thighs (12 oz - aabout 3 oz each)

Slicing up 4 chicken thighs (12 oz – aabout 3 oz each)

began to cut them into strip/shreds.  Finally when all the knife work was done, I turned my attention to two portions of

2 portions of the Sake/soy seasoning mix

2 portions of the Sake/soy seasoning mix

seasoning for the oyako don.  At this point, I was ready to start cooking. I got two small frying pans pre-heated and dropped 1

preheated pans getting their sesame oil (non-stick on the left, conventional All-Clad)

preheated pans getting their sesame oil (non-stick on the left, conventional All-Clad)

teaspoon of dark toasted sesame oil into to each.  Once I saw the oil shimmer, I added 1 portion of the shredded chicken to

searing the chicken for about 3 minutes to banish the pink outer surface

searing the chicken for about 3 minutes to banish the pink outer surface

each of the pans to quickly sear.  It’s interesting to note that I got the sizzle the moment the chicken hit the All-Clad but no sound from the non-stick.  Additionally, I found it took longer to cook the chicken to the point where there was no pink color in the non-stick pan.  So was the chicken was seared, I added 1/3 cup of konbu dashi to each pan and then the sake/soy

Adding the oyako don seasonings to the pan

Adding the oyako don seasonings to the pan

seasoning.  I suppose I could do the original recipe with the mirin – but I must say, I’ve noticed that mirin is usually sweet

pans at a simmer and ready for the eggs

pans at a simmer and ready for the eggs

enough; I personally don’t think the additional sugar is necessary.  While I was waiting for the pans to come to a simmer I

2 sets of eggs to be scrambled with chopsticks to be added to each pan

2 sets of eggs to be scrambled with chopsticks to be added to each pan

went and got 4 eggs into 2 bowl for scrambling.  When the pans were at a simmer, I carefully distributed the scrambled eggs

Addition of the eggs, waiting for them to set

Addition of the eggs, waiting for them to set

from each bowl into their respective pans so they would create an even layer for cooking.  Once the eggs were in the pan, I also

letting the oyako cook covered for about 8 minutes.

letting the oyako cook covered for about 8 minutes.

carefully tried to distribute the minced scallions around the top of the mixture and covered the pans, ajar.  I let the pans cook

jiggling the pan to make sure nothing sticks

jiggling the pan to make sure nothing sticks

at a simmer for about 8 minutes, periodically uncovering so that I could jiggle the pans to make sure the mixture wasn’t sticking to the cooking surface.  When everything was done, my wife helped out by getting some cooked rice (Iron Chef

Plating the oyako don

Plating the oyako don

Morimoto says about 1 1/2 cups of cooked rice per serving) into our Revol plates.  Then it was just matter of sliding the oyako out of the pans and over the rice.  Since I had run out of kizami nori and I had no more sushi nori left, I needed to improvise and thought to spike the dish with a sprinkle of ichimi togarashi (japanese chili pepper).

Morimoto Oyako Don With Ichimi Togarashi

Morimoto Oyako Don With Ichimi Togarashi

As an accompanying dish, my wife prepared a stir fry of button mushrooms, onions and bell peppers for the dinner. As we tasted Iron Chef Morimoto’s Oyako Don, my wife declared that she LOVED the dish.

I think there are two key observations regarding the differences between recipes from Tsuji and Morimoto. The first observation is that Iron Chef Morimoto uses 1/3 cup of broth per person compared to Tsuji’s 5/8 cup of broth per person.  Moreover, the recipe from Iron Chef Morimoto has a cooking time of at least 11 minutes whereas the Tsuji version 6 minutes+time for the eggs to set.  My sense is that Iron Chef Morimoto’s recipe takes time to reduce the broth in the pan.  The second observation is that the recipe from Iron Chef Morimoto uses double the amount of egg; suggesting that the eggs helped to absorb some of the cooking broth.  If I were to make Oyako Don again, I think I’d go with the recipe from Iron Chef Morimoto.  It was a very tasty satisfying meal.  I’d be curious to see how my niece would react to this dish (this time with the addition of kizame nori AND the ichimi togarashi).

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