Parent and Child Bowl

Oyako Domburi

The fanciful name given to this chicken omelet served on rice is typical of Japanese culinary humor. Oya means “parent” and ko means “child” and the age-old question of which came first (the chicken or the egg?) is given a tasty Oriental solution. You might find it surprising to use so much soup stock and sugar in an omelet. The resulting dish, though, is neither sweet nor soupy. The sugar is nicely balanced by the saltiness of the soy sauce, and the omelet is really poached in the seasoned broth.

Ingredients

  • 1 boned chicken breast, about ½ pound
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cups dashi (Basic Soup Stock)
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon saké (rice wine)
  • 4 eggs
  • cup chopped mitsuba (trefoil) or coriander or watercress
  • 2½–3 cups hot rice, cooked according to the master recipe on with 1¼–1½ cups raw rice (or leftover cooked rice, briefly heated)

Method

Remove all skin and fat from the chicken breast, slice it in half lengthwise and then slice into thin pieces slightly on the diagonal across the width (sogi-giri cutting). Peel and slice the onion thin on a vertical plane (kushi-gata cutting).

Heat the stock in a small saucepan and season it with soy sauce, sugar and rice wine, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Then add the sliced chicken and onion to the seasoned broth. Cook it, uncovered, over medium heat for 3–4 minutes or until the onions have wilted and the chicken is cooked through.

The Japanese have a special skillet (oyako nabé) they use for making individual round omelets, described. If you have one of these or another very small round skillet, make 4 separate omelets using 1 egg for each and one-quarter of the chicken, onions and broth. You can keep the first ones warm by transferring them to a deep dish and covering with aluminum foil. If you have only a 6–8-inch or larger skillet, make 1 omelet and cut it in 4 pieces.

Beat the egg or eggs very well, trying not to incorporate air while doing so. Pour the chicken, onions and broth into a skillet and heat to simmering. Pour the well-beaten egg or eggs into the center of the skillet and cook over medium heat until the edges begin to set. Though skilled Japanese cooks use only a gentle swirling wrist motion to prevent the omelet from sticking to the bottom of the skillet, there’s no reason why you couldn’t use a spatula carefully to loosen the omelet. Simmer for 3–4 minutes and garnish the top with chopped trefoil, coriander or watercress. Cook for another minute.

Divide the hot cooked rice among 4 deep bowls. Place a small round omelet or a quarter of a larger one into each bowl. Pour any seasoned broth that may remain in the skillet over the omelets. Serve immediately.

,