Soboro Don | Ground Chicken Bowl

Summer is finally coming to an end as Big Onechan returns to school and we celebrate our last three-day weekend of the season with a family BBQ or two. It seems as though summer break only just began and yet over two months have flown by since school let out in June. This week we had a variety of things going on and I still managed to write a post! Crazy, huh? We went to the Zoomar’s Petting Zoo in San Juan Capistrano, the Mission Viejo mall, had a lunch date with Bebe Dada, and a short visit from Bachan and Jichan (Bebe E’s maternal grandparents) as they stopped by on their way home from the Indian casinos in Temecula. It was a leisurely yet somewhat busy way to spend the last few days of summer vacation.

Bad news  – – – Unfortunately, the end of summer means the beginning of football season. Ick. Bebe Dada was watching his Trojans play against Hawaii as I worked on this post. This means the next several months will be dedicated to the Trojans, college and pro-football. Ugh. I dread football season every year. When I was little my Dad watched football on the weekends while I lounged around on the floor waiting to regain control of the TV. I think I usually ended-up falling asleep and napping while he watched multiple games. To this day, there’s nothing better than napping to the droning sound of commentators in the background, with the exception that I can’t really nap anymore now that Bebe E has arrived. :) Like I was saying, I dread football season.

A few comments I made to Bebe Dada during last night’s game:

1) During the 2nd quarter I asked when football season was officially over. He just laughed. He didn’t give me an answer. I think I’ll need to Google this today.

2) I told Bebe Dada that I heard the Trojans lost today to Hawaii. For some reason I thought the game was played during the day and that someone on my Facebook wall wrote something along the lines of the Trojans losing. Or maybe they were just Trojan haters. I later found out why Bebe Dada ignored me when I made this comment. The game was on live. Heh. Seriously, what do I know about football? Not much, with the exception of a ‘flea flicker’. Did I even spell that correctly?!?

3) In the 3rd quarter I asked Bebe Dada if he loved football more than he loved his wife. Again, he just laughed. Then he asked what I was going to do for the rest of the season because this game was ONLY the very first game of the Trojan season. Ick.

There is good news, however. Football on TV usually means the Lakers are right around the corner. October is pre-season, right?!? I’ll have to download the Lakers calendar onto my iCalendar soon.

So, have any of you ever eaten at a yakitoriya? This is a type of Japanese restaurant that serves bite-sized chicken skewered on bamboo sticks that is grilled over special charcoal. You will also find items other than chicken and chicken offal, such as quail egg, beef, seafood, vegetables and my favorite, bacon wrapped enoki mushrooms. Typically, soboro don is served at the end of a yakitori meal. It is a Japanese donburi dish where seasoned ground chicken is served over a bed of rice. Often, it is served side by side with finely scrambled egg.

Last week, I served soboro don as the main course for our lunch with Mrs. Sensei, along with a daikon and ninjin sunonomo that I featured in my previous post. The soboro don that I served to Mrs. Sensei, included both ground chicken and finely scrambled egg.

The soboro don you see featured at the top of this post is made strictly with ground chicken, and represents what I typically make for dinner at home. We eat this at least once every 4 – 6 weeks because it’s simple and very quick to make AND it’s a family favorite.

What’s interesting about this dish, however, is that growing up, my Mom never made this for us. It’s a dish that I came to enjoy as I frequented various yakitoriya across L.A. and Orange County, pre-Bebe E. :)

Soboro Don

(serves 4)

  • 6 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds ground chicken
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 – 5 tablespoons shoyu (soy sauce), to taste
  • 3 tablespoons mirin (sweet cooking sake)
  • 1 tablespoon dry bonito dashi powder
  • 1/2 to 1 tablespoon minced ginger (I add less for Bebe E because the ginger can get spicy)
  • Kizami nori (sliced seaweed) for garnish
for scrambled egg:
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons skim milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry bonito dashi powder
  • Splash of shoyu (soy sauce)

1) Bring water to boil in a medium pot. Meanwhile, mince ginger.

I store ginger in the freezer and it keeps well. The skin can be peeled whilst the ginger is still frozen using a vegetable peeler. With a sharp knife, a clump of the ginger can be cut, again while frozen, and then minced.

NOTE: I typically keep a tube of grated nama shoga (minced raw ginger) in the refrigerator. This can be purchased at the Japanese supermarket. It’s a great short-cut to use if you don’t have fresh ginger on hand. I also used nama shoga in the tube for homemade chili.

This is totally unrelated to this dish, but the other day Big Onechan was watching iCarly on Disney Channel and I noticed Carly was using these same cutting boards (there’s different colors for chicken, fish, vegetables etc.) as place mats on their dinner table! 

2) Combine all ingredients in the pot and allow to simmer on medium. Allow the simmering sauce to cook for about 5 to 7 minutes. Taste the sauce to see if it is to your liking. Adjust by adding more soy sauce, if necessary. I tend to use about 3 tablespoons soy sauce since I like the flavor of the chicken mild, and less salty.

3) Meanwhile, gently tenderize ground chicken with the back of a knife or a meat tenderizing mallet, if you have one.

I learned from Mrs. Sensei that in Japan, ground chicken is sold finely minced, but that isn’t the case here. Ground chicken is typically found at the Japanese supermarket or other Asian supermarket. Whole Foods also carries ground chicken or the butcher will make some upon request.

4) On medium-low heat, slowly cook the ground chicken with the simmering liquid, constantly mixing so that the meat doesn’t clump together. It’s very important to cook the chicken on low so the meat stays tender. If you cook the chicken on high, it tends to be tougher. Allow the chicken to simmer for about 15 minutes until well-cooked.

5) Make finely scrambled egg. Combine egg, milk, dashi powder and shoyu (soy sauce). Gently whisk together. Over medium heat, scramble the egg in a pan using chopsticks or a whisk. The more you whisk while the egg is just starting to cook, the better, and more finely you will be able to scramble your eggs.

6) Serve rice in a medium donburi bowl, spoon chicken over rice on half of the bowl.  Drizzle extra simmering sauce over chicken if desired. On the other half of the bowl, top with finely scrambled egg. Garnish with kizami nori (sliced seaweed) Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from “What’s Cooking in Japan”.

Please leave me a comment if you have time. I would enjoy hearing from you and I read and respond to every comment. Don’t be shy to speak up! You know who you are! :)

Happy Labor Day! Have a safe weekend!

Bebe Mama | Judy

9 thoughts on “Soboro Don | Ground Chicken Bowl

  1. I will have to try this…
    At Shinsen gumi in MPK, they have this dish and the kids like it so I will try it or maybe have hubby do it. lol ;)

    I also think football is ick…sorry you have to have it in your house…especially USC football…ha ha…sorry bebe dada. I’m glad my hubby doesn’t watch football!

    see you this weekend!

    • We’ve been to that same Shin Sen Gumi with my in-laws. Definitely have hubby make it for you, but it’s so easy I’m sure you could pull it off too. Ha. :P I would add extra water for the kids to make it less salty. That’s what I do now that Bebe eats our food. I just ask the big people to add shoyu if it’s not savory enough for them. :)

      See you at the park today – – – I’m so spoiled b/c we’ve all been hanging out so much this summer. I love it! :)

  2. Hello Judy,
    I had similar food before in Taiwan. But I think yours looks so much tastier. Sorry about the football season start lol. Maybe you should crazy cooking and upload it on blog when Bebe Dada busy watching football hehe.

  3. Another yummy recipe!
    I’ve never had this, but it looks like comfort food. I wonder if it would be as good with ground turkey? What do you think? I only ask because the ground turkey in stores is supposed to be lower in fat. But I suppose I could make my own ground chicken with a food processor. I’ve done it for hamburger meat (when I am being paranoid about unclean grinders, etc. ha ha).
    My hub has issues with ground meat texture, but my son and I would love it, I think. :)

    • Hi Melissa, I’ve never tried ground turkey with this recipe, but I do use it often for most other dishes that call for ground beef. I’m so used to the flavor of the chicken in this soboro don that it might taste different to me if I used turkey instead, but I’m sure it will taste great. Most other instances where I substitute ground turkey typically turns out delicious. :)

  4. Pingback: Dote-Nabe | Miso Hot Pot | Bebe Love Okazu

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