Thursday, October 14, 2004

Ode to donburi

I love donburi. Donburi is one of the first things I learned how to cook. I can still remember the first time I made it from a recipe in Hiroko Urakami’s Japanese Family-Style Recipes. As it simmered, a wonderful aroma filled my kitchen. The kitchen smelled exactly like a Japanese restaurant! What an ego boost to a novice cook that was.

Because of its simplicity and speed of preparation, donburi soon became a fixture in my life. Even on the nights when I dragged home after a long commute, all I needed was some thawed chicken and some dashi to get things started. Mirin, shoyu and sugar completed the sweet soy broth in which the chicken pieces were cooked. Then I added beaten eggs to the pan and let them set. After a minute or two of simmering in the covered pot, I had a tasty mix of chicken, egg and soy broth ready to be poured over a bowl of hot rice. It was quick, easy and hearty food; not only that, but I usually had plenty for leftovers the next day.

Because it was such a confidence-inspiring dish, donburi became the first meal I would make for friends if I’d never cooked for them before. Donburi and I have shared festive occasions filled with good company, and I know that many friends have finished their meals convinced of donburi’s goodness. Any positive feelings they may have had about my cooking skills were only a bonus.

There’s dashi in the fridge. Chicken is thawing. Life is good.

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