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Travel-inspired Recipes

Soboro Don

Minced chicken cooked in soy sauce, sugar, sake and mirin. Served over rice with egg and greens. Easy, simple and delicious.

Soboro Don Recipe

Soboro was one of the dishes served for lunch during our tour of Kyoto castles and Nara. It was a canteen-style lunch with dishes in stainless steel trays set over simmering water. We pointed to the ones we liked, they gave us a serving of each so we ended up with several bowls and plates on our trays. I’m sure you know the kind of set-up that I’m trying to describe here.

It wasn’t a particularly good lunch (part of the tour package, you see) but the soboro was among the few dishes that I truly enjoyed. And even if it wasn’t served in an attractive way. The minced chicken was simply dumped in a bowl. But the chicken was tasty so I never forgot.

This recipe is for soboro don. Or soboro donburi if you want the longer version. The minced chicken is ladled over hot rice in a bowl, and eggs and greens are arranged on the side. Outside Japan, I don’t often see soboro don in restaurant menus where the staples are often arrays of over-plated sushi and tempura. In Japan, soboro don is comfort food. Sweet rather than salty which is probably why it’s a favorite with children.

Soboro Don Recipe

Soboro Don

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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Japanese
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 3 people
Author: Connie Veneracion

Ingredients

  • 250 grams minced chicken (see notes after the recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil (halve the amount if the minced chicken includes the skin)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sake
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • ¼ teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

For the eggs

  • 3 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil

To complete the dish

  • cooked Japanese rice
  • sliced scallions

Instructions

Marinate the chicken

  • In a bowl, stir together the chicken, cooking oil, soy sauce, sake, mirin, ginger and sugar. Cover and set aside.
  • Beat the eggs in a bowl with salt and sugar.
  • Heat the cooking oil in a frying pan and pour in the eggs. Tilt the pan to allow the eggs to spread. Cook until set.
  • Transfer the omelet to a cutting board. Roll up then cut into thin strips. Set aside.

Cook the soboro

  • Reheat the frying pan. Spread the chicken with the marinade evenly.
  • Cook over medium-high heat for about a minute then stir. Continue cooking, with occasional stirring, until the liquid has dried up.

Assemble the soboro don

  • Ladle cooked Japanese rice into three bowls.
  • Top the rice with soboro, egg and scallions.
  • Serve the soboro don immediately.

Notes

You can buy ground chicken to make soboro. Ground breast or thighs. Note, though, that because there is very little oil involved in the cooking, ground skinless chicken breast meat will be dry rather than moist at the end of cooking time. Ground chicken thigh fillets, which contain enough fat, would be a better choice.
At home, however, we went a step farther. Grocery-bought ground chicken is too finely ground for our taste. To add more texture to the chicken, we opted for chicken thigh fillets, skin on, that were minced right in our kitchen. The resulting mince had uneven pieces with some larger than others. We loved it.
Now, about the egg. Scrambled eggs, barely set and still wet, is the most popular way of cooking the eggs that go with soboro. We opted to cook the eggs as a thin omelet which was rolled and cut into thin strips.
How to Cook Soboro Don
Written By

I travel to eat, drink and learn new cuisines. Between trips, I write travel stories and share travel-inspired recipes. That is my idea of retirement with purpose.

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