Monday, April 8, 2013

Oyako Donburi (Stone Age Chicken)

This little beauty is the ultimate in one-dish cooking, which was lucky, because most of our kitchen utensils and dishes were dirty and piled high on the sink.
This is what it looks like when you use the correct ingredients (image courtesy Jason Thomas)
It was just one of those days. Collect one kid from school, try and spend some ‘quality time’, then get to daycare to collect the other two, then start the mother juggling act:

-          Hungry screaming baby who wants food, no I want to be picked up, no I want food, dirty nappy, where’s my food, she stepped on meeeeeee

-          Hungry six year old who swears she’s ‘staaaaarving’

-          Homework requirements, ‘how do you spell rhinoceros’

-          Accompanying three year old to toilet, ‘why are wees yellow?’

-          Breaking up fights

-          Feed the baby

-          Bath the baby

-          Convincing the other kids to keep their clothes on

-          And try and cook dinner for four people all with different preferences and requirements.

And I managed this without a glass of wine. No seriously.

Chicken donburi is the classic chicken and egg dish. In a saucepan you bring dashi stock, soy sauce, sugar and mirin to a boil. Then you add sliced onion and boil a bit. Then you add chopped chicken thigh and simmer. When the chicken is done and the stock has reduced, you throw in some beaten eggs, which cook in the heat, setting everything like a big chicken-and-egg existential omelette, which you serve with steamed rice.

Sounds gross? It’s really really not.

Ok, maybe a little gross

Except in my kitchen things never seem to go smoothly, especially at 5pm when I have three feral kids all dying of something or other.

The recipe requires mirin. Mirin is a rice wine, a bit like sake but with less booze.  Personally I don’t know why you’d bother, which is probably why when I looked in the cupboard we didn’t have mirin. We had sushi rice seasoning and rice wine vinegar. Crap.

AND they were both out of date. Double crap.
2010? Man, that was three years ago!
But I had passed the point of no return with this dinner. My limited remaining brain capacity could not comprehend another dish made with chicken thigh and beaten eggs, so I was forging ahead, regardless of having the wrong ingredients that would probably give us all food poisoning.

I didn’t know which of the alternative ingredients to use, so I used a bit of both. I also threw in some Swiss Brown mushrooms because I had found another donburi recipe which called for them, and I thought it would be a great way to up the veggie quota of dinner, especially since there was no chance in hell I was making any sides tonight.
Sorry, wrong eggs
When my husband finally stepped through the door, he was greeted by two naked little girls playing Barbie dolls and one rather grumpy wife. We threw the kids in the bath, begging them to play quietly and not wake the baby up while I finished making dinner.

It smelled great.

It's one of those dishes that taste better than it looks

We sat down to eat.

And we both choked on the first mouthful. It wasn’t the out of date seasonings – it was the rice. I had cooked basmati and it was so very very wrong for this Japanese dish.

‘Don’t we have sushi rice,’ he asked bravely. I ignored him.

‘I appreciate you cooking dinner every night,’ he continued. ‘But you don’t have to. We can have sandwiches,’ he said.

I ignored him.

I wish I’d had that glass of wine.


My thoughts

What thoughts? I told you my brain capacity is severely limited.

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