My daughter, Sam, prefers chicken breast fillet over thigh fillet. The rest of us in the family prefer chicken thigh fillets. We buy both but the thigh fillets get consumed faster. The night I cooked soboro don, there were only chicken breast fillets left in the freezer. Because they’re skinless, I had to modify the cooking procedure to make sure that the meat wouldn’t dry up in the pan.
But the order in which I cook the components has not changed. First, I cook the rice. Then, the eggs. On days when time is short, I cook the eggs and chicken at the same time using two frying pans on two stove burners. It can get frenzied doing it that way. There’s always the chance that the chicken will burn while I’m attending to the eggs. So, cooking them one after the other is the safer way.
To keep the omelette thin, I use a large frying pan. Once the eggs are set, I just slide the omelette on a cutting board and roll it up using a spatula. I let it cool there while finely slicing the scallions. When cool enough to handle, I cut the rolled omelette into thin strips. With the eggs and scallions ready, I cook the chicken.
You may use ground chicken. That’s convenient because there will be less preparation for you. But because breast meat is lean, I prefer to cut the fillets into larger pieces so that the chicken doesn’t dry up so fast.
The traditional way of cooking soboro is to marinate the chicken in soy sauce, sake and mirin with ginger and sugar. If you want to take that route and you’re using chicken breast meat, add a tablespoon or two of oil to the marinade. Then spread on a heated pan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the marinade has been soaked up.
If not marinating, just roll the minced chicken in oil over low heat to moisten the pieces before adding the seasonings.
To ensure proper caramelization, turn up to medium-high before pouring in the soy sauce, sake, mirin, ginger and sugar. Cook the chicken with plenty of stirring until the sauce thickens and caramelizes, and clings to every piece of meat. By that time, the chicken breast meat is cooked through without having a chance to turn dry.
Full recipe below
For the eggs
- 3 eggs
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 250 grams minced chicken
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil - (halve the amount if the minced chicken includes the skin)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sake
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- ½ teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon sugar
To complete the dish
- cooked Japanese rice
- sliced scallions
Cook the omelette
- 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 omelette to a cutting board. Roll up then cut into thin strips. Set aside.
Cook the soboro
- Reheat the frying pan, pour in the oil then spread the chicken evenly.
- Pour in the soy sauce, sake and mirin.
- Sprinkle in the sugar and ginger.
- 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.