Convenient, simple and satisfying, rice bowls have become popular around the world. But there is a difference between what is sold as teriyaki rice bowls and a true donburi. At Asian-American fast food eateries, teriyaki-flavored meats and vegetables are grilled or stir-fried and then placed on steamed white rice. For a donburi dish, the meats and vegetables are simmered in or served with light broths that flavor the steamed rice in the donburi or bowl. The lid keeps in the heat.
The most well-known donburi dishes are Gyudon (beef), Oyakodonburi (egg and chicken), Tendon (fried shrimp), Negitorodon (raw fatty tuna), Unagi donburi (eel), Tamagodon (egg) and Katsudon (fried breaded pork). There are Chinese-influenced donburi dishes, too, that feature stir-fried vegetables and meats. Most any simmered foods find their way to the top of a donburi, even leftovers. But you will need a different recipe for each type.
To make a rice bowl, you simply cook teriyaki-marinaded beef, chicken or seafood, adding chopped, steamed or stir-fried vegetables and then put this all on a bowl of cooked rice. But for those of you who prefer a standard recipe, here is mine. Not truly Japanese, but far superior to those you’ll find at many a fast food place, if I dare say so myself. I actually like to add different Asian vegetables such as water chestnuts, baby corn, and shiitake mushrooms but I fashioned this recipe so it is similar to the rice bowls you buy now. Fast food establishments are concerned about the bottom line profit so they tend to use readily available and inexpensive vegetables.
Teriyaki Beef or Chicken Rice Bowl
steamed white rice
½ lb. beef rib eye steak, sliced thinly* (see note) OR boneless chicken
½ white onion, sliced thinly
½ carrot, julienned
6 broccoli flowerettes
1 cup cabbage, shredded
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
1 Tbsp. mirin
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
1 tsp. cornstarch
¼ cup water
1 green onion, sliced thinly
1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
In a small pot, blend together soy sauce, sugar. Bring to a simmer while stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cool. Add minced garlic, ginger and mirin. Marinate the meat slices in this teriyaki sauce mixture for four hours.
In a large skillet, heat one half tablespoon of vegetable oil. Stir-fry the onion, carrots, broccoli and cabbage until tender crisp. Remove from pan. Add the remaining half tablespoon of vegetable oil to pan. Stir-fry the marinaded beef. Remove meat. Blend the cornstarch with water and pour this into the reserved marinade, stirring to avoid lumps. Pour this into the pan, heat and stir until thickened. Return the cooked beef and vegetables to the pan and stir gently to coat with the sauce.
Place hot, steamed white rice in a donburi or deep, individual serving bowl. Place cooked vegetables and meat on the rice. Pour on a small amount of thickened teriyaki sauce. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and sliced green onions.
*Alternatively, you could marinate the rib eye steak whole and then grill it. Slice it thinly before serving it on the rice with more of the cooked and thickened teriyaki sauce. I prefer it that way but the other version is similar to the teriyaki bowls which are familiar to most Americans.