In Japanese, “Donburi” literally means “bowl”, but as a dish, it refers to noodle and rice dishes served in bowls, with other food on top of them, making a complete meal in a bowl. The various Donburi choices vary largely in their toppings. Topping preferences vary by region, even by town, and by season.
They are large, very filling bowls of food served hot with chopsticks. You would never, though, be served plain rice in a Donburi bowl — it would appear piggish.
To make a Donburi, the topping ingredients are simmered together in a sauce often based on dashi, flavoured with soy sauce and mirin, then all is poured on top of both of rice or noodles. 1 or 2 beaten eggs are often added on top of the ingredients at the last minute and allowed to set.
There are now are chains of Donburi shops in Japan.
A few Donburi combos:
|Chuka-don (Chuka Domburi)||This means “Chinese Style.” The topping is a mixture of meat, vegetables and seafood in a thickened sauce.|
|Gyu-don (Gyuniku Domburi)||Beef and onion on rice. The beef is sometimes simmered in water, soy sauce and mirin. Popular with students and office workers.|
|Ikura-don||Garnished with salmon roe and shiso leaves.|
|Katsu-don (Tonkatsu Donburi)||Rice topped with a deep-fried breaded pork cutlet as well as egg and onions.|
|Maguro-don||Topped with tuna sashimi.|
|Makani-don||Means “employee bowl.” The name is bit of a joke, means topped up with leftover things in the restaurant for the workers there.|
|Oyako-don (Oyako Donburi)||“Oya” means “parent”; “ko” means “child.” Has chicken and eggs in it, or salmon and salmon eggs. To make it, a good simmering sauce is dashi, light and dark soy sauce, and sugar. It is put in a pan with sliced onion and simmered until the ocean is translucent. Then chicken and egg are added, and let rest until the egg sets. The mixture is poured onto rice and garnished with trefoil and seaweed.|
|Tanin-don||Has beef and eggs in it. Tanin means “unrelated person.” It is a take on Oyako-don Donburi, because beef has no relation to the egg. Sauce is put in a pan, sliced onion simmered in it until translucent, then beef and egg added and let rest until the egg sets. The mixture is then poured onto rice, and garnished with trefoil and seaweed.|
|Tekka-don (Tekka Domburi)||Raw tuna, nori seaweed, and often, ground yamaimo.|
|Ten-don (Tempura Domburi)||Battered pieces of vegetables or seafood, dipped in soy sauce, served on top the rice.|
|Una-don (Unagi Domburi)||Grilled eel, put in a thick glaze of soy sauce and sweet sake, served on rice, sprinkled with sansho. This combo is popular in the summer, because the Japanese believe eating eel is good for you in the hot weather. This is also the time of year when the eel fishing is at its peak.|
Donburi-dish meals started appearing after the 1870s.