My husband often cuts out recipes from the weekend Wall Street Journal and he leaves them on the kitchen counter for the only person in the house that enjoys cooking (that’s me!). A few years ago, he unintentionally gifted me a cut-out recipe that flooded me with sweet memories of my childhood: chicken and eggs stewed in a brothy sauce served over rice. Known as oyakodon in Japan, it’s soulful comfort food that reminds me of my mother—but I had never cooked it for myself. Now I make it quite often for our three children.
Oyakodon is quick and easy to make at home and is traditionally cooked on the stovetop. But making it in the microwave cuts the cook time in half to under 10 minutes—this is significant for a busy working mom that is often up against the clock to get dinner on the table.
What Is Oyakodon?
Oyakodon means “mother and child bowl” in Japanese, a sweet nod to the chicken and eggs in the recipe. It’s a popular rice bowl served at restaurants and at home.
It starts with a sweet-and-savory broth made with soy sauce, dashi, sake, and sugar. (For this recipe, I use chicken stock and mirin, instead of dashi and sake, since they are pantry staples I always have on hand.) Sliced chicken and onions are simmered in the broth and lightly beaten eggs are added at the end. Once the eggs are set, the oyakodon is scooped over warm rice. It’s a simple yet hearty dinner.
Use Chicken Thighs, Not Chicken Breasts
You’ve come to a recipe written by a person that is squarely in team chicken thighs. In fact, unless I’m buying a whole chicken, I don’t ever cook chicken breasts. They are easy to overcook and when cooked in the microwave, they’ll get dry and stringy. I would recommend sticking to chicken thighs—they’ll stay juicy even if you microwave them for too long.
No Mirin? Use This Instead
Mirin, a sweetened rice wine, is a Japanese pantry staple that’s hard to find in the U.S. in its purest form—likely not at your neighborhood grocery store. I recommend Takara, but I don’t always have it.
Instead, I use aji-mirin (it translates to “tastes like mirin” in Japanese) made by Kikkoman. It’s a near-perfect alternative I can find at my local Kroger, Target, and Whole Foods. It’s relatively inexpensive and does the job of adding umami, sweetness, and a little tang. For the best price, look for it at your local grocery store instead of Amazon.
Prep For a Busy Week
Sometimes I travel for work and my husband (who’s not the best cook, but he is masterful at laundry, dishes, and vacuuming) is tasked with feeding our three children. If I have my wits about me, I prep this recipe by marinating the chicken and vegetables in the sweet-salty sauce right in the baking dish. I cover the dish with plastic wrap and pop it in the fridge where it can stay for a couple of days. Then all he has to do is microwave it and add the eggs. I’d call this a major microwave dinner upgrade.
Season the chicken:
In an 8×8-inch glass baking dish, add the chicken, onions, garlic, soy sauce, mirin, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and black pepper. Use a large spoon to stir well and spread the mixture out evenly in the baking dish.
Microwave the chicken:
Tightly cover the baking dish with plastic wrap. Use the tip of a knife or fork to poke a couple of holes on top. Microwave on high power for 7 minutes. Check a larger piece of chicken towards the center of the dish for doneness. It should not be pink in the middle. If it is, microwave for 2 more minutes.
Prepare the eggs:
While the chicken microwaves, lightly whisk the eggs (you want to see some separation between the egg yolk and whites) and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the chicken stock. Set it aside.
Microwave the eggs:
Carefully pull the baking dish out of the microwave and peel off the plastic wrap (don’t toss it). It’s going to be very hot so use a kitchen towel or oven mitts. Stir the chicken and then spread it out evenly again.
Pour the eggs on top of the chicken, but do not stir them in. Tightly cover the baking dish with the same plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 2 minutes.
Check the eggs for doneness. If you see raw eggs on top, use a spoon to gently stir by pushing the raw eggs towards the outer edges of the baking dish. Microwave on high again in 1-minute intervals until the eggs are fully cooked. The cook time will depend on the wattage of your microwave.
Serve the oyakodon over cooked rice and a side of kimchi. It’s supposed to be a little soupy, so don’t forget to scoop up the liquid, too.
Store leftovers tightly covered in the fridge for up to 2 days. To reheat, microwave in 1-minute intervals until heated through.
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