Here is Chef Isao Yamada's incredibly tasty version of a Japanese comfort food classic: Okayodon. Oyako means "parent and child," a reference to the eggs and chicken in this simple rice dish. What you do is cook chicken and onions in umami-rich uma dashi, that is, dashi spiked with mirin and soy sauce in a 4:1:1 ratio (you'll hear more about this extremely versatile flavoring liquid in future posts). Then you swirl in eggs, pour over rice, and presto, satisfying lunch! Yamada-san's twist is swirling in the eggs -- and plopping in whole egg yolks, too, which he gently sets. The result is even more eggy richness over the rice, and an even more delicious dish. Here's how my man Yamada-san prepared the dish for 4 servings:
1 cup dashi
1/4 cup mirin
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 chicken leg, boned and skinned, and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup thinly sliced negi (can substitute with 1 cup thinly sliced onion or scallion)
2 eggs, beaten
4 egg yolks
2 cups cooked steaming rice, divided into 4 bowls
Make the umadashi: Add the dashi and mirin to a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Add the soy sauce. When the liquid boils again, remove from heat and let the umadashi come to room temperature.
Pour about 1/3 cup of umadashi into a skillet (depending on the size of your skillet, you can add more umadashi if you need to). Add the chicken and negi (or onion), and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat so the liquid in the skillet simmers. No need to stir.
As soon as the chicken turns white, and cooked, swirl in the beaten eggs, this way: Hold the bowl with the eggs in one hand, and a pair of chopsticks in the other hand that are pointing vertically straight down towards the skillet. Pour the eggs down the chopsticks to they trickle into the skillet; while you're doing this, move both hands in a circular motion to swirl in the eggs evenly.
Spoon the egg yolks into four corners of the skillet, making sure they don't break. Cover the skillet and cook for about 3 minutes until the yolks set. Now break the yolks. The oyaku don will be runny and liquidy when it's done; that's the way you want it. Use a large spoon to pour the oyaku don over the rice, making sure to slide a yolk on top of each bowl of rice. Accent with shansho, to taste. Go to town.