San Shoku Donburi: Three-Color Rice Bowl


This is another donburi, a bowl of rice topped with soy-simmered finely ground chicken. It’s a recipe from one of my other Japanese cook books,
Washoku – Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen.” I was inspired by the Washoku Warriors, a group of food-bloggers who are planning to cook through Elizabeth Andoh’s book. Their posts about this dish made me hungry and I’m now recommending it to my readers. Besides being easy to make and beautiful, it is delicious and will appeal even to people who are not adventurous diners.

First make the tori soboro (gingery soy-simmered ground chicken). Note that you can make extra because this mixture freezes well and can be used as a rice topping or as filling for onigiri. I think it would be good as a stuffing for roasted eggplants as well.


Gingery Ground Chicken
Tori Soboro
serves 4 generously as a don topping, or 12 rice balls
from Washoku, by Elizabeth Andoh
page 258

  • 1 pound ground chicken (a combination of dark and light meat)
  • 2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons saké
  • 2 ½ teaspoons sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons shoyu
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ginger juice

Place the chicken in a cold skillet. Add the saké and sugar and stir to separate the bits of meat before starting to cook. Put the pan over low heat and cook, breaking up the meat into crumblike clusters. Ground chicken is stickier than beef, so pay close attention until the chicken is cooked.
If your chicken is fattier than mine was, skim off excess fat now.
Add the soy sauce and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the ginger juice. Turn the heat up to reduce the excess liquid in the pan—you don’t want the meat to become dry, but it should not be soupy. Remove from the heat, let cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month. Reheat over low heat, adding a few drops of water, if necessary, and stirring to break up clusters.

Three Color Rice Bowl
San Shoku Donburi
4 – 5 rice bowls
from Washoku, by Elizabeth Andoh
page 153

  • Gingery Ground Chicken
  • 1 ¼ cup fresh or thawed frozen shelled green peas
  • 1 ¼ cup fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
  • Boiling water
  • 3 cups cooked rice
  • 1 Tablespoon shredded red pickled ginger or 4 cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 sheet toasted nori, cut into fine threads

If the chicken is freshly prepared, keep it hot. If it has been refrigerated or frozen and thawed, place in a skillet over high heat and stir until hot to break up the bits of meat. If you are using fresh peas and corn, bring a small saucepan filled with water to a rolling boil, add the peas, and cook for about 3 minutes, or until just tender. Drain and set aside. Repeat with the fresh corn. If you are using frozen vegetables, place the peas and corn into separate cups and pour boiling water over them. Let stand for a few minutes and then drain.
Assemble the dish:
Divide the rice among 4 donburi or other deep bowls. Lay a chopstick across the rim of one bowl, dividing it in half; this will be your guide. Use a spoon to cover one side of the bowl with one quarter of the cooked chicken. Turn the chopstick perpendicular, then cover one quarter of the rice with peas, and the remaining quarter with corn. Arrange a cut cherry tomato (or pickled ginger) in the center and sprinkle with nori threads. Repeat with the remaining bowls.


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13 thoughts on “San Shoku Donburi: Three-Color Rice Bowl

    • Hi Nolwenn!
      Ms. Andoh herself suggested it in her book! But it was great because finally this year I’m getting some tomatoes from my little garden.

    • Hi Yaelian!
      Happy to hear from you again…

      I don’t mean to exclude vegetarians’ concerns in my blog, but I am not a vegetarian, so I miss a lot of the finer points.

      My reading of blogs from vegetarians going to Japan, usually to teach English, and very young people at that, seems to indicate that vegetarian cooking in Japan is not easily understood by most Japanese. Often it means restaurants (or even home cooks) do not add beef, pork, or chicken to a dish, though the recipes are based on dashi which usually means it is made with fish (katsubushi). And often, the recipes do include other animal based ingredients for flavor.

      There is of course Shojin- ryori, temple cooking, but it seems to be set aside from the normal/widespread cuisine of Japan.

      Sorry for the rambling reply, but yes, some soy alternative would be good. My daughter does not eat eggs (they cause migraines for her) but perhaps something like this tofu omelette would work:
      If you eat eggs…

      Anyway, if you find a great vegetarian version of this meal, please let me know about it.

  1. Great dish for a bento box style lunch, Tess!

    My kind of meal for sure! Thank you… I will look into the Washoku group, sounds very interesting to me

    • Hi Sally,
      They are a very friendly bunch of people. And the book they are working through is one I have, and it is very good. Lots of recipes similar to those in my book, but with a little different approach. Recipes I’ve tried from it all work very well. I just can’t commit to another project, but I do wish I had the time.
      This recipe especially is very nice because it is not too exotic to serve to most people for a dinner party, easy to make (mostly ahead of time), and would be great served with a simple miso soup and some Japanese-style pickles.

  2. I admire those who take this kind of challenge – like you cooking that full book…

    You were one of the few who stuck to those “projects”, I started two and never finished (sigh)

    I will definitely be following that group, as my knowledge of Japanese food is very limited.

    • Well, not that you would need much encouragement, ≥^,^≤

      but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend buying either Hiroko Shimbo’s book or Elizabeth Andoh’s book. (I don’t think that the Washoko Warriors are posting the recipes, so if you want to participate, you will need a copy of that book.)

  3. Such a fun to dish to present, isn’t it? I’ve loved everything I’ve made from Andoh’s book so far! I actually bought Hiroko Shimbo’s book as a result of reading your blog, so thank you!

    • Great! I’m sure you’ll enjoy Ms. Shimbo’s book.

      Her recipes for homemade ramen stock are very good—not much more of a challenge than making any stock, but judging by the number of hits I get on that series of recipes, they are unusual for home cooks.

      • So far I have! Good thing to know about the ramen stock. Ramen stock recipes I’ve tried in the past have not been all that spectacular. Fingers crossed for Shimbo-san’s!

        • Hmmm…
          Now that I go back and look at the recipe I posted on my blog, it was actually the second time I’d made it so I’d picked up so tips. It’s her recipe, but experience is a good teacher!

          The key to a nice porky broth is to use pig parts with lots of collagen and to keep the broth boiling. That’s not in Ms. Shimbo’s recipe. Oh well. When it cools off again, I want to do ramen again.

  4. Pingback: Cheese Grits, Japanese Style? « Tess's Japanese Kitchen

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