japanese rice bowl
Donburi isn’t one food, but rather a family of Japanese dishes consisting of a bowl of rice topped with another ingredient, most often seafood, meat, or vegetables.
Popular toppings for donburi include ikura (cured salmon roe), eel, tonkatsu cutlet, beef, pork, egg, tempura, or hardy fish like tuna and salmon. Dishes served donburi-style in Japan are generally referred to as the name or abbreviation of the food plus the suffix “don.” For example, eel donburi is unadon, tonkatsu is katsudon, and salmon roe donburi is ikuradon.
Depending on the topping, it’s often cooked or simmered with a flavorful sauce or broth to infuse it with a substantial sweet and/or umami flavor. An example of this is in unadon, in which the eel is cooked kabayaki-style where it’s liberally brushed with a sweet sauce and grilled over charcoal to create a full satisfying combination of crispiness, sweetness, and rich eel flavor. Beef donburi is also usually marinated in a soy and mirin sauce that gives it a hint of sweetness and extra umami.
On the other side of this spectrum are many seafood donburi varieties served with the topping either cured in the case of ikuradon, or as sashimi like certain preparations of salmon or tuna.
The history of donburi isn’t completely clear, but it probably originated in Japan somewhere from a couple hundred to over 500 years ago. It’s evolved since then to be an extremely popular family of dishes across Japan made at home or eaten out.
Whatever kind of donburi you’re craving, the ingredients can be found at all Uwajimaya stores! Prepared Donburi bowls are also available in the Deli hot case.