Donburi (丼) is the Japanese word for a large wood or ceramic bowl that’s used for serving rice or noodle dishes. It’s also the name of a class of dishes involving something savory served over rice, and it’s often shortened to just “don” for short. For example, Tanin Donburi becomes Tanindon, and Gyu Donburi becomes Gyudon.
Tanin (他人) literally means unrelated, or outsider, and it’s a tongue in cheek reference to the classic Oyakodon, which means “Parent-child bowl.” Unlike Oyakodon, which is made with chicken and egg, Tanindon is made with egg and unrelated meat, such as beef or pork. I’ve even seen a vegetarian version made with shiitake mushrooms and eggs.
While Tanindon can technically be made with any meat other than chicken, there are a few things to keep in mind. Because the meat is simmered for only a short amount of time in liquid, it can become tough and dry. To get around this, you want to use a well-marbled cut of meat that is sliced very thinly. Japanese supermarkets usually have meat for Sukiyaki (or shabu shabu) that’s marbled and sliced thinly. If you don’t have one near you, you can slice your own beef by chilling it in the freezer until it’s firm (but not frozen), and then use a very sharp knife to cut thin slices against the grain. Thinly sliced pork belly is another good option for making Tanindon.
The short answer is no. For short cooking times, eggs need to be heated above 160 degrees F to destroy most microbes. In Japan, where there is a culture of eating eggs rare, or even raw, they are raised and handled in a way to minimize the risk of foodborne illnesses such as salmonella, but there is always a risk anytime you consume undercooked eggs.
Donburi such as Oyakodon and Tanindon are cooked with a dashi broth, which is thickened into a gravy with partially-cooked eggs. My best advice here is to use pasteurized eggs for this dish or to cook the eggs through more thoroughly to be safe.
The process for making Tanindon is very similar to other donburi dishes and starts with Japanese dashi broth, which is seasoned with soy sauce, sake, and sugar. For Tanindon, I add a bit more soy sauce and sugar than in other donburis because I like giving it the taste of Sukiyaki.
I like to throw in the white parts of scallions at the beginning and cook them until they become tender and sweet. Once the scallions are cooked, I throw in the scallion greens and beef and swish these around in the broth until they’re just barely cooked through.
To finish it off, the beaten egg gets drizzled into the pan in a figure-eight pattern. This distributes the egg more evenly. A few quick stirs help mix the egg with the broth, and then I take the pan off the heat, allowing the residual heat to thicken the eggs to a creamy consistency. If you want to cook the eggs through more thoroughly, you can cover the pan with the lid and let them steam until they’re set.
Tanindon traditional gets served on a bed of rice, but it’s also fantastic over a bowl of udon noodles.
- Oyakodon (chicken and egg bowl)
- Gyudon (beef bowl)
- Chicken Katsudon (chicken katsu bowl)
- Soborodon (crumbled chicken and egg bowl)
- Break the eggs into a container with a spout and beat them until they’re partially mixed together, but leaving some unmixed yolks and whites.
- In a small frying pan that’s about the same width as the bowl, you plan to serve your donburi in, add the dashi, sake, soy sauce, sugar, and the white parts of the scallions and bring the mixture to a boil.
- When the white parts of the scallions are tender, add the beef and scallion greens and give the mixture a stir. If your beef is sliced thinly enough, it should cook almost instantly.
- When the beef is almost fully cooked, drizzle the egg into the pan in a figure-eight pattern.
- Give it a quick stir, and then turn off the heat. The residual heat should be enough to thicken the egg into a rich sauce, but if you want your egg more well done, cover it with a lid and let it cook through.
- Add a serving of rice to a large bowl and top with the egg and beef. You can garnish your Tanindon with some shichimi chili flakes.