Jul 15

Washoku Warriors Challenge #1: San Shoku Domburi

in Washoku Warriors

The Washoku Warriors wielded their chopsticks for the first time this month by cooking San Shoku Domburi, or Rice Bowl With Three-Colored Topping.
The three colors came from gingery ground chicken, green peas, and yellow corn, with the option of also topping the rice bowl with some red pickled ginger or cherry tomatoes and crumbled toasted nori, to add additional color. We’ve got a great group already (from 3 countries: USA, Japan, and Germany!), and more than half the group was able to complete the first challenge, despite all the business of the summer holidays! So what did the warriors think? Read on to find out (and see pictures)!

Fuji Mama

This dish highlighted how flavorful and enjoyable food can be without being fussy or heavily seasoned. This donburi was extremely simple with the potential to be very bland, and yet it wasn’t at all. This dish also highlighted an aspect of Japanese cuisine that I love so much–the understanding that we eat with our eyes first, and thus we should pay attention to how food comes together on our plate. This dish was beautiful when plated.



I was rather apprehensive about agreeing to cook alongside la Fuji Mama, and my initial reaction upon receiving Elizabeth Andoh’s gorgeous cookbook from Amazon didn’t do anything to relieve that anxiety. Not wanting to judge the book by its cover or weight, however, I opened it up and thumbed through to find the chosen recipe. As I read through it and made my shopping list I though – “Okay, maybe I can do this!” Getting the ingredients proved the easy part – finding a free evening between classes and talks and general busy-ness was much more difficult. Happily once I did find the time, however, the actual cooking proved really easy. The hardest thing was doing the math to translate between the ounces called for in the recipe and the grams listed on the package I bought! Given my penchant for not following recipes, I added more ginger juice to the chicken and also used a special sugar instead of regular white sugar. A friend of a friend of mine is married to a traditional Japanese sweet-maker and I was given a large bag of wasanbon sugar. It comes from sugarcane and is finer than regular white sugar, with a light golden-brown colour. It has a distinctive almost maple-y flavour and I thought it would go nicely with the ginger. I’m not sure it made a huge difference, however, and I’m probably going to save the wasanbon sugar for things where its flavour shines through – like my morning coffee. All in all this was a delicious and super easy dish, and I’m definitely going to follow Andoh’s suggestion by making up a big batch of the chicken and putting it in the freezer for quick and easy reheat dinners.

Read Sarah’s full account on her blog here!



I made the rice bowl for dinner tonight, it turned out so delicious, I’m very glad I tried it. I was familiar with all the ingredients and had no problem purchasing them at my local store. I ended up going to the liquor store for the sake, I’m glad I asked about the seasoning sake, I’m sure I would have just had to look in the liquor section of the store, as I was looking in the cooking section before. I followed the recipe straight from the book with just a few exceptions. I didn’t have a ginger juicer, so I used a microplane and grated it as fine as I could. I used an equal amount of grated ginger. I also topped the dish with black sesame seeds instead of the crumbled nori sheet. I did add some crumbled nori to my second serving (hey, my first serving was small!) I also accidentally added the soy sauce in the pan with the sake and sugar before I turned the heat on. I’m not sure if it affected the final outcome, but I’ll try it the correct way next time I make the chicken. I’m pretty sure the chicken I bought was all breast meat, as there was no fat in the pan to skim after it cooked. For that reason, I think my chicken was a teeny bit dry, but that doesn’t bother me a bit. The dish was a hit with my three kids and was especially devoured by my husband. I loved this recipe and would absolutely make it again, it will probably go in the meal rotation at our house. Since the ground chicken only came in 2 1/2 lb packages at my local store, I actually tripled the recipe and froze the leftovers for later. I made the rice from the directions in the book as well (I used my rice cooker), I was surprised at how many times I actually had to rinse the rice before the water ran clear (6 times!) I usually just put the rice in a fine mesh colander and run some cold water over it for a bit. Overall the recipes are very well written and easy to follow, I feel like the recipe was a big success.



I was very impressed with this recipe — I took the long way around
(fresh peas and corn) and it still took maybe twenty minutes to cook,
start to finish. (The longest part was the rice, of course.) And it

tasted really good. It was very flavorful, which, I’ll be honest, kind
of surprised me: there was relatively little flavoring — the sake,
soy sauce and ginger on the chicken, and that’s really it. But that
meant that the fresh taste of the barely-cooked peas and corn came
through. It was best if you mixed it up and got a combination in each
bite: a little gingery, meaty chicken, a little sweet corn or peas, a
little salty nori, a little tart-sweet tomato or spicy-tart ginger.
And the rice, properly cooked, tasted amazing. (And it wasn’t just me

— my boyfriend kept exclaiming how good it was.)

Read Cora’s full account on her blog here!



This dish was a lot yummier than I was expecting. Especially the gingery ground chicken. I used 16oz of pre-packaged ground chicken that I got in my local grocery store, and just increased the spices proportionately since the recipe only called for 12oz. I have actually never cooked with ground chicken, but it turned out great. The two ingredients I was unsure of in the ground chicken recipe were the saké and the ginger juice. I was able to easily purchase saké at our local liquor store. However, they had two kinds. One was about $7 and made in the US. The other was $18 and imported from Japan. Neither specified if it was dry or sweet. Since I do not particularly care for saké for drinking purposes, I bought the cheaper one, hoping it was okay. Thankfully, it was! I am still unsure however on the storage of the saké to make sure it lasts the longest. The book says to store tightly capped on a cool, dark shelf. However, I read online that it should be refrigerated and will only keep for as long as an open bottle of wine might keep, etc. I am also unsure how to tell when it starts to go bad. Maybe it turns vinegary like wine does? I guess I will find out.

Regarding the ginger juice, I used my ginger grater, created a whole bunch of pulp, which I then squeezed with my finger to extract the juice, and measured. I found it a lot harder than it sounds to get the 1 tsp., but I really was not sure if I could substitute an easier method.

Since peas are in season right now, I was able to use fresh, shelled peas (yum!) and then I used frozen corn. To add the black and red elements, I used some crumbled nori sheets on top, and some small, diced, pickled beets since I was unable to find the shredded red pickled ginger called for in the recipe. The beets were a great substitution in my opinion.

This was a great meal for the kids, although they preferred to eat things as separate elements. My older son, 6yo, especially loved the ground chicken. I would definitely make this again, and think this would be an easy dish to put together on a weeknight if you have prepared the ground chicken in advance. It was very filling. My chicken took a bit longer to cook than the recipe seemed to indicate, but that is probably due to the level of heat used, etc. I enjoyed the ginger chicken so much that I want to see how I can incorporate it into other dishes. I have never thought to use a chopstick to separate the bowl into quadrants when preparing the final dish. I really liked how the presentation turned out. We do not have domburi bowls, so I just used our regular cereal bowls and it worked fine. I am really excited about continuing to cook my way through the Washoku book. I think this will be a great learning experience.

Read Tina Squirrel’s full account on her blog here!



The first challenge of Washoku really wasn’t challenging at all. There were no fancy items – although I haven’t seen red pickled ginger in any of the stores here, but I’ll be on the lookout soon. Sushi rice, saké and soy sauce are staples in my household. I wasn’t too sure about what kind of soy to use, though – I reread the pantry chapter (which amazes me again and again) and considered my standard organic shoyu to be on spot. I did substitute tomato for the red pickled ginger, I didn’t want to leave it out because I wanted to achieve the goshiki.

The cooking techniques were pretty straightforward, as were the (thorough) explanations in the book, I started by making ground chicken in the food processor and cooking the chicken. To produce the ginger juice, I grated ginger on a fine microplane grater and pressed the mash through a tea strainer. I love this way of adding flavor but not the fibers of ginger and will probably use it for other Asian dishes in the future, too.

Next step: the rice. While washing the rice – Andohs reminiscence of her first rice cooking lesson in Japan was a funny read – I thought about traditional methods of preparing foods. And about rice cookers. Do I need one, and do I want one? Actually I’d love one of the Sanyo or Zojirushi fancy gadgets but these are not available in Europe, for whatever reason. Anyway, cooking rice is something anyone should be able to muster with a pan and a lid, and I tried to follow the instructions closely. I am kind of decorationally challenged, to say the least, and I was very pleased how well this turned out and how easy it was. I used frozen organic corn and peas for the vegetable part, which were a snap to prepare, too.

The tastes are fresh and clean – the salty sweetness of the chicken was very pleasant and mild, and not too exotic for Western palates – I think I could serve this (except for the nori) to most people I know, including picky eaters such as children and elderly parents. My husband liked it a lot, too, so this was a full success, and I packed the leftovers into an obento the next day. The dish is very light and probably healthy, yet filling and satisfying. A really nice start.

Read Foodfreak’s full account on her blog here!


Fuji Nana

The hardest part of this recipe was definitely just familiarizing myself with and figuring out where to buy the ingredients. Since I don’t typically cook with alcohol and based on a suggestion from Fuji Mama, I used a tablespoon of water and an extra teaspoon of sugar in place of the sake. I was pleasantly surprised to find ground chicken, red pickled ginger, and toasted nori in my local Albertson’s grocery store, so obtaining the ingredients was easy. I’ve attached a picture of the ginger and nori I bought.

The actual cooking was simple and quick, and the end product was delicious. I was worried that the ground chicken might be bland, so rather than using just ginger juice, I threw in a ½ tsp. of freshly grated ginger as well. I love ginger. However, there was plenty of flavor, and I could have gotten by with just the juice. On the other hand, a little more ginger was pretty good.

I thought the idea for defrosting and warming up the peas and corn was great, and I’ll definitely use that technique again. Also, I loved using a chopstick as a dividing line for creating the sections on top of the rice. What a great idea! The end product was beautiful, as Japanese dishes tend to be, and I felt pretty proud of myself just based on appearances alone!

When I make this again (and I’m sure I will—it was tasty, easy, healthy, and beautiful), I’ll start out with a little less rice in the bowl and use more ginger and nori on top.



When I read the recipe for the first challenge, I thought that it would be a good introduction – not too challenging, and all of the ingredients are something I had worked with before. I did substitute the ginger juice with juice that I drained from my jar of chopped raw ginger – I guess it’s not really a substitution as much of a shortcut, since it’s the same end result. Other than that I stayed true to the recipe. The ginger chicken turned out great! It is definitely something I’ll be making in the future for lunch. I loved the sweetness that the sugar added, and the balance between that and the salty soy sauce was very nice. I used frozen chicken and peas and I have to say they ended up tasting rather bland after reheating – I think next time I would reheat them by tossing them with something with a little flavor, or use something different – minced scrambled egg and another green veggie (broccoli?) comes to mind. This dish was definitely easy to make, I look forward to eating it again. My boyfriend said it was especially good reheated the next day but I wouldn’t know, as he ate all the leftovers up!

Read Rowr’s full account on her blog here!


** It’s not too late to join the Washoku Warriors! Just send me an email and we’ll get you all set up. The date of the 2nd challenge roundup is August 14, 2009.

Coming Tomorrow: Donburi Photo Essay

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

mamakd July 15, 2009 at 2:51 pm

I absolutely LOVE the new look!


Amber July 15, 2009 at 7:55 pm

That was so fun! I'm headed out tonight to get the ingredients for the next challenge

ps- Fuji Nana, I love your blue bowl


Kati Angelini July 15, 2009 at 8:44 pm

Wow-what beautiful photos of some amazing looking dishes-such a great and creative idea! thanks for sharing


Mel & Seigo July 16, 2009 at 12:46 am

Wow! I'm inspired!

Can you please post the recipe on here so I can try this out too?

Thanks in advance,

Melanie :)


Abigail (aka Mamatouille) July 16, 2009 at 10:56 pm

How gorgeous! Oishisou yo!!!

I just looked up the book on amazon.co.jp, but I think I'm going to have to wait on ordering it – I just don't want to have to ship too much stuff when we move (and this looks heavy!). Wish I could join the fun, though! Will be following along with your posts…

Ganbatte ne!


veron July 30, 2009 at 4:21 pm

Just ordered the book! I don't think I'll have enough time to make it to the August 14 th challenge but hopefully the next one!


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