Donburi Rice Bowl

Recipe: Donburi Rice Bowl

In an effort to cook more vegetarian food and provide a bit more variety during our lunchtime meals we started serving all sorts of meals in bowls. This started with a few simple rice bowl experiments but we quickly realized the combinations were endless. Quinoa, barley, pearl couscous, or any small pasta are all good substitutes for rice. You can even make cauliflower rice for people trying to go carb-free. Grilled halloumi cheese, mozzarella, marinated feta, and tofu all work alongside a poached or fried egg as sources of protein. You can throw in just about any vegetable you like cooked or raw and sauces can range from something as simple as soy sauce or sriracha to homemade vinaigrettes or our seriously addictive fermented hot sauce. The options seem just about endless.

Sometime after we started serving these meals, Caitriona picked up a copy of Bowls of Goodness by Nina Olsson. It’s a great resource for new flavor combinations and her Donburi recipe served as a good start for the recipe provided here. A few months ago during our gap year program Luna Doherty-Ryoke, one of our very talented students, suggested we try making a Donburi recipe. Luna’s father is Irish and her mother is Japanese so she grew up experiencing all sorts of fantastic Japanese home cooking. We loved all her suggestions and advice but this donburi recipe has got to be one of our favorites!

Eggplant and mushrooms, while certainly not meat substitutes, do provide a depth of flavor and texture that seems to satisfy even the most avid meat lover. When combined with the donburi sauce and cooked until the sauce thickens and the eggplant begins to break down, the subtly sweet and predominantly savory sauce is the perfect anchor for the clean rice base and sharper pickled flavors of the salad suggestions here. Whether we’re serving teens during our summer program or artists during one of our many residencies, this particular recipe seems to make just about every single one of our guests happy. Enjoy!

Donburi Rice Bowl

The following items are simply suggestions. Feel free to add or substitute any of the following toppings. One of the best things about this meal is everyone gets to build their own bowl. When serving at Cow House we simply put everything out and let our guests pick and choose what they want to include. In our experience, the quantities here serve six.

  • cooked sushi rice

  • eggplant & mushroom donburi

  • sweet pepper & radish quick pickle

  • smashed green beans

  • marinated cucumber

  • six fried eggs

  • sesame seeds for garnish

  • four thinly sliced spring onions

  • fermented chili sauce or sriracha

Sushi Rice: Ingredients

  • 540g sushi rice


Rinse the rice several times until the water runs clear. In a suitably sized container add the rice then fill with water. Using your hand, swirl the rice several times then pour out the water. It usually takes about four or five times before the water is clear. If using a rice cooker, add 600ml water to the fully drained rice and turn the cooker on. If using a pot, add 900ml water to the fully drained rice. Bring to a boil then immediately cover and reduce the burner to the lowest heat possible. Cook for 20 minutes.

Eggplant & Mushroom Donburi: Ingredients

  • 2 eggplant, diced

  • 750g mushrooms, chopped into quarters 

  • 3 tbsp sunflower oil

  • 100ml white wine

  • 3 tbsp sugar 

  • 160ml soy sauce 

  • 1tsp grated ginger 

  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated 

  • 1 sheet of nori torn into pieces (if you can’t find any you can omit this ingredient) 

  • 1 tbsp of sesame seeds


In a large pan heat the oil, add in the prepared mushrooms and eggplant. Stir and allow to cook for 10 mins. 

Mix together the remaining ingredients to make the donburi sauce. Stir until all the sugar is dissolved. Add this sauce to the pan and allow to cook for a further 25 mins until the sauce has reduced to the consistency of maple syrup.

Sweet Pepper & Radish Quick Pickle: Ingredients

  • 2 sweet peppers, thinly sliced 

  • 12 radishes, thinly sliced 

  • 1 cup of water

  • 1 cup of rice vinegar 

  • 1 tbsp salt 

  • 1 tbsp sugar 

  • 25g sliced ginger 


Mix the quick pickle ingredients together and stir. Pour over the sliced radishes and sweet peppers. Allow the mixture to sit for at least 30 minutes before serving.

**reserve 10tbsp of the pickle brine for the smashed green beans

Smashed Green Beans: Ingredients

  • 250g green beans 

  • **10 tbs of the quick pickle brine


Place the green beans in a plastic bag or wrap them in a bit of cling film. Using a rolling pin, smash green beans until they are slightly bruised and just beginning to break apart. Pour over the brine and leave to sit for approximately 15 minutes. Stir and leave for an additional 10 minutes. 

Marinated Cucumber: Ingredients

  • 1 large cucumber 

  • 4 tbsp soy sauce 

  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil 

  • 1 tsp brown sugar 

  • 1 tbsp water 

  • Juice of 1 lime 

  • 1 garlic clove, grated 

  • 1 tbsp ginger, grated


Slice with the cucumber thinly. In a pan add the remaining ingredients. Place on a medium/high heat and bring to a boil. Once it has reached boiling point, remove from the heat and pour over the cucumbers. Cover the bowl with cling film and place into the fridge until serving.

Other Recipes