Salmon Donburi

Well, I made it through this week. It’s seemed especially long – maybe because of this insane heat! It came out of nowhere, and let me tell you, there is nothing more excruciating than a New York City summer. Remember, I lived in Arizona for 8 years, and honestly, the dry, desert heat makes a huge difference! The humidity combined with rarely cleaned subways, hoards of sweaty people, car exhaust, and lord knows what else makes for a smelly, sticky experience. It’s the time of year that you have to put down the blow dryer, stop worrying about your make-up, and embrace the disgusting mess that you and everyone around you has become. Oh, and don’t forget to grab that coveted standing spot on the subway underneath the doors – there’s air conditioning ’round those parts! That sweet, sweet relief is worth fighting for, so beware those who get in my way. Thankfully, Kramer and I have a few things to look forward to in the coming weeks. We’re going to Portland for the Fourth of July, and then to the Hamptons with his family in August, so those trips should keep us looking forward to fun and (hopefully) cooler times. I also plan to spend lots of time at the movies, and seeing as how there are tons of awesome blockbusters coming out this year, I won’t have trouble deciding on what to see.

In the spirit of beating the heat, I made this Salmon Donburi for dinner a few nights ago. If you have a rice cooker, like I do, it requires no oven or stove at all. If you don’t have a rice cooker, then yeah, you can make your rice the old fashioned way, but they are quite inexpensive and essentially fool proof, so I highly recommend picking one up ASAP. For those of you who have never had a donburi bowl before, it is simple, delicious, and filling. Just make some sushi rice (or use leftover rice, but the sticky and sweet sushi rice really makes this dish incredible) and add whatever you like on top. In this case, we used raw salmon, so this can also be called a “hokkadon”. I tossed my salmon in a quick dressing of rice wine vinegar, mirin, ginger, and thinly slice scallions, then threw everything in a bowl and immediately devoured all of it. I think this might be Kramer’s new favorite dinner – he’s already requested a weekly donburi appearance and I am happy to oblige him, especially because there’s not much cooking involved. I was lucky enough to find this beautiful, bright red wild salmon, but any good quality fish will do. This is a great meal to serve for families, too, because you can lay out lots of different toppings and everyone can create their own bowl. Who doesn’t love an interactive dinner, am I right? Have a great weekend and try not to turn the oven on!

Salmon Donburi
What you’ll need for the rice and the salmon.

Salmon Donburi
Combine the grated ginger, rice wine vinegar, mirin, and scallions in a small bowl and set aside.

Salmon Donburi
Rinse your rice in cold water until it runs clear, stirring gently with your hands, then cook in your rice cooker according to your machine’s directions, or on the stove according to the package directions.

Salmon Donburi
Spread the rice out on a large baking sheet.

Salmon Donburi
Pour the combined rice wine vinegar and sugar over the rice, stirring gently.

Salmon Donburi
See how it is nice and shiny?

Salmon Donburi
Cover the rice with a damp cloth until you are ready to use it.

Salmon Donburi
Before your slice your fish, be sure to remove any skin.

Salmon Donburi
Arrange the salmon on top of your rice, garnish, and serve.

Salmon Donburi
  • 2 cups uncooked short grain rice (usually this is just labeled as 'sushi rice')
  • 2 cups water (for cooking - you will need plenty of water for rinsing/washing the rice)
  • 6 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • tiny pinch of kosher salt (less than ⅛ teaspoon)
  • 1 pound salmon, filleted and thinly sliced
  • 4-5 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons mirin
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger, grated (or finely minced)
  • thinly sliced seaweed (for garnish)
  • extra scallions (for garnish)
  1. Place your rice in a mesh sieve and begin to rinse it under cold water, shaking it gently as the water runs, so that all of the grains get washed. Do this until the water runs completely clear - it should take 8-10 minutes. I used my hands to move the rice around to be sure that it was completely rinsed. You might think that the water is running clear after 3-5 minutes, but let the rice sit a moment, then start rinsing it again, and you will see that it's not ready yet, so just be diligent. Some people soak the rice in water for an additional 30 minutes, then rinse it again, but I made this after work and didn't have that much time - if you want to do it the 'proper' way, though, go ahead and soak and rinse again.
  2. Drain the rice well, shaking it so that as much water is removed from the rice as possible. This, again, should take 3-5 minutes. Place the rice in your rice cooker and add 2 cups of water to the rice. Start the rice cooker and let it go until it has finished, then let it stand for 5 minutes or so. Alternatively, if you do not have a rice cooker, you can cook the rice on your stove top according to the sushi rice package's directions.
  3. While the rice cooks, place the rice wine vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small pot and bring to a boil. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved, then set aside to cool slightly.
  4. When the rice is ready, spread it out onto a large baking sheet in a thin layer, and slowly pour the vinegar mixture over it, gently moving the rice around so that all sides of all of the grains absorbs the vinegar. You may not need all of the vinegar, but the rice should be shiny and smooth looking when you are done. Taste it, and add more vinegar if you like (I used all of mine because I love the taste, but some people have limits). Place a wet paper towel over the whole pan of rice until you are ready to use it.
  5. First, slice your salmon as thinly as possible. If your salmon has skin on it, simply slice a small sliver near the tail so that you can grab the skin, place the knife at an angle, and pull the skin while keeping the knife in place so that you peel the skin away from the fish itself. Slice the fish thinly, at an angle, and place in a bowl. Gently mix together, using your hands, with the scallions, mirin, rice wine vinegar, and grated ginger.
  6. To make the donburi, place some of your sushi rice in a bowl and arrange the sliced fish on top, then garnish with a few more scallions and some seaweed. Serve immediately.


14 Responses

  1. Wow. I’ve never heard of this! It looks really beautiful and perfect for a hot summer meal.

  2. RK says:

    Looks amazing. What kind of salmon did you use?

  3. Deanna B says:

    Oh that salmon is stunning. I need this. Like now. Well maybe not now because its not even 10 am, but definitely soon. Very, very soon.

  4. Rachael says:

    You know I know very well what donburi is and I wasn’t going to even click on the link because I was like ‘eh, whatev…’ but now I am totally hungry for it and want to tackle more sushi this summer…Interesting, using sockeye! Do you prefer that over pre-sliced sushi grade sashimi, or is it just more cost effective?
    yum yum yum

  5. Lindsey says:

    this looks delish, and that salmon is absolutely beautiful.

    you’ll have to scope out some fun places in Portland to share, I’ll be there mid-July with my Mom!

  6. Chopsticks says:

    Did you know that it is bad etiquette and bad luck to cross your chopsticks? Just a little tip! The dish looks so colorful and flavorful. Wow!

  7. Oh my, this is so fancy yet it requires so little ingredients! I have most of it at home anyway, I just need to pick up the salmon!

  8. Love it!!! It’s almost like an Asian ceviche. Can’t wait to make it.

  9. Lynna says:

    Gorgeous photos Sydney! I haven`t had donburi before, even though I eat quite a bit of Japanese food…but since you`ve posted a recipe, I guess I have no choice, but to try! ;D

  10. Despite living in Japan for a year I have never made a -don bowl myself. I’ll eat any of it, whether its katsu-don (pork), or with beef, or salmon. Yours looks delish and is definitely just what the doctor ordered in disgusting heat waves like this. No turning on the oven? Yes please!

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  13. […] but the idea of not turning on the oven or the stove is just too tempting to pass up. We loved our Salmon Donburi so much, that I wanted to come up with more ways to showcase this fantastic sockeye salmon that […]

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