Basic meat soboro, a great bento staple
A soboro is rather like furikake, except that it's moister. It's used like furikake in many situations - sprinkled onto rice, folded into other things like eggs, and more. Soboro can be made of ground meat, flaked fish (though fish soboro is often called oboro instead), or egg (egg soboro is often called iri tamago, just to keep you confused!) Meat soboro (niku soboro) keeps for about a week in the refrigerator, and freezes beautifully, making it a great bento johbisai or staple for the omnivore.
This is a fairly universal recipe that you can use for ground meat of any kind - beef, pork, veal, turkey. I would use another formula for chicken, which has a more delicate flavor. (But ground chicken isn't available here, so I don't make chicken soboro that often since I have to grind up the meat myself.)
If you use a very lean meat, such as turkey, you may want to add a bit more oil. My preference is to use lean ground beef (in the U.S. about 90% lean).
- 450g / 1lb ground beef, pork, veal, turkey or a combination of any
- 1 to 2 Tbs. sesame oil
- 1/2 cup finely chopped green onion, green and white parts both (about 2 stalks)
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 piece fresh ginger, finely chopped to yield about 2 Tbs. of chopped ginger
- 2 Tbs. sugar
- 2 Tbs. sake
- 3 Tbs. dark soy sauce
- 3 to 4 Tbs. oyster sauce
Equipment: a large non-stick frying pan or a wok
Chop up all the vegetables as fine as you can.
Heat up 1 Tbs. of sesame oil in the pan. Add the vegetables and stir fry until softened. Add the meat and brown well.
Add the sugar, and stir around until it's caramelized a bit.
Add the sake; stir around to evaporate.
Add the soy sauce and oyster sauce. Let simmer until the liquid is almost gone, but the meat is still moist. Taste for seasoning at this point and add a little soy sauce or salt if you think it needs it. (Keep in mind that it's made to eat with something bland, like rice, so it should be quite strongly flavored.)
Note: if you keep cooking it until the meat is thoroughly dried out, it becomes a meat furikake with longer keeping qualities. I prefer to keep it at the soboro stage though.
About 40 calories per tablespoon
Ways to use soboro
I'll show soboro in use in future bentos, but here are just some ideas to get you going:
- The classic - soboro bento, which is a take on soboro don (or soboro donburi) - soboro on top of plain rice. It's nice to top a soboro bento with some sansho powder. Example here.
- As an onigiri filling. Make a little clump of cooled soboro for this. If your soboro is too oily, the grease may leak out and make the onigiri fall apart, so you may want to wrap it in nori or keep it wrapped in plastic wrap.
- Mixed with egg for a soboro-tamagoyaki. Since the soboro is fairly salty, you'll want to keep the egg mixture low in salt.
- Stir fried with vegetables. The soboro acts as seasoning as well as protein.