Chef Shuko Oda is a food hero in London for the authentic and unfussy Japanese dishes she serves at Koya udon noodle restaurant.

Her focus is on generosity over gentility, with steaming bowls of sustenance served to hungry diners seated elbow-to-elbow at counters or at shared tables, where hospitality goes hand-in-hand with value and integrity.

Well, that was how life was at Koya – with restaurants in Soho and the City financial district – before the arrival of COVID-19, which has temporarily closed both and derailed the trend toward counter dining in London.

Shuko, who was born in Britain and has worked as a chef in Japan, supplied a recipe for a lamb rice bowl topped with a Japanese-style poached egg (onsen tamago).

I found the egg to be the trickiest part. If you haven’t poached an egg this way before, it’s worth practicing ahead of time. I managed to undercook the egg. Most of the ingredients should be available in stores or online, though I used salad leaves from the supermarket rather than tracking down mizuna.

Even with my shortcomings as a home cook, it was delicious.

Lamb-Cumin-Miso Donburi with Onsen Tamago

Serves 3

3 medium eggs

1 tbs. rapeseed oil

1 clove garlic, grated

1 tsp. fresh ginger, grated

2 tsp. ground coriander

2 tbs. ground cumin

21 oz. minced lamb shoulder

3 oz. cooking sake

2 tbs. soy sauce

5 tbs. sugar

1 scant cup red miso

1-1/2 cup Japanese short-grain rice

1 cucumber, julienned

Salad leaves (a few leaves per person of gem lettuce, oak leaf, butterhead and mizuna)

Herbs (a small handful per person: coriander, spring onion, shiso and mint, roughly chopped

Sesame seeds (optional)

Chili oil (optional)

Shichimi chili (optional)

Directions

For the Japanese poached eggs (onsen tamago): Boil enough water to cover the eggs, about 4 cups for 3 eggs. When the water is boiling rapidly, turn off the heat and add a scant cup of cold water. Gently place eggs in water, cover and let stand for 12-13 minutes. Remove eggs and place under cold running water until fully chilled to stop the cooking. Set aside.

For the lamb miso: Place rapeseed oil in a pan on low heat, then add garlic, ginger, coriander and cumin. Cook for a minute or until you start to smell the spices. Add lamb and mix until the color changes completely. Add sake, soy sauce and sugar; mix occasionally until the juice from the meat is reduced by about half. Add red miso and mix until blended, then turn off the heat.

For the rice: Place in colander and wash five times, draining each time. Transfer rice to a pot with 1-1/2 to 2 cups water to soak for about an hour. Cover and bring to a boil at medium-to-low heat. Reduce heat to low and cook another 10-15 minutes. Turn off heat and let steam for 10 minutes. Stir up rice from the bottom of the pot.

Divide rice among three serving bowls. Place cucumber, salad leaves and herbs on one side, lamb miso on the other. Top each bowl with a poached egg. Add sesame seeds, chili oil or shichimi chili to taste if desired.


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