Prawn, Shiitake & Tofu Ankake Donburi

Prawn, Shiitake & Tofu Ankake Donburi

I made a very similar dish earlier on Monday. I had just gotten home from uni, starving, cold, and just a tiny bit cranky. In such a volatile state, it was very likely I would’ve succumbed to the lazy option of a bowl of cereal. Oddly enough, I prepared a prawn & tofu stew of sorts using mirin, sake, miso, smoked pancetta (yea, odd one out) and lots of negi. It worked and I think a part of me was shocked it had because honestly, cranky cooking isn’t always a very wise thing to do.

I wanted to recreate the flavours for a donburi. Why I was so motivated to have a donburi was also due to my newly purchased bowl. You can check it out in the pictures. It’s even got a cute little ceramic cover like those claypots you normally see at Chinese restaurants. Was unbelievably chuffed all of yesterday about my bowl. I even got it out and showed it to the flatmate and her boyrfriend too. I was all giggles and big grins. And you know what else I absolutely love about my new bowl? If I wanted to have pickles with my donburi, all I need to do is to flick over the cover which is helping to keep my just-cooked meal nicely warm, put the pickles on the underside of the cover which when flipped, acts as a little side-dish. How awesome is that! Most donburi bowls I find are a little too large so I end up filling it up to only halfway which looks a little silly. And if I fill it all the way, it’s too much food for me to consume at a go (actually I lie, sometimes I can eat a horse if you could bang it up into a soup and therefore downsize it into mouth-friendly portions- sorry if that was crude). This guy is just purrr-fact.

Prawn, Shiitake & Tofu Ankake Donburi 2

In my walk-in kitchen – and I call it that because it’s so ridiculously small and crappy I could cry – I own very little. 1 cereal bowl, 2 plates, 2 Cath Kidston mugs (1 given to me for my birthday), 1 milkpan and small frying pan (given to me by S’s mum for my birthday as well), 1 glass mixing bowl, 1 colander, some cooking utensils and cutlery. That is literally owning next to nothing. And I don’t complain because the kitchen has very little to offer as well: no oven, 2 ridiculously tempermental electric hobs, zero work space, 1 crapbag microwave/grill, next-to-zero pantry cupboard space – and that is something we can’t change since we’re all moved in and literally living in the coolest, trendiest bit of Central London. So gifting myself this humble bowl makes me very happy and even happier to use it. (I thought about an ice cream maker but that in comparison to my small kitchen would be a monster of gadget.)

But anyhow, another recent purchase was the Everyday Harumi cookbook, just one of the cookbooks I’ve had on my Amazon wishlist for a while now. The pictures in here are seriously good and the recipes so easy to follow (very similar to things my mum would cook at home – a very heartwarming cookbook). It’s too bad for the others that they didn’t get purchased but I thought was a longtime coming. After flipping through it, I was glad to see a recipe for something quite similar and incorporating an ankake sauce. This sauce is made by thickening seasoned dashi stock with a potato starch and water mix. It is very tasty and goes so wonderfully well with rice; therefore making donburi one of the best comfort foods for me. When the day is as grey as heck from morning til evening, surely a bowl of rice will bring a little sunshine into my cupboard-sized bedroom?

Prawn, Shiitake & Tofu Ankake Donburi 3

I haven’t followed Harumi’s recipe exactly. In fact, I’ve used some different ingredients but I’ve basically followed her ankake sauce recipe quite closely. I think this dish is spanking good and you can try it with loads of other types of ingredients. Smoked pancetta cubes was a bit of an odd one out. But I do love pairing it with prawns and seafood in general – as you can see from my past King Prawn Pancetta Fried Rice post. Very comforting, very easy to make. I have a feeling my mama would be proud.

A little word about potato starch – you can find this in Asian supermarkets. I got a packet which cost a little over a quid from my Japanese grocer – a really large packet actually so it’s good to invest in it and just keep it in the pantry for future use. Also, potato starch is a lot stronger than cornstarch as a thickening agent so you don’t need large quantities to get the required texture. It mixes a lot easier than cornstarch I find, so you don’t get those bitty pockets of starch like if you used cornstarch or worse, plain flour.

Prawn, Shiitake & Tofu Ankake Donburi 4

This recipe yields 2 servings.

Prawn, Shiitake & Tofu Ankake Donburi

    • 1 cup shelled prawns


    • 4 fresh shiitake mushrooms


    • 2 Japanese negi (or large spring onions), sliced into 1.5″ lengths


    • 1 small red onion, halved then wedged and sliced


    • 2 tbs smoked pancetta cubes


    • 1 packet firm silken tofu, cubed


    • 1 tbs soy sauce


    • 1 tbs cooking sake


    • 1 tbs mirin


    • 1/2 sugar


    • 150ml dashi stock (I’ve used a sardine one rather than a kelp stock)


    • 1 tbs potato starch


    • 1 tbs cold water


    • 1/2 tbs chopped fresh garlic


    • light olive oil, for cooking


    • ground black pepper, for seasoning


    • black sesame seeds, for garnish


    • reserve the greens of negi/spring onions, finely chopped for garnish


    2 servings hot steamed rice

Prepare vegetables. Clean mushrooms, trim the stalks and either finely slice them or leave them whole and star the top with a knife. This ensures that it gets cooked through (similar concept to brussel sprouts) and also looks pretty. My mum prepares it with the star for oden hotpots but I generally like to cook my shiitake mushrooms this way.

For the ankake sauce: In a small bowl, add the soy sauce, mirin, sake, sugar to prepared dashi stock. You may use any type you’ve got on hand but I prefer using a sardine or bonito one as it gives a bigger flavour than kelp stock I find. Mix together thoroughly and set aside. In another bowl, mix together the potato starch with a tbs of cold water. You’ll need to give it a quick mix again before using as this will settle whilst you let it stand.

In a large frying pan or wok, heat some oil. When hot, add the garlic, pancetta cube and red onions. Sauté. Then add the negi/spring onions, mushrooms and prawns.

Add the ankake sauce mixture. When it comes to a boil, add the potato starch mix to thicken the sauce, stirring so that it becomes thicker evenly without bits of jellified starch.

Separate hot cooked rice into two donburi bowls, serve the ankake over it. Garnish with chopped negi/spring onions and sesame seeds. Finally, take a deep breath, savour the gorgeous smell and tuck in!

21 Responses to “Prawn, Shiitake & Tofu Ankake Donburi”
The Cooking NinjaThe Cooking Ninja Says:
January 20th, at 3:59 pm
wow! That looks delicious. I don’t have firm silken tofu nor fresh shiitake mushroom here. 🙁 But I’ll try to replace it with something else n see if I can find the rest in the asian store here. So yummy your stew.

Sarah, Maison CupcakeSarah, Maison Cupcake Says:
January 20th, at 5:07 pm
I absolutely want this for dinner. You obviously are the person to consult about where to source Japanese stuff in London. I never know where to get dashi from. xx

MaryMohMaryMoh Says:
January 20th, at 5:13 pm
Aha…my 3 favourites in a pot…tofu, mushroom & prawns! Looks very delicious. I would be so happy to have this with rice 🙂

Su-yinSu-yin Says:
January 20th, at 7:03 pm
I’ve just got back from work, am starving (even after snacking on a ham sandwich), and I would do anything to have this right now. 😛 Looks great – I love shittakes in everyeverything, so this is definitely something I would do.

I completely understand the bowl excitement! I’m on the search for a nice claypot for both cooking and… err photos.

noobcooknoobcook Says:
January 20th, at 11:32 pm
This is my kind of meal! hehe I like the addition of pancetta – sounds like secret ingredient ;p

divadiva Says:
January 21st, at 9:05 am
The Cooking Ninja: you can definitely replace it with other ingredients and that’s what’s brilliant about donburi. Like any stirfry, you can play with whatever you’ve got at hand 🙂

Sarah, Maison Cupcake: oh if you ever need to find Asian ingredients, I could help with recommending a few places. Even online retail stores as well, as those often come in handy when I can’t be bothered to make the trip myself!

MaryMoh: Actually now that you’ve mentioned it, these 3 ingredients do often come served together in a pot don’t they? Suppose it’s one of those everyone’s-favourite-combo types!

Su-yin: Haha, Ms. Snacking, we are so on the same frequency!!! Yea…Pam was talking about getting a nice claypot too. I would love to have one around too. Unfortunately it would be very unpractical in my ridiculous kitchen. I do have a large one at home though and that always makes me smile. It’s got cute little hand-painted patterns on it.

Noobcook: secret ingredient? ooooh. I like the sound of that!

MowieliciousMowielicious Says:
January 21st, at 9:37 am
That looks very appetizing – yum! Donburi is definitely comfort food for me. I might have to pay a visit to Whole foods later for ingredients – they always have such a great variety

divadiva Says:
January 21st, at 9:45 am
Mowielicious: oh Whole Foods is just this wonderful haven isn’t it but i gotta say it’s so ridiculously expensive sometimes. They do fresh hijiki salad at the fresh counter but so pricey! Nonetheless, I do love going to work as it means I can stop by Whole Foods and ogle/drool til the security guard decides to chuck me out for obstructing food shopper traffic. LOL


Jeanne @ Cooksister!Jeanne @ Cooksister! Says:
January 21st, at 2:43 pm
LOL – your kitchen sounds like my rented kitchen. In which I lived for NINE YEARS!! aaarrrgh. People used to come for lunch, having seen my blog, look inside and ask “you sure you make ALL the food on your blog in THIS?!”. I should add, though, that i had the advantage of an oven, albeit a smaller-than-standard one…

This looks heavenly – pure comfort indeed! I so seldom get my sticky mitts on fresh shiitake and I do so love them.

Sweets at VickySweets at Vicky’s Says:
January 21st, at 2:59 pm
Hey there! What an inspired donburi. I’m so accustomed to the normal oyako don or katsu don. This is definitely a version i’d love to try.

Kitchen ButterflyKitchen Butterfly Says:
January 21st, at 8:25 pm
We food bloggers are passionate about bowls and props aren’t we? I feel your excitement about all the things you can do with 2 pieces of ceramic!!!!!! And this looks spankingly good and healthy too

So Spiffy (Girl Japan)So Spiffy (Girl Japan) Says:
January 21st, at 10:47 pm
I totally agree with Kitchen Butterfly…. haha I need more bowls too…first I have to find time to keep blogging.

I absolutely love shitake… that is a mushroom I could eat, eat and eat.. I would use shitake in dishes that call for other shrooms…. I love your creation… also… who says their are donburi rules anyway? hehe

zurinzurin Says:
January 22nd, at 11:12 am
Gosh Its been a long time since ive been here! uve been busy havent you? that dish looks so good and I love claypots! :))Ill have to come back to check out ur other creations …:)

Simply LifeSimply Life Says:
January 22nd, at 2:13 pm
Oh this looks great!

Carol EgbertCarol Egbert Says:
January 22nd, at 2:14 pm
This sounds like a great flavor combo. Thanks for the post.

Lee Ann FosterLee Ann Foster Says:
January 22nd, at 3:59 pm
Dear SugarBar,

I need to get back to these kinds of soups, mine have been more on the puree side, would miso ruin this?

Every thing you make is simply gorgeous, and without all the bells and whistles.

HélèneHélène Says:
January 23rd, at 6:21 am
This is such a great dish. Gorgeous pictures 🙂

Bethany (Dirty Kitchen Secrets)Bethany (Dirty Kitchen Secrets) Says:
January 24th, at 12:55 pm
Wow! You’ve just turned me off everything I was about to go cook with this fantastic sounding and looking dish! Right up my alley. will have to try soon.

Sinful Southern SweetsSinful Southern Sweets Says:
January 24th, at 1:21 pm
This looks fabulous! Would it be wrong to make this for breakfast 🙂

food-4totsfood-4tots Says:
January 24th, at 5:42 pm
A healthy yet flavourful donburi packed with all the wonderful ingredients I like! Must be super-yummy!

CarstenCarsten Says:
January 26th, at 6:52 pm
Hi, I wasnt sure how to contact you so I left a comment here. Your blog is really great and I wanted to invite you to join our food & wine socialnetwork @ If you sign up you can share links, rss feeds and photos from your own blog.