how to make soboro

March 1, 2009

in basics,how-to

You may know this by now, but my boyfriend eats pretty much anything I put in his bento. But still, I usually try to put rice, veggies and meat or fish (protein) in his bento. I also try to save some time by cooking food that I can make a lot of and will keep for a long time. That’s why I use a lot of meatballs and hamburg. Soboro is a simple yet convenient meat recipe I often use. I didn’t really think soboro was anything special, but my boyfriend thought it was a very simple and useful food. As matter of a fact, I used soboro for my real rice cake last night! It totally saved me.

Traditional soboro is made with ground chicken, but I usually use ground beef because I have left over ground beef when I make meatballs and hamburg. You can also make it with ground pork or even a can of tuna!

[How to make soboro]
- 1/2 lb of ground beef or pork or chicken, or *2 cans of tuna
- 2 tbs of soy sauce or *3 tbs if you’re using tuna
- 1 tbs of sugar or *2 tbs if you’re using tuna
- 1 tbs of cooking sake or white wine or *1 tbs of mayonnaise if you’re using tuna

Cooking sake, soy sauce and sugar

1. Cook meat. Break up big chunks while you cook.

2. When the meat is cooked, set the heat to low and put all three ingredients in.

3. Mix it well and cook it until all the fluid is gone.

That’s it!

In fact, it’s so easy that I wasn’t sure if I could call it a recipe, but you can use soboro for many dishes, including bento, so I thought I’d do a how-to anyway.

Soboro has sweet & salty flavor, and it might taste a little too sweet or salty by itself, but you can sprinkle some it on rice or use with other food.

The most common way to use soboro is “Sanshoku-don.” (three colored rice bowl) You put rice in a bowl, and put soboro, sliced thin omelet (or scrambled eggs) and some green vegetables (such as scallion, spinach, etc…) on rice. I made “real rice cake” with the same ingredients, but with different presentation.

I also use soboro in left over potato salad to make croquettes. You can just put it in stir fried vegetables too. Since the meat is already seasoned, you don’t have to add too much spice to the veggies. That way, while vegetable tastes like vegetables, the meat will have a flavor.

For bento, I use soboro to create “ground,” such as in Bento #22: Farm bento left, and Farm bento right, Bento #31: Totoro snowman bento, Bento #32: Where the Wild Things Are bento left side and right side, and Bento #35: Tingle bento.

Since the meat is already cooked, it’ll last for a couple of days in the fridge too. Also you can also freeze it.

There’s a vegetarian version of soboro which uses tofu, but I haven’t tried it yet. I’ll make it someday and if I think it’s good, I’ll put a recipe on my blog.

How to make soboro on my flickr

For more pictures of my bento, visit Bento! set and Bento details! set on my flickr page.
If you have any questions about any of my how-to’s, please feel free to leave a comment or email me!

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

HeidiNo Gravatar March 3, 2009 at 9:17 am

This post makes me think of Cooking Mama. :) Now, why not add the er at the end of burger? Just wondering.


ShreelaNo Gravatar March 6, 2009 at 3:23 pm

Until your post, I’ve only heard of hamburger soboro. Could you post some photos of how tuna soboro is made please. I would like to see what it’s supposed to look like finished, since you’re putting in mayonnaise.

I hope canned tuna is ok; I have so much of that because of hurricane prep last spring, plus it being on sale, caused me to buy a lot (ps: buy small bottles of mayonnaise for hurricane preps so more tuna can be used while power is out — learned that the hard way, cuz we only like tuna with mayonnaise 8^)


IsabelNo Gravatar December 17, 2009 at 12:14 pm

A bit confused but is this how you end up making your meatballs as well? Make little balls from this recipe and bake them?


AnnaTheRedNo Gravatar December 21, 2009 at 6:05 pm

Hi Isabel,
This isn’t a recipe for meatballs. Meatballs are made with ground beef, chopped onion, panko (or bread). I mix the ingredients, make it into balls and fry them. (You can also boil or bake them.) After they’re cooled down, I can put them in an air-tight ziploc bag and freeze them.


JessiNo Gravatar July 3, 2010 at 8:58 pm

Thank you so much for posting this recipe!
I have been admiring your bentos and how-tos for some time now, and finally got a chance to try something, and this was what I did..
This has to be the best tasting chicken I have ever made.. lol
Just wanted to say that I love your site, and keep the how-tos coming!


servicefromheartNo Gravatar February 4, 2014 at 7:22 am

Thank you for sharing your recipe. You have inspired me with my simple soboro : http://servicefromheart.blogspot.sg/2014/02/easy-soboro-with-pink-steamed-rice.html


AnnaTheRedNo Gravatar March 12, 2009 at 10:56 pm

Hi Shreela, I just posted the pictures (and a quick how-to) of tuna soboro! I made one with American mayonnaise and one with Japanese mayonnaise, and the result was pretty interesting… Let me know if you have any questions!


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