~ Tamagoyaki: A Fried & Rolled Japanese Omelette~
Leave it to the Japanese to turn a plain omelette into a work of neatly-rolled edible art that's as good tasting as it is pretty to look at. "Tomago" means "egg" in Japanese and "yaki" means "to grill or grilled". Tomagoyaki is essentially: the scrambled egg of Japan. They eat them for breakfast, pack them into bento boxes for lunch, and, serve them alongside other foods, like sushi. Back in 1986, on my first morning in Tokyo, my first tamagoyaki was served with a small salad of pickled fish and pickled ginger. It was in our hotel's dining room (The Imperial Hotel), and, it was such a delightful way to start the day, it became my breakfast for the next 10 days.
A bit about tamagoyaki: Unlike other omelettes, this two- or four-egg omelette does not typically contain any herbs or filling. The subtle but significant flavor comes from the amount and balance of sugar, soy sauce and mirin (rice wine) that gets whisked into the eggs. How it's seasoned differs from cook to cook and some tamagoyaki are quite sweet from sugar, while others are saltier from soy sauce. Since it holds its shape so well, the omelette can be served hot, warm, at room temperature, or cold. The process is a simple one whereby the egg mixture is added to the pan in increments and thin layers are rolled into itself (into a log shape) until the egg mixture is gone. It's taught to Japanese children at a young age, and, while it seems complicated, once mastered, the omelette can be made in less than five minutes.
A two- or a four- egg tamagoyaki is prepared in the home in a small or medium-sized rectangular pan called a makiyakinabe. A larger square-shaped pan is used in sushi restaurants to make a slightly-thicker variation. In Japan, the pans are often given as a small wedding gift, and, I think they'd make a great gift for any cook here in the USA too. These nicely-priced pans are available on-line (about $15.00).
If you think it's more trouble than it's worth -- it's worth it -- and it's charmingly fun too!
2 or 4 large eggs
2 or 4 teaspoons sugar
1/2 or 1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 or 1 teaspoon rice wine (not rice wine vinegar)
1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
no-stick cooking spray or vegetable oil
~ Step 1. Using a fork, whisk together the eggs, sugar, soy sauce, rice wine and salt. Note: At this point, the mixture is typically poured through a fine mesh strainer to remove tiny pieces of membrane from the egg, which turn white when cooked. I don't do this, but, feel free to do so if those little pieces of perfectly edible white bother you.
Spray inside of makiyakinabe with no-stick or add a thin coating of vegetable oil and ready a thin nonstick spatula and 2 tablespoon measure. Place pan over medium heat, 20-30 seconds.
This series of unedited time-lapse photos illustrates the process perfectly:
~ Photos 1 thru 4. For a two-egg omelette (which I've made and photographed today), place a scant 2 tablespoons of egg mixture into hot pan. Lift and rotate pan to evenly distribute egg mixture in bottom. Lifting the pan up and off the heat and back down and onto the heat 2-3 times, cook the first egg layer until it is just short of being set, about 20-30 seconds. Using the spatula, gently roll the egg layer up and into the opposite side of the pan.
~ Photos 5 thru 24. Repeat this process 5 more times, until the egg mixture is gone. Remove from heat and allow omelette to rest and set up a bit in the pan about 1-2 minutes.
Transfer to a plate & slice a 2-egg omelette into 4-6 slices (a 4-egg omelette into 6-8)...
Special Equipment List: 1-cup measuring container; fork; small- (6" x 4") or medium-sized (7" x 5") makiyakinabe; thin nonstick spatula; 2 tablespoon measure
Cook's Note: I have lots of foodie tales to tell about Japan and have shared several here on KE. My favorite perhaps, revolves around yakitori. You can find all of my posts ~ My Japanese Takitori Story & All the Facts Jack ~, ~ Japanese 'Yakitori no Tare' (BBQ/Basting Sauce) ~, ~ Japanese 'Yakitori' (Skewered & Grilled Chicken) ~, and, ~ Time Out to Define: Sukiyaki, Teriyaki & Yakitori ~, in Category 13.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)