In a food culture that values aesthetics almost as much as taste, it’s not entirely surprising that even the humble omelette fell foul of an extreme Japanese makeover. Thankfully though, tamagoyaki’s impressive presentation isn’t at the expense of its flavour!
Eaten throughout Japan, tamagoyaki’s appeal lies in its versatility, both in terms of its taste and uses. Because the omelette is served at room temperature, it makes the ideal addition to bento boxes and makes a great nigiri sushi topping. More commonly though, tamagoyaki is eaten as part of a Japanese breakfast. While typically served plain, tamagoyaki often have a “filling” in the centre – salmon/tuna flakes, fish roe or blanched spinach are all popular choices. Torn-up sheets of nori can also be added, these are layered on the egg mixture as it sets. This not only tastes great, but it also looks very impressive! Whilst all versions of tamagoyaki contain some sugar, some are very sweet – it is really up to you how much sugar you want to use.
Tamagoyaki are usually cooked in a rectangular pan called a makiyakinabe. While it is possible to make it in a regular pan, the finished product will be less than perfect. With a bit of trimming though, you should be able to approximate the desired shape. It does take a while to “master” the technique of rolling the omelette, but with a calm head and a bit of patience, you’ll get the hang of it in no time. Timing is key, you need to start rolling the omelette whilst the egg is still a little wet, otherwise the “layers” won’t stick together. You’ll have a few mishaps along the way, but you’ll get it right soon enough. There is something immensely satisfying about making your own tamagoyaki, even if it’s not perfect!
Tamagoyaki (Rolled Omelette): Makes 1
- 4 large eggs
- 3 tbsp. dashi stock, cooled
- 1 tbsp. caster sugar
- 1/2 tsp. soya sauce
- Salt, just a pinch
- Combine all the ingredients into a bowl and whisk thoroughly. Strain the egg mixture through a sieve for a uniform colour
- Heat a rectangular omelette pan and add a little bit of oil. Using a piece of kitchen paper, spread the oil around the pan
- Pour 1/4 of the egg mixture into the pan, making sure the egg spreads evenly
- Just before it sets, roll the omelette away from you towards the front of the pan – I use two chopsticks to do this
- Push the roll to the back of the pan
- Add the same amount of egg mixture to the pan again. Slightly lift the first roll so that some of the wet egg mixture adheres to the bottom of the roll.
- Using the first roll of egg, roll the omelette towards the front of the pan
- Repeat the process until all the egg mixture is used up
- Place the finished omelette on a chopping board and allow to cool for a moment
- Cover with cling-film, and using a sushi rolling-mat, gently mould the omelette into your preferred shape (I like a rectangular omelette)
- Remove the cling-film and place on a cooling rack (not a chopping board as this will make the omelette soggy)
- Allow to cool completely before slicing