Friday, March 1, 2013

Continuing a Zen Kitchen Study: Tamagoyaki

This is the third installment of this particular trilogy focused on Japanese cuisine. This will most definitely become part of a continuous series, as we move on through experimenting with new techniques.

Tamagoyaki is a wonderfully simple dish. My history with it started with a shared dinner in a third floor university dorm kitchen. A friend from Korea and a friend from Japan wanted to share a meal with us and prepare some traditional dishes for us to try. Needless to say, I was incredibly excited about soaking up all of that food information. This may have been the first instance in which I was paying attention and questioning cooking methods in order to replicate them in my own kitchen later on. Hm, funny how that came about. Our meal began with tamagoyaki.

If you are not familiar with tamagoyaki, it is basically an egg omelet rolled up on itself and sliced in to pieces, not unlike a sushi roll. Tamago, meaning egg in Japanese, is often seen on Japanese restaurant menus here in the States, and it comes cut into a rectangle and served nigiri-style atop some sushi rice and banded with a strip of nori seaweed (beware of pre-made packaged tamago...please, if you can't fry an egg, you really shouldn't be running a restaurant). The intriguing part for me was that tamagoyaki is sweet egg dish, and I had only ever had eggs in a savory fashion...usually doused in hot sauce or seasoned with chili powder, curry, salt and pepper. The sweet egg is a happy side to any meal, traditional Japanese or not. I found it especially calming when we were introduced to some spicy kimchi later on in our meal.

The only trick is in the technique, which I will detail below, but it will beg a little patience, especially if you aren't into multitasking inside a hot frying pan.

4-6 Eggs
1 T or so of Sugar
Dash of Soy sauce
Cooking oil
Sesame seeds or seaweed for garnish (optional)

Tamagoyaki begins with fresh, bright eggs whisked to oblivion. You want to achieve fluffiness in between each layer. Whisk in your sugar and soy sauce and you're ready for the hard part.

Heat a frying pan over medium heat and drizzle with cooking oil. This can be canola oil with a dash of sesame oil for some flavor, or whatever you think tastes good. When the oil is shimmering, ladle in your first layer of egg. You want to make sure that it covers the bottom of the pan. When that starts to cook just enough that you can move it, you want to start rolling it up on itself--so take one side and roll it as you would a burrito. When you get to the other side, let the roll sit there and ladle in another layer of egg, making sure that it covers the bottom of the pan again--so do a little swish action if need be. When that layer starts to set, take your already existing roll and roll up the new egg layer in the opposite direction. You continue building these layers, rolling it back and forth until all of your egg is used up and you have a nice round roll of sweet egg!

Note rolling technique: Tamagoyaki
Take that egg roll out of the pan and slice it into pieces. It should be bite-sized, and the size of a sushi roll.

It's quick, easy, and a delicious and balanced accompaniment to any meal!

1 comment:

  1. I have to try this! Sounds Great and looks easy!! <3 Thank you!