The Yomiuri ShimbunThis series presents basic information and tips for preparing washoku dishes. Featured in this final installment are tamagoyaki rolled omelets, one of the most popular side dishes in washoku.
There are two general styles of tamagoyaki: A sweet-tasting one popular in eastern Japan and dashimaki tamago — rich in the flavor of dashi broth — common in western parts of the nation. Toru Okuda, chef and owner of Japanese restaurant Ginza Kojyu in Tokyo, showed how to make both types.
The key to tasty tamagoyaki is the smoothness of the texture, according to Okuda.
The egg whites should be beaten well before being mixed with the yolks. After adding the seasonings, pour the mixture into a strainer or fine-mesh sieve (photo 1). This step is crucial, as it helps the tamagoyaki be evenly seasoned, as well as preventing the whites and yolks from forming patchy patterns while being cooked.
To beat the eggs, it’s desirable to use a relatively large bowl and a whisk. If the egg mixture remains at the bottom of the strainer, you should strain further while mixing with the whisk.
Dashi is used for both types because “the broth helps rolled omelets become fluffy,” Okuda said.
For the dashimaki tamago type, 30 to 40 milliliters of dashi are necessary per egg, while sweet-tasting tamagoyaki requires half that amount.
The sweet-tasting tamagoyaki includes beaten eggs mixed with dashi, sugar and soy sauce.
“If they’re made for a bento boxed meal, you can decide how strong their flavor should be depending on other featured dishes, or add more sugar for your children,” Okuda said.
On the other hand, in preparing dashimaki tamago, you should add salt and soy sauce to dashi first before mixing with the beaten eggs.
“Mixing beaten eggs with dashi first makes it difficult for you to feel the subtle flavor of dashi and therefore adjust the seasoning,” Okuda said.
To cook, it is best to use a rectangle-shaped pan designed for tamagoyaki.
First, spread some cooking oil over the surface using a paper towel. The pan should be heated until a drop of the egg mixture on the pan sizzles on contact. Then pour a scoop of the egg mixture all over the pan. Break any bubbles with chopsticks.
While the egg is half-cooked, start folding it from the handle end of the pan to the top. With the initial rolled omelet at the top end of the pan, spread some more cooking oil on the handle end. Pour another scoop of the egg mixture and slightly lift the initial omelet with chopsticks to let the mixture spread all over the pan (photo 2). Break any bubbles and start folding the second batch from the top end toward the handle end. Repeat this process until all the egg mixture has been used.
It is useful to use a makisu bamboo sushi roll mat to remove it from the pan. Put the makisu over the pan and place your hand gently on the bamboo mat while turning the pan over. Wrap the rolled omelet with the makisu to fix the shape and let sit (photo 3).
“It’s important for you to become accustomed to cooking tamagoyaki by making them many times,” Okuda said. “Use your own taste buds to find the seasoning method that suits you.”
(for 1 rolled omelet):
75 ml dashi broth
3⅓ tbsp sugar
1⅓ tbsp light soy sauce
150 ml dashi broth
⅔ tsp light soy sauce
⅓ tsp salt
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