Judging from his work on Iron Chef and Iron Chef America, you probably already have a sense that Masaharu Morimoto really knows his way around the kitchen. In his book, Mastering the Art of Japanese Cooking, Chef Morimoto has a recipe for tamagoyaki, a Japanese egg dish that not only looks delicious but is also fairly simple to make. As in, you don’t need to have Iron Chef skills to make it. “Basically, every family has its own tamagoyaki recipe,” Morimoto told me. You can even buy it at the supermarket.
Often called a Japanese omelet, this slightly sweet, custardy marvel might confuse anyone expecting the savory, fluffy, herb-flecked Western version. Yet one bite will turn you into a devotee. The magic is in the method, which creates many layers of eggy goodness. Most cooks use a kotobuki tamagoyaki, a special pan made for the dish, which you can have shipped to your door for just $20. If you don’t want to invest in a special piece of equipment a nonstick skillet will do fine, though. Great warm for dinner or cold in a bento box the next day, tamagoyaki is one example of Japanese home cooking that takes a little time and practice to get right. But even your first attempt will impress your friends, and you’ll get better and better each time you cook it.
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Dashi (dried fish stock) or usukushi (Japanese light-colored soy sauce) or kombu dashi
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Combine the dashi or soy sauce, and sugar in a large bowl and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
- Add the eggs to the bowl and beat to combine well. Don’t beat them too much—the mixture shouldn’t be frothy or foamy, just combined with the yolk.
- Set a medium-mesh sieve over a measuring cup with a spout and pour in the egg mixture. Strain the mixture, stirring to get most of the liquid through, leaving just about a tablespoon of the thick whites in the sieve.
- Set the tamagoyaki pan or an 8-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Let it get hot for a few minutes.
- Pour a tablespoon or two of vegetable the oil into a small bowl. Dip a folded paper towel into the oil and briefly rub the surface and sides of the pan. Keep the paper towel nearby.
- Pour into the pan about 3 tablespoons of the egg mixture, and immediately swirl the egg mixture so it covers the bottom in a thin layer, pushing down any egg that sticks to the sides.
- Use the edge of a nonmetal spatula (or chopsticks) to pop any little bubbles that appear. Let the egg cook, without stirring, just until it sets, about 20 seconds.
- Take the pan off the heat, tilt the handle down, and use a nonmetal spatula to gently fold the egg forward in half onto itself. Set the pan back on the heat. Rub the empty space at the back of the pan with oil, then slide the cooked egg, using the spatula to help if need be, into the empty space.
- Rub the now-empty space in the front of the pan with oil. Pour about 3 tablespoons more of the egg mixture into the empty space, tilting the pan and slightly lifting the cooked egg so the liquidy egg runs underneath it. Cook until the raw egg has just set, 30 to 45 seconds.
- Take the pan off the heat, tilt the handle down, and use a spatula to gently fold the egg forward in half onto itself. Set the pan back on the heat again and repeat the process until you’ve used all of the egg mixture.
- If the omelet is not by this point golden brown in spots on both sides, cook over medium heat for a few minutes on each side.
- Transfer the omelet to a cutting board, let it cool slightly, and slice it crosswise into 3/4-inch-thick slices. Serve warm. Wrapped in plastic wrap, the omelet keeps in the fridge for up to two days.
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