I have a bad habit of hanging around the counter at sushi restaurants, creepily watching the chef work his magic. I don’t usually say anything, but every so often I remember that it’s less creepy to hang around watching people do their jobs if you make a bit of polite conversation. In pursuance of which, “What the heck is that square yellow stuff?” I ask one day. The sushi chef gives me a funny look. “Egg.”
Egg. Of course. I should have guessed.
Square yellow eggy stuff, it turns out, is called tamagoyaki (fried egg) by those in the know. In the US, it is usually seen cold as part of nigiri sushi, on top of a hunk of rice and secured with a strip of nori, but my Dex stat isn’t high enough to make nigiri, so I’m not going to talk about that. In Japan it is often served hot, as a sort of simple omelet. It’s great cold as a bento box staple: I’ll make a huge one on Monday when I’m working at the sailing camp in the summer and eat it all week. Despite its somewhat daunting appearance, it is actually relatively simple to make, and exceptionally tasty.
- 4 Eggs
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 1 tbsp sugar
- cooking spray
Scramble everything (well, okay, not the cooking spray) together with a fork until the colour is uniform. Liberally coat your frying pan in cooking spray. Traditionally a square pan is used for this, but most of us don’t have square pans, so don’t worry about it.
Send everyone else out of the kitchen. This is impossible to do in the presence of others, particularly overly-curious housewives. Pour a very thin layer of egg into the pan. As soon as it begins to set, roll it up from one side with a spatula or a pair of chopsticks. Pour in a second layer. Roll the first layer back across the new one. Continue this process until you’ve used up all your eggs.
Turn the blob out onto a sushi mat. The first few times it will be a blob, but with practice you’ll be able to roll out flawless tamagoyaki in minutes. Squish it until it’s vaguely rectangular, slice it up, and serve. If you aren’t going to eat it right away, leave it to cool in the sushi mat before refrigerating it.
I don’t know what the traditional condiments for this are, or if there are any, but I like it with gari and ponzu sauce.