A unique Japanese omelette without any filling is known as tamagoyaki. Slightly sweet in flavor, this egg dish is relatively easy to prepare, although it does use a rather unique cooking method. It is often served for breakfast or with sushi, and is a common component of bento boxes.
Tamagoyaki roughly translates to “grilled egg” in English; it is also routinely called dashimaki or tomago, the latter translating to “egg.” Unlike other types of omelette, this does not have any filling; rather, the egg is simply folded into itself until fully cooked. For this dish, two to four eggs are mixed with a little bit of sugar, soy sauce, and rice wine, called mirin. The dish may be very sweet or more savory, depending on the amount of sugar and rice wine added.
In Japan, a small, square non-stick skillet is used to prepare this dish. Once the eggs and other ingredients are mixed together, a small amount of oil is brushed on the pan, and a little bit of the egg mixture is poured in. Using chopsticks, the egg is slowly rolled onto itself as tightly as possible. Once the egg is almost completely rolled, more of the egg mixture is poured in; this process repeats until all of the mixture is used and the egg is cooked through and rolled into a log.
The process for making tamagoyaki is taught to Japanese children from a very young age. While the process may seem slightly complicated, it usually only takes three to five minutes to prepare once the pan is heated. The pan used for the dish is typically given as a small wedding present.
Once cooked, the tamagoyaki is removed from the pan, sliced into several pieces and then served or packed away for later. This egg dish, along with steamed or baked fish and white rice, is a popular breakfast in Japanese cuisine. When served only with rice, toppings such as flaked, dried fish and seaweed are often added to the dish.
Tamagoyaki is also a popular side dish in sushi restaurants. The sliced egg is often eaten alongside a variety of sushi or used as a topping for raw and cooked fish dishes. In fish markets in Japan where vendors serve quick breakfasts using that morning’s freshly-caught fish, tamagoyaki is a common staple.
As this dish tends to keep well for a few hours and can be eaten either warm or at room temperature, it is often a part of Japanese bento boxes. These compartmentalized lunch carriers are used by business men and women, as well as school children, to bring lunches from home. Tamagoyaki is a popular protein for lunch, and is often served with white rice and fermented beans, known as natto.