When I was very young I was treated to sushi for the first time in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles. I remember it fondly because I was amazed at the sushi bar's method of serving, small, multicolored plates of sushi on a conveyor belt continuously rolled by my toddler level eyes.
Honestly a bit afraid of what my parents were now urging me to try, I grabbed the safest looking plate. It didn't look like raw fish, more like a piece of tofu or egg on a "fun size" morsel of rice.
Well, it was, and let me tell you, tamagoyaki (tah-mah-go-yah-kee, or just tamago) still has a warm place in my heart.
Tamagoyaki is basically an omelette, it can be eaten by itself or placed on rice as nigiri sushi (nigiri - knee-gee-ree).
Step 1: Collect Your Tools!
Good nonstick tamago or crepe pan (I'm using a great square pan bought from a local store called Marukai - which is luckily not too bad a drive away from me).
You'll also need either chopsticks or a whisk to scramble the eggs, I prefer chopsticks because a whisk might make the eggs too bubbly.
A bowl to mix the ingredients
I also use a wide spatula and sometimes a small silicone spatula to help roll the omelette.
A sharp knife.
Step 2: Collect Your Ingredients!
The recipe I'm using is quite simple:
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon mirin (rice wine for cooking - pick up at any asian market)
1/2 teaspoon shoyu (Soy sauce - try and find a true shoyu or Japanese soy sauce, as Chinese soy sauces will be much saltier)
salt (your preference, I usually add just a dash)
There are many recipes on the internet, many incorporating dashi (Japanese fish stock), but I stayed away from the fish stock in order to keep it cleaner tasting as well as vegetarian. Use the dashi to be more traditional if you wish.
Fun fact: A sushi bar that serves a good tamagoyaki can be an indicator of how devoted they are to sushi - tamagoyaki is not a dish that makes a lot of money, and if they do it well, then they care a lot about their sushi)
Step 3: Cooking
Before we start cooking, remember that sushi is a lot about balance. You want a good balance of the sweet and savory, egg to rice ratio. Modify the recipe as you see fit.
Crack your eggs into your bowl and add your mirin, soy sauce, and sugar while blending. You don't exactly want bubbly eggs, only frothy, to keep the omelette light and airy but still solid enough to stand on its own.
Step 4: Cooking Technique 1
Turn on medium heat and oil your pan, make sure you get the sides of the pan oiled because this is where you'll be leaning the egg and sliding your spatula around. I usually use a piece of paper towel to spread the cooking oil around.
Pour your mixture on evenly, you don't want it cooking immediately as it hits the pan, so you're not looking for a loud (if satisfying) fry sound as it hits, but a softer sizzle. If you're bubbling up, it's probably too hot, but don't worry, just turn down your heat, the first part of the egg that hits the pan will be in the middle of the roll, so it won't be too obvious.
Step 5: Cooking Technique 2
Tilt your pan around to spread the mixture, you want to spread the egg evenly around the pan, without it being too thin. This shouldn't take more than a few seconds. Wait for it to cook a little, it should be opaque and start bubbling up from underneath as the bottom cooks. Now comes the fun part.
Step 6: Cooking Technique 3
I use a wide flat spatula for this: You'll be coming in and trying to fold over the omelette, about an inch or more depending on how you want your tamago to look or how you'll be presenting it. Flip it in and give the pan a tap on the handle to loosen up the egg (you may have seen many anime characters doing this as they cook). Give the pan a little shimmy to help move the omelette away from the back edge of the pan.
Step 7: Done? Already?
Keep folding your egg up, don't worry too much about the omelette being runny or raw on the inside, it should cook up from any residual heat. If not, simply leave it on medium heat for a little while longer, just be careful not to burn the omelette.
And you're done!
That was predictably fast and easy wasn't it! A rectangular tamago pan helps a lot near the end of the roll, as it keeps the edge clean and straight. Now how to serve it?
Step 8: Serving
Here's a picture of a few ways to serve tamagoyaki, I didn't have any meal associated with creating this instructable, so I just sliced it up. I browned my tamago a little more than I would have liked, but this is purely aesthetic, I like the outside of my tamago to be yellow and bright, the interior browning does look pretty though.
Thanks for reading!