Tamagoyaki (Japanese omelette) (卵焼き)

Tamagoyaki is a general term for Japanese egg dishes in which eggs are beaten and cooked in a pan. Although in a broader definition, eggs may be cooked without being beaten, this article describes egg dishes in which the eggs are beaten. Generally, chicken eggs are used; however, in some cases quail, duck, or ostrich eggs are also used.

How to cook

Beat eggs lightly (break the yolks with chopsticks or a fork to ensure that whites and yolks mix), and pour a small portion of the mixture into a greased skillet or other type of pan to cook. Oil can be omitted if a non-stick pan is used. Typically tamagoyaki is prepared by pouring the beaten eggs into a rectangular frying pan, rolling it from one side of the pan to the other side when the eggs are just semi-cooked, and pouring in another portion of the mixture and repeating the process.

While salt and pepper are the common seasonings, the egg mixture is sweetened when it is used in sushi or kaiseki ryori (traditional Japanese dinner). In the Kanto Region, sweetened tamagoyaki is popular as an everyday side dish. In the Kinki Region, tamagoyaki is typically prepared with dashi (Japanese soup stock made from kelp and/or bonito shavings) and the dish prepared this way is called dashimaki. Mentsuyu (soup for Japanese soba or udon noodles made from dashi, soy sauce, mirin, etc.) or fish sauce can also be used to give different flavors. It is easy to create variations by adding spinach, carrot and other colorful vegetables to the egg mixture; also, it can be used to roll up with a filling such as in a dish called umaki, in which shredded pieces of broiled eel are rolled in the center of layers of egg.

Usually, iritamago, or Japanese scrambled eggs, are not considered tamagoyaki. Differences between non-rolled type tamagoyaki and omelettes include: whether the egg is browned or not; butter is sometimes used to cook omelettes, but not with tamagoyaki; and while milk, cream, chopped bacon, or chopped sausage are sometimes added to omelettes, they are not added to tamagoyaki.

In the 1960s, tamagoyaki used to be one of the favorite foods of children and it was listed as one of three things children typically love in a popular phrase of that time: 'Giants (a Japanese baseball team), Taiho (a sumo wrestler), and tamagoyaki.'
Tamagoyaki remains a popular food among children even today, and a favorite choice of foods used in school lunch boxes.