In Lucky Peach’s All About Eggs, there’s a photo of “Michael Anthony’s Tamagoyaki.” It looks so special: a rectangular, mid-century modern-ish spiral-layered omelet. I instantly wanted to make it.When I actually read the recipe, I definitely did …
When I actually read the recipe, I definitely did not want to make it. It required a special square pan as well as seemingly lots of practice and technique. I moved on. I don't speak a lick of Japanese, but the title of the next recipe sounded like a play on the previous one. I read the description and was one-hundred-percent on board to give it a try:
"My mother's tamagoyaki defied all tamagoyaki conventions. She didn't bother making the spirally layers. She didn't even own a square pan. She used a round 10-inch cast iron skillet to make a communal tamagoyaki. Hers was basically scrambled eggs packed together like an ugly pillow. She called it shinzo-yaki ('pan-fried heart), and sure enough, it looked like an organ... Every time I watched my mother make this tamagoyaki, it looked like a disaster. But she didn't seem worried. She was a brave cook."
It's written by Sonoko Sakai. I had never heard of her before but now consider myself a fan. I love the way she writes about her mother. And from her description, I love her mother too! (It looked like a disaster. But she didn't seem worried!) She feels like an embodiment of what Tannaz and I were talking about re: women and mothers and their practical magic, in the kitchen and far beyond.
Indeed, this dish does come together quite magically. It also does look like disaster for most of the cooking time. But then eventually, it begins to shape into something. And then you flip it and see how the underneath has gotten all caramel-y and amazing.
I really, truly enjoyed making this. Sadly, Matt didn't love how it tasted. He thought it was too sweet. I thought as long as you paired it with some rice, vinegary greens, and vinegary hot sauce, it was quite delicious. In fact, since Matt didn't eat much of it, I ate the leftovers over the next couple of lunches (as I am a practicing practical woman), wrapping it alongside rice and avocado dressed in rice vinegar inside a sheet of nori, and I was very very happy.
I also wanted to quickly thank you all for your generous, kind comments on my last post. I feel semi-positive that if I didn't have a blog to voice that complaint, I may have slipped into a dark, dark place. So, thank the gods for the Internet, I guess? (I also feel the need to declare that I know Baked Ziti's real name and he/she is definitely not a young intern.)
Lastly, re: the first photo up there, Teddy's been learning all about the solar system, or as he would say it, "the saw-ler system." It's spurred so much conversation around here, like did you guys know the sun is eventually going to burn out and die? I didn't! Or else, if I did, I forgot. Speaking of dying, within two minutes of having picked him up at school, Teddy asked me: "When am I going to die?" I said that I didn't know but hopefully not for a really long time. He followed this up with: "And when I die, everyone dies?" Alkjdfljkafdaaflkakjfdljkafdladfljkafljkaflkjlkajfd.
On that note, I'm out of here. Enjoy this miraculous egg dish! xoxxo
Sonoko Sakai via All About Eggs
makes 1 omelet (2 to 4 servings)
1 1/2 cups dashi (I actually made dashi for this! But am pretty sure substituting with chicken broth wouldn't be a heinous crime against humanity.)
1/2 cup sake
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 tbsp. sesame oil
1 cup grated daikon radish (optional)
Whisk the eggs, dashi, sake, sugar, soy sauce, and salt in a large bowl.
Heat the sesame oil in a well-seasoned cast iron or nonstick pan over medium heat. Pour the soupy egg mixture into the heated pan all at once and stir until the eggs split from the broth and start to coagulate. Using a spatula, start to push the cooked eggs to one side of the pan, packing the tamagoyaki so it holds together and scraping the bottom of the pan to make sure it is not sticking. When most of the egg has bound together in a heap at one side of the pan, after about 10 minutes, reduce the heat to low. Work the omelet into the middle of the pan, packing it into a wiggly oval. It will be very tender so treat it gently. Ladle the broth pooling in the skillet over the entire tamagoyaki while moving it around in the pan so it cooks evenly. Repeat until the tamgoyaki absorbs all the broth, about 15 minutes. (This is Amelia: try not to stray too far from the stovetop here and don't rush!)
When there is only syrupy dashi left in the skillet, and the bottom of the omelet is caramel colored, carefully flip the tamagoyaki and caramelize the other side, about 5 minutes.
Carefully transfer the tamagoyaki to a cutting board. Let it cool slightly, then cut it into square or rectangular pieces and serve it with grated daikon radish, if desired.