Thursday, April 9, 2009

My first attempt at a Japanese home cooking classic

Today marked my first attempt at a typical Japanese homestyle recipe, Omurice. This isn't something you find on the menu at the sushi places and the Benihana style Japanese stir fry places. This is what moms make for their families. It is easy to make, inexpensive, tasty, and can really be varied many ways to suit what is already in your fridge. It is basically a wafer thin omelette wrapped around a filling of rice mixed with stir fried vegetables, meat, and a simple sauce. My wok and skillet are both good quality nonstick, so next time I will use a bit less oil than most recipes call for. Today I basically followed the recipe and cooking technique demonstrated in this youtube video, which is narrated in English. The photos are mine.

Japanese Omurice (my adaptation of what was shown in the video)

2 skinless boneless chicken breast halves, diced (or any meat you prefer, shrimp is common as well)
salt, to taste
white pepper, to taste
cooking oil, to taste
1/4 of an onion, diced
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp sake (or white wine)
1/2 can diced tomatoes, undrained (my can was the 15 ounce size)
1 Tbsp ketchup, plus extra for garnishing
1 bay leaf
1/2 chicken bouillon cube, crushed (or you could use half a seasoning pack from ramen)
1/2 cup frozen peas, blanched briefly in boiling water and drained
1 1/2-2 cups freshly cooked short grain rice
4 eggs
2 milk or cream (I used semi-skimmed milk)

Lightly season the diced chicken meat with a bit of salt and pepper and set aside.

Heat a wok, adding a small amount of oil, then stir fry the garlic and onions until translucent. Add the chicken to the wok and stir fry until it has begun to change color all over. Add a splash of sake, let it cook down for a minute, then add the tomatoes, ketchup, bouillon, bay leaf, and peas. Let this mixture bubble up a few minutes, stirring the entire time, then add in the rice and toss to coat well. Test for seasoning, then remove the bay leaf and set the rice mixture aside.

Take a slightly damp paper towel and wipe out the wok. Heat it over low heat, adding a tiny amount of oil. In a small bowl, whisk together 2 of the eggs, 1 Tbsp of the milk, and then season lightly with salt and pepper.

Add the egg to the pan and move it around the pan a bit, using chopsticks or a fork to break up the bottom a bit so it doesn't burn; then swirling the pan to coat the entire bottom and a bit of the sides with a very thin layer of egg (like a crepe). This all should take only a few seconds and it will still look wet.

Take half of the rice mixture and place it on top of the almost cooked egg, then fold over the top and bottom edges, then flip it out onto a serving plate, upside down, so you only see the egg on top and the filling is covered. (It is then typical to squirt a ribbon of ketchup garnish over the top, I did try this but other than for looks I didn't think it was necessary.) Repeat with the remaining eggs, milk, and rice filling for a second serving.

It was really, really good and really quite easy. I will be making a lot more Omurice in the future.

This is what the inside looks like once you dig in:

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