Whenever I go out for sushi, I always order one tamago nigiri, that omelet with the rice underneath, wrapped around the middle with nori like a Band-Aid. You know the one? For me, it's the perfect end to a sushi dinner — a little sweet, very comforting.
I used to fantasize about ordering an entire meal of them. Because, for some reason — maybe because I became an adult one day — I restrict myself to just one. If I'm lucky, maybe there's two in an order, then I'll have two. Anyway, there's salmon to be had, ikura, and yellowtail. You're there for fish, why load up on eggs?
But these are just amorphous rules.
One day I came home from work, starving, to an empty fridge (a typical scene in my house). Save for a few eggs, rice which I always have stocked, and a couple packs of roasted seaweed snack, my pantry was a desert, and I needed dinner fast. So I set out to make this rice bowl that I do a lot: fried eggs, sesame oil, and soy sauce, stirred into hot, fluffy, just-steamed white rice and hand-crushed nori, maybe some capers if I'm feeling it.
Convenience aside, I think the reason I eat this so much is because my mom used to make it for us all the time. It's really simple but nourishing: protein and carbohydrate wrapped up in a neat, salty bow.
As I set out to make this eggy rice, I thought, "What if I added a little sugar?" My brother did that to his eggs growing up. So I added a little sugar, scrambled the slightly sweetened eggs, took a bite, and was so happy to have accidentally created the flavor profile of those tamago nigiri I'm obsessed with. It was one of those ah-ha! moments that made me feel silly for not having done this my whole life.
Of course, I went back and tweaked the recipe, found that sweet spot between soft, sweet tamago and my mom's savory eggy rice (which doesn't have sugar, and has fried eggs), and present to you now with a Franken-version. My tamagoyaki–inspired scrambled eggs are, as ever, the clumsy home cook's take on those French soft-scrambled eggs where you have to start from a cold pan with cubes of butter and stir, low and slow, risotto-style (which takes forever).
When I'm making these eggs, I want that soft-set texture — and I want it yesterday. So I live on the edge and, starting from a cold pan, crank the heat up to medium-low (dangerous!), add the sesame oil, then the egg mixture, and cook, stirring very unoccasionally (I like large curds), but only for a couple minutes (they'll carryover cook off the heat). Or you could borrow a trick from Kristen Miglore's Genius scrambled eggs.
There's really no fancy chef's trick to my creamy, dreamy eggs other than a ravenous hunger for them — and, frankly, undercooking them.
Soft-Scrambled "Tamago" Eggs
- 3 large eggs, organic if you can
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 pinch kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- 1 portion white rice, for serving, optional
- 1/2 packet roasted seaweed snack, crushed with your hands or snipped into strips, for serving, optional
Click here to read the full recipe.