Monday, August 29, 2016

How to Make Omurice (Japanese Fried Rice Omelette)

There's a video on YouTube that I've watched several times over the past couple of years. In it, a chef in Kyoto makes a plate ofomurice with a deftness and perfection of technique that may be unrivaled. He starts by frying rice in a carbon steel skillet, tossing it every which way until each grain is coated in a sheen of demi-glace and oil. Then he packs it into an oval mold and turns it out in a tight mound on a plate.

He then proceeds to make what is perhaps the greatest French omelette ever executed, cooking it in that same perfectly seasoned carbon steel skillet, stirring the egg with chopsticks, rolling it up, gently tossing it, rotating it, and finally tipping it out of the pan onto that mound of rice. He then grabs a knife and slices through the top of the omelette from end to end, unfurling it in a custardy cascade of soft-cooked egg curds. It's an act of such prowess, such beauty, such tantalizing food-porniness that it's easy to conclude there's no hope of ever making such a dish at home.

And that's where I want to step in. Because you absolutely can and should make this at home. I realized this while watching a cook make omurice on a trip to Japan back in July (my travel and lodging were paid for by the Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau). The cook was working with a flat griddle, not a carbon steel skillet. He fried the rice on that griddle, and, after mounding it on a plate, made the omelette on the griddle, too. Except that it wasn't a true rolled omelette. Instead, he poured the beaten eggs into a round on the griddle...and that was it. As soon as the eggs were set on the bottom and just slightly runny on top, he lifted the round with a couple of spatulas and set it down over the rice.

As fun as it is to master a French omelette, in this particular case, it's an unnecessary flourish that—while it makes for great showmanship—does little to improve the final dish, since you end up unrolling the omelette anyway. By not bothering to roll the omelette in the first place, you sidestep the entire technical challenge.

For those unfamiliar with omurice, it's a Japanese invention that combines an omelette with fried rice. You'll often hear it referred to as omuraisu (a contraction of the words "omuretsu" and "raisu," the Japanese pronunciations of "omelette" and "rice"), oromumeshi, which fully translates "rice" into Japanese. Some versions have the rice rolled up in the omelette; you can watch the very same Kyoto chef do that here.

by Daniel Gritzer, Serious Eats |  Read more: 
Image: YouTube