I love eggs. And I love Japanese dishes. By logical reasoning then, I must love Japanese egg dishes. In fact, I love them so much that in the process of cooking one Japanese egg dish, I thought of two other Japanese egg dishes, and ended up stuffed all three concepts into one dish. #win
The novelty from an anime
It all started with the Bingka Ubi Special I made a couple weeks back. In doing my research for the article, I stumbled upon another dish from the very same anime that inspired the bingka ubi dish, and promptly saved it to my Trello board of weird dishes. The dish in question is the Transforming Furikake Gohan from episode 2 of Shokugeki no Soma (or chapter 2 if you read the manga).
In the non-anime world, furikake gohan translates to ‘seasoned rice’, as furikake refers to a common Japanese seasoning of seaweed, sesame seeds, and bonito flakes that’s often sprinkled on rice and vegetable dishes, and gohan means rice. But as far as I know, ‘furikake gohan’ isn’t an actual Japanese dish. I mean, it sure sounds and taste Japanese, but is really only considered a Japanese dish as much as ‘ketchup corn’ can be considered a classic American dish.
The Transforming Furikake Gohan from the anime though, is something quite different. It’s a dish of scambled eggs on rice, which sounds simple enough. But true to the anime, the protaganist, Yukihira Soma, whipped out a killer move in the form of a jelly made out of chicken broth, which when served on top of the steaming hot rice and eggs, gradually melts and coats the dish with a deep, umami savouriness.
So I set out to recreate the dish verbatim. But just as I was about to begin, I was hit by the idea of another Japanese egg dish – tamagoyaki.
The taste of tamagoyaki
Tamagoyaki is such an interesting piece of Japanese culinary art. It’s a Japanese omelette, made by folding up layers of egg curds as it cooks, and then compressed into a smooth rectangular block of eggy purity. The thing about tamagoyakis that really hooks me though, is the flavour. Instead of having just eggs and salt as a base, like most French or American omelettes do, a sweet dashi broth is often added to the egg mixture, giving it a delightfully sweet tinge at the end. And this balance of sweet and savoury is what I believe makes tamagoyakis so addictive!
So how did this thought of tamagoyaki affect the initial dish I set out to make? Well, instead of using a chicken broth like Soma-kun did in the anime, I opted for a jelly made of pure dashi broth to go with the scrambled eggs, in hopes of creating a flavour profile reminiscent of tamagoyakis! So instead of a Transforming Furikake Gohan, I set out to make a Transforming Tamago Gohan!
But thanks to my wandering, easily-distracted mind, halfway through making the dish, yet another Japanese egg dish hit my brainwaves — omurice.
The appearance of omurice
If you haven’t heard of omurice, you gotta watch this video. It’s a video of Chef Yukimura Motokichi in his Tokyo restaurant, Kichi Kichi, making his signature dish – Fluffy Open Omelette Rice.
Omurice — a Janglish amalgamation of omelette-rice — usually refers to an omelette that’s filled with rice. But Chef Yukimura’s omurice is a truly glammed up version of the dish. He first shapes the rice like a Scouts side cap, and places a super jiggly omelette on top. Then, with a deft flick of his knife, he slits the omelette open down the middle, and the barely-cooked curds would satisfyingly flap and dribble down both sides of the rice.
While it seems simple enough, it’s bloody difficult to get the technique right for this dish. Chef Yukimura probably practiced for years before his first successful omurice. So as someone with barely a fraction of the omurice tekkers of Chef Yukimura, I thought of a shortcut just as I was making the Transforming Tamago Gohan above. Instead of having the typically fully-cooked scrambled eggs that’s so common in Asian cooking, I opted for creamy British-style scrambled eggs. Then (and this part is a little weird) I sculpted the scrambled eggs onto the mound of rice, just like how you would plaster paper mache over a balloon to make a dome. This resulted in a convincingly creamy egg-on-rice dish that looks quite a bit like an omurice that’s been cut open. Hur-hur.
Putting it all together
So, we ended up with a dish with three distinct characteristics — the taste of tamagoyaki, the appearance of omurice, and the novelty of Yukihira Soma’s Transforming Furikake Gohan. My favourite aspect of this dish by far, is how much it looks like an omurice. True Japanophiles though, will probably flay me for butchering their sacred yoshoku dish, so it’s probably not wise to call this an omurice. Instead, let’s give it an endearing name like… scrambo-rice. 😂
Side note: As you can probably tell from the photos below, I tried to put more dashi jelly cubes on top of the rice, but they all just started melting and sliding down the sides of the egg-rice-dome. Ah well, I guess it ended up looking a little more like Kichi Kichi’s omurice eh, with demi-glace poured all around. Oh, and just in case you were wondering what the weird dots and swiggles are, I garnished it with sesame seeds, scallions, and swiggly pieces of salted kombu (thanks Flory! 😊).
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2 pieces kombu
1 fistful (~20g) bonito flakes
½ tablespoon sugar
½ tablespoon mirin
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
10g gelatine powder
200g sushi rice (short grain)
~200g water, or use special Asian finger method
1 piece kombu
50ml rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
50ml heavy cream, can be substituted with milk
¼ teaspoon salt, possibly more to taste
Salted kombu, optional
1 stalk spring onion, sliced thin
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
Dashi jelly: Place the water and kombu in a small pot or saucepan, and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for 15 minutes. As the kombu broth is simmering, put 2-3 tablespoons of cold water into a small bowl, and sprinkle gelatine powder over it, leaving it to bloom/hydrate for at least 5 minutes. When the broth has finished simmering, add in the bonito flakes, sugar, and mirin. Let simmer for another 5 minutes, then strain out the solids. Add the bloomed gelatine into the dashi broth, bring it to a boil then remove from the heat. Let the broth cool down for 10-15 minutes, then pour it into a deep tray or container. Keep in the refrigerator overnight to allow jelly to set.
Rice: Rinse the sushi rice 2-3 times to remove the excess starch, then add the water and piece of kombu to the rice. Cook this in a rice cooker as per the rice cooker’s instructions (or cook it in a pot for 15 minutes over medium heat).
Rice seasoning: In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt. Heat it up and stir until the sugar and salt dissolves, then take it off the heat and let it cool down. (Alternatively, you can heat and dissolve the sugar and salt in a microwave.) Pour this seasoning over the cooked rice, and stir gently to incorporate it into the rice, careful not to break up the individual rice grains.
Scrambled eggs: Combine the eggs, cream, and salt in a saucepan, and place over low heat. Keep stirring the pot with a spatula or whisk. At first it’ll seem like nothing is happening, but after 1-2 minutes, the egg will start to set on the bottom. Keep stirring and scraping up the curds as it forms on the bottom of the pan until the scrambled eggs has lost most of its liquid, but is still thick, shiny and malleable. This should take 5-7 minutes. Taste the eggs at the end and season it to taste if need.
Serve: Place the rice into a bowl, and flip it over onto a plate so it’s shaped like a dome. Spoon the scrambled eggs over the rice, and using the back of the spoon (or a spatula), gently push and ease the egg around so that it covers the rice. Then, cut up the dashi jelly into little cubes and place all around the egg-rice-dome. Garnish with some salted kombu, sesame seeds, and scallion slices.