Hangtown Fry - Updating a Classic, pt 2

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In my previous post, I shared my take on updating the classic Hangtown Fry by spicing up the bacon a bit with gochujang paste, frying the oysters in crushed buttery crackers and patiently stirring eggs splashed with cream until velvety curds formed. Including the words "part one" in a piece implies that there will be a part two ... And here it is.

Wanting to add one more unique element to my HF, I regarded a recent Japanese breakfast influence that is showing up more often in my kitchen: tamagoyaki. Tamagoyaki is basically a pan-fried, rolled egg omelette that employs traditional Japanese ingredients (egg, soy sauce and mirin) as well as the cutest little square pan you've ever seen. Full disclosure, I'm a complete sucker for any and all kitchen appliances, but particularly dishware featured in Japanese cooking (did you happen to read my journal entry on Takoyaki? It requires a special pan, too ...). I adore eggs but to put it bluntly, I wanted to master Tamagoyaki just so I could get the pan.

Seriously - so cute hanging out next to my paella pan. Adorbs!

Quite simply, eggs are mixed with a dash of soy sauce, mirin and salt, then poured in the hot oiled pan so a thin layer just coats the bottom of the pan. You tilt the pan this way and that so the egg cooks evenly and covers the entire surface area, just like you would an omelette in a regular pan. But tamagoyaki involves rolling the thin egg layer over and over on itself so it creates multiple layers.

Let's forgo a formal recipe box and just talk it out together.

  1. In a spouted glass measuring cup or spouted bowl, whisk together 4 eggs, 1/4 tsp of salt, 1/4 tsp soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of Mirin (or 1/4 tsp sugar if you don't have Mirin).
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in your tamakoyaki pan over medium-high heat. Pour a thin layer of the egg mixture into the pan, tilting the pan so it covers the entire surface area. After the thin layer has set a little bit, you can begin to roll it up - you want to make sure the egg is set enough for rolling, but that the surface is still "wet" in spots so it will adhere to itself. If you feel confident enough, use chopsticks. If not, it's okay, you can use whatever utensil you feel comfortable with (a small spatula works good) to gently roll up the egg onto itself three to four times. Now you have a small log at the end of the pan.
  3. Pour another thin layer of egg mixture into the pan, gently lifting the rolled log at the far end so the new egg mixture gets underneath the log and adheres to its bottom. When the egg is set but still "wet", gently roll the log onto the new layer of egg, turning it 3-4 times so you end up at the opposite end of the pan.
  4. Repeat until you use up all the egg mixture. If it looks like the omelette is getting too dark on the outside, adjust your temperature. Also, this is a very small, lightweight pan - the quickest way to lower the heat (especially if you're using an electric range like I'm stuck doing) is to simply lift the pan off the burner (wow!).
  5. Gently remove the omelette from the pan and let it cool for a minute or so. Here, you can either let the egg omelette sit and cool further, or you can roll it in a sushi roll to tighten up the roll and create the signature "square" shape of a traditional tamagoyaki omelette. Either way, when the omelette is cooled, slice it into 3/4" slices and serve.

You can quite easily make this omelette in a traditional round pan just as easily. Not everyone is addicted to pans the way I am ... but you can find the tamagoyaki pan I used on Amazon quite easily.

You also don't have to eat this omelette with your Hangtown Fry or for breakfast at all, really. It's quite commonly eaten as I snack in Japan and even alongside sushi. Whether you spring for the pan or not, give this omelette a try. It's unique flavor provides a wonderful change of pace.