Omurice (Japanese Rice Omelet)
Omurice, a beloved staple of Japanese home cooking, is a linguistic and literal mash-up of omelet and rice. A plain omelet cloaks ketchup-flavored fried rice, often called “chicken rice” even when it's made with ham or bacon, or no meat at all. It belongs to the category of so-called Western food know as yoshoku. This one takes cues from omurice served at countless kissaten, Japanese diners, but it most closely resembles a recipe from the London architect Go Sugimoto, who grew up between Washington, D.C., and Tokyo. “It was the first thing I learned to cook, and now I make it for my son,” he said, confessing that his is fancier than his mom’s, with butter instead of oil or margarine, vegetables in the rice, and a splash of dashi to flavor the omelet.
- Serves: 2 persons
- 2tablespoons butter
- ½medium onion, cut in 1/2-inch dice (about 3/4 cup)
- 1medium carrot, peeled, cut in 1/4-inch dice (about 3/4 cup)
- 2to 3 slices deli ham, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2cups cooked medium-grain rice, preferably day-old or cooked a little dry
- 2tablespoons ketchup, plus more for serving
- 1teaspoon soy sauce
- ¼cup frozen peas
- 1tablespoon chicken stock or dashi (optional)
- Salt and pepper
- Canola or safflower oil, or other neutral oil
- 1teaspoon canola or safflower oil, or other neutral oil
- 1teaspoon dashi or water
- Salt and pepper
Step 1Make the rice: Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Add 1 tablespoon butter, and then onion and carrot. Cook, stirring, until onion is translucent and a little browned at the edges, about 3 minutes. Add ham and cook, stirring, until it begins to brown, about 30 seconds.
Step 2Add remaining 1 tablespoon butter, and then rice, breaking it up with a wooden spoon or long chopsticks. Adjust heat to medium and cook until the grains are glossy, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in ketchup and soy sauce, and cook, stirring, another 30 seconds or so to caramelize. Stir in peas to heat through, and deglaze the pan with dashi or chicken stock. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Step 3To make a perfect mound of rice on each plate, grease a small bowl with canola or safflower oil and pack 1 cup of the rice. Invert this over a plate and remove the bowl. Repeat with the other half of the rice on a second plate.
Step 4Make the omelet: In a small (6- or 7-inch) nonstick skillet (or a well-seasoned carbon steel omelet pan), heat 1/2 teaspoon oil, or just enough to coat the pan, over medium-high. Beat 2 eggs with 1/2 teaspoon dashi or water, until yolks and whites are completely blended. Season with salt and pepper.
Step 5Pour the egg mixture into the heated pan. Shake and swirl the pan over the heat, stirring constantly with chopsticks or a fork as the eggs cook. When lots of small curds have formed and the eggs are custardy, about 30 seconds, let cook undisturbed until nearly set, about 30 seconds. Run a butter knife or small spatula around the edge of the omelet, and tap the pan firmly against the stove to release the omelet. Turn the omelet out onto the rice, custardy side down. Use a clean dish towel or paper towel to push the edges under the rice.
Step 6Repeat with the other 2 eggs for the second omelet. Dress the omelets with a zigzag of ketchup (or a cute design if you’ve got a steady hand), and serve.