Friday, December 02, 2005

Bento Watch #31

This is rice with a pickled plum, soy beans (edamame), some miso soup (of course) and a bit of Japanese omelet (tamagoyaki, I guess).

I tried this morning to better perfect my tamagoyaki cooking techniques by trying to do it in more than one 'pass'. The skillet I use is so big (and my desire to not send my cholesterol levels through the roof) that I've made it easily in the past with just one egg. The lightly colored tamagoyaki in the dish was made this way - poor it in thin and roll it up. Regularly though, there is more egg mix than can be made in one pass and it is necessary to pour, roll into thirds on the side of the pan, pour some more that connects with the original roll, continue (the darker colored ones were made this way). This makes it quite a bit more difficult though since it's difficult to judge how much to add for each pass so that the omelet comes out appearing as one long roll of even thickness.

Only practice will make this easier since my first attempt here resulted in some rather dramatic differences in thickness, and it was only two passes (the fact that it should have been three doesn't help). I'm also encouraged by the fact that many of the photos I've seen of hand made tamagoyaki don't exhibit a precise accuracy.

How hard can it be though, really? I often compare Japanese cooking with French cooking in that both require precise techniques over vague 'standards' (add 'some' egg to the pan, pour 'some' vinegar over the sushi rice, etc.), but at least when Japanese food products are poorly executed you come out with a poorly executed version of a Japanese food product. If you poorly execute a French product, you're a bit more likely to just come out with crap. I bring this up because I once saw a cooking show where the chef gave instructions on how to make a French omelet (I was unable to find an exact recipe, though this one is close). It basically consisted of scrambling the eggs on the edge of the pan and at just the right moment, letting them solidify into an even, solid shape. I've only tried it a few times, but I was only able to replicate this on my first try; the other attempts came out looking like botched experiments. The heat, oil, amount of egg, cooking time, mixing, etc. all have to be done precisely - the Japanese version is a lot more forgiving.

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