Tamagoyaki: For Breakfast Or Dessert?

Posted: Jul 21 2015

Did you know that there are sushi breakfast dishes? It's not what you think -- there usually aren't any fish cuts involved. Instead, Japanese cuisine features Tamagoyaki as a breakfast dish: a unique and delicious rolled omelette. 

Tamagoyaki literally translates into "grilled egg" and in many ways, it's similar to what Westerners consider as a grilled egg. It's still beaten and cooked in a frying pan, but unlike traditional scrambled eggs, Tamagoyaki is crafted in thin layers rolled together while mixed with rice vinegar and sometimes soy sauce or wasabi. A Japanese favorite for modifying the egg mixture involves shrimp puree, grated mountain yam, and even a dash of sake.

Sometimes served over rice nigiri-style and sometimes served simply on its own, Tamagoyaki is a light and delicious alternative to heavier Western breakfast dishes. The mix can be modified as well. Just like any good sushi roll, you're invited to be creative with crafting the Tamagoyaki filling. There's no right or wrong way to do this; some tasty ideas include ham, cheese, spinach, and bell peppers. You can give it a more Japanese flavor or you can combine traditional Western breakfast meats and vegetables with it -- from sushi ideas such as colorful roe or sushi cuts to other cultural favorites such as chorizo, it’s all up to you and how you want to experiment with it. Fusion food is the new thing, so whatever pops up in your mind, go for it!

Tamagoyaki is a breakfast favorite but it’s not exclusively limited to that. Like all sushi, there’s some flexibility in what you can do with it. It’s the perfect item for a bento box, and can be paired up with a number of sushi rolls depending on what you fill it with. For example, if you’re having a heavier savory roll with spicy tuna, vegetables, and avocado, Tamagoyaki can be served without any filling for a lighter complement. Similarly, if you’re serving a lot sashimi, you can put the same cut of fish in the Tamagoyaki or stuff the Tamagoyaki with a range of fillings to counter sashimis lightness.

While usually a breakfast dish, it is also often served in Japan as a final palette cleanser -- in essence, a dessert. The Japanese hold Tamagoyaki craftsmanship in very high esteem in their culinary circles, and it's often considered a litmus test for the quality of a restaurant. Even in Western sushi restaurants, this is a good gauge as lower quality restaurants often use pre-made Tamagoyaki (and you can tell).

For personal enjoyment, though, Tamagoyaki is a fun and flexible way to enjoy a different kind of Japanese cuisine. Whether it’s part of an Eastern-themed breakfast or the final nightcap to your sushi dinner, Tamagoyaki encompasses the very best of sushi: light, delicious, and capable of being just about anything that you want it to be.

  1. Tamagoyaki 玉子焼き (1 lb)
  2. Miso Fish (Steelhead Trout) 味噌漬け ニジマス (1.5 lbs)
  3. Shrimp Tempura 海老天ぷら


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