Sometimes recipes pop up in the most delightfully random ways. On Queer Eye: We’re In Japan! Antoni teaches one of the makeover subjects to make omuraisu because his wife has always dreamed of him making her favorite dish for her. It’s a simple way to show that you care for someone, but actions speak volumes, and it meant a lot to her. While watching this episode with my husband, he jokingly turned to me and said, “Why haven’t you made me omuraisu??”
That made me think: why haven’t I? Watching Antoni prepare it on screen brought back a flood of memories from my study abroad experience in the summer of 2014. I realized that omuraisu was something that I absolutely loved when I was in Japan, but had never thought about – much less tried to recreate – when I was back in the States. So I decided to buckle down and make it, both to bring back some memories and show that I didn’t need Antoni to show me how to be a good husband (although if he wanted to, I mean… my kitchen’s always open…).
What are you even saying?
Omuraisu isn’t as complicated of a word as it may sound to English-speaking ears. It’s simply a combination of “omelet” and “rice.” Japanese as a language often takes words from other cultures and wraps them into its own, with their own Japanese-inflected pronunciations. Japanese does, of course, have its own words for egg dishes and rice. However, omuraisu was started in restaurants that catered towards Westerners – thus, the dish adopted the loanword name.
The dish itself is just as simple as the name. Omuraisu is a bed of fried rice, over which a gorgeous, fluffy omelet is laid. It’s finished off with either ketchup or demi-glace sauce, and is one of the most comforting things you will ever eat. You can’t tell me that cutting into a fluffy, steaming omelet isn’t one of the most satisfying things you can do at a mealtime!
What do I need to keep in mind?
As with all cooking (but ESPECIALLY high heat cooking), mise en place is vital to your success. Making fried rice means amping up your heat to “high” and stirring everything constantly to prevent burning, so you need to have everything portioned out and ready to go. Make the sauce in advance, make sure your rice is out of the fridge if you prepared it beforehand, make sure all the veggies are prepped. When you’re in the thick of it, there’s no time to stop stirring because you forgot to slice your carrots! It’s done, cancel the carrots, forget the sauce, we’re having burnt onions for dinner!
As daunting as that sounds, this is a ridiculously easy dish to make, which makes it perfect for a weeknight meal. It doesn’t take too long, and it makes a lot of rice so you can have leftovers the next day!
Ok but ketchup? In rice?
Trust me, it’s delicious. Many recipes vary between using demi-glace (a brown sauce made with stock and several vegetables) and ketchup in the rice itself. I split the difference and made my own brown sauce with a ketchup base and added zing from hoisin and soy sauces. It’s simple, but the blend of salt and spices in these sauces brings a lot of flavor to the dish.
Japanese recipes are often simple because they like to let the beauty of the ingredients speak for themselves. You can choose to add different sauces or vegetables to pack a punch, but don’t be afraid if it feels like you aren’t doing much with this recipe – its beauty lies in its simplicity (I already probably shouldn’t have added garlic, but let’s be real: everything could use a little added garlic).
I hope you enjoyed today’s stop on the #GentGoesGlobal tour. Easter season is just around the corner – do you have a global traditional Easter food that you want me to try? Drop a comment and let me know! Until then, here’s to good drinking, great eating, and even better living.
- 2 cups rice (cooked)
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 bunch green onions (whites and greens separated)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 cups mixed veggies (peas, carrots, soy beans, etc.)
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/8 cup hoisin sauce
- 1/8 cup soy sauce
- 8 eggs
- olive oil
- 1 pinch each salt and sugar
- Cook the rice (it's best to make it a day ahead and let it sit in the fridge, but having it fresh won't be the end of the world). Prepare the sauce by stirring together the ketchup, hoisin sauce, and soy sauce in a small bowl. Set aside.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Cook the white parts of the onions until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the minced garlic and stir, cooking until aromatic.
- Turn the heat to high and add the mixed vegetables, stirring constantly to prevent burning. After the veggies are tender, add the rice and the sauce, stirring constantly to prevent burning and making sure everything gets mixed well. After the rice is all warmed through (3-4 minutes), remove from the heat and turn off the burner.
- In a small bowl, add two eggs (for one omelet). Beat well with a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar. Pour a tablespoon of olive oil into a small skillet and set over medium heat. Add the eggs, swirling to cook gently. When the bottom has set but the top is still slightly runny, gently fold the omelet over itself in the pan so the residual heat gradually cooks the insides. Repeat for the omelets for the other servings.
- Plate the rice in a mound, and top gently with the omelet. Garnish with extra ketchup and the green onion tops, and enjoy!
- This recipe usually employs a demi-glace, or just ketchup. I went halvsies and made my own brown sauce with a base of ketchup and some added kick from the hoisin. Feel free to make your own demi-glace to be more traditional, or just use ketchup (adding 1/4 cup to make up for the lost moisture).