If you just asked Google how to make “Japanese eggs”, my guess is you’re craving tamagoyaki, Japanese rolled omelettes. Mmm, MMM!
At first glance of the picture below, you might think it looks difficult to make. I promise you– with a little practice, this recipe is easy. Even if you don’t yet own a tamagoyaki pan, you can still make these eggs in a regular fry pan.
It’s the best Sunday morning breakfast. Or add a few pieces to your bento box to wow your colleagues at work. (Warning: you will be asked to share.)
What is Tamagoyaki?
You might know tamagoyaki from your favorite sushi restaurant. This recipe is made the same way in a rectangular or square-shaped tamagoyaki pan. Except this at-home version of tamagoyaki is made with fillings. And it’s savory, not sweet.
Tamagoyaki is a Japanese-style rolled omelette. Tamago means egg and yaki means fried or grilled. I used to confuse tamago-yaki with “fried egg” in Japanese, which is medamayaki.
Thin sheets of omelette are rolled up, layer by layer, inside a square or rectangular-shaped pan. Typically, they are are made slightly sweet with a fluffy, bouncy texture. It looks like a log or roll cake that’s sliced into cross-sections.
In Japan, you’ll typically find tamagoyaki as a staple at breakfast or as a side dish in a bento (lunch box). I often buy tamagoyaki at Tokyo Station as a healthy, low carb breakfast to eat on the shinkansen.
You can try out my favorite fillings or experiment with your own.
Is it your first time making Japanese eggs “Tamagoyaki”?
If it’s your first time rolling Japanese-style omelettes, it just takes some practice and patience.
If you’re still feeling some self-doubt, you may want to rewatch Karate Kid:
“First learn stand, then learn fly. Nature rule, Daniel-san, not mine.”- Mr. Miyagi
Even if your first attempt doesn’t turn out so pretty, it will still taste super oishi. Then, you can try again, and again, and again.
“Wax on, wax off. Wax on, wax off.” (Just use butter instead.)
I’m a visual learner. Watching a few “how to make tamagoyaki” videos on Youtube was the easiest way for me to learn.
Here’s a video I made on how to make basic tamagoyaki without fillings.
If you’re a beginner, this might be the best place to start.
Tamagoyaki Video Tutorials:
Here are some other videos that will help you learn the secret to making tamagoyaki:
Just One Cookbook (How to make sweet tamagoyaki) Watch Nami-san to learn how to roll tamagoyaki with cooking chopsticks.
Cooking with Dog (It’s what the title suggests) Watch this one if you want to learn how to cook tamagoyaki with your dog. Sorry, I couldn’t resist sharing this.
No Recipes (traditional tamagoyaki recipe) Marc shares some helpful tips on technique!
Eugenie Kitchen (how to make tamagoyaki without the pan) Eugenie’s instructions in this video tutorial are clear and easy to follow. She used a round pan.
Maybe you aren’t as obsessed with tamagoyaki as I am, but I hope this helps.
Can I make tamagoyaki without the pan?
You can start experimenting at home with a regular fry pan even if you don’t have a rectangular-shaped tamagoyaki pan.
If you try making these tamagoyaki in a regular fry pan, I would use a smaller pan so your layers of egg doesn’t spread out too wide.
I suspect if you used a large fry pan, the layers of egg may not become thick enough to hold the fillings. In that case, you may have to crack 1 or 2 more eggs to give it more bulk. The good thing about this solution is you’ll have leftovers for tomorrow.
Even if you don’t own a small fry pan (10 inch), I would still give it a try!
Which tamagoyaki pan should I buy?
In my case, I loved tamagoyaki to begin with so I went out to buy a pan straight away. Since I’m in living in Japan, it’s easy to find one at any home/kitchen store like Tokyu Hands or a department store.
I got mine in Kappabashi “kitchen town” in Tokyo. It’s a steel pan, not non-stick. The real deal. When I first bought it, I “seasoned” the pan. I learned how to do this correctly from Youtube.
I don’t wash my tamagoyaki pan with soap. From what I’ve seen at restaurants in Japan, this is standard practice.
If you want to avoid using non-stick pans, there is this iron pan available on Amazon (more expensive).
Other Japanese food bloggers such as Just One Cookbook and Chopstick Chronicles recommend copper pans. This is a reasonably priced one on Amazon.
Tips on how to make the Best Tamagoyaki with Fillings
1. If it’s your first time making tamagoyaki, I recommend that you initially go easy on adding dashi (not more than 2 tsp). The more liquid that you add to the egg mix, the harder it gets to roll up. Once your skill level improves, you can begin to experiment with adding a bit more for extra umami flavor.
2. Make sure your pan is well-greased (with butter or oil) before adding more egg mix for each new layer. If patches of the pan are not coated well enough with oil, the egg will stick, making it really challenging to roll up neatly. Saying this, be careful not to add too much butter or oil either– a thin coating is enough.
3. If it’s your very first time making tamagoyaki in your life, I suggest that you first make one or two plain tamagoyaki without fillings for practice. It took me a few times before I started to get the hang of rolling up the egg.
4. I typically see Japanese chefs roll tamagoyaki with long cooking chopsticks. Now that’s what I use. But in the beginning, I found it easier to use a wooden spatula.
5. As a beginner, I think it makes it much easier to cook your first few tamagoyaki on low heat. I find it makes it easier if I can take my time, especially when adding the filling. It also reduces the risk of burning one of the layers.
How to make Japanese Eggs – Tamagoyaki
Japanese Eggs - Tamagoyaki with Fillings
This is an easy recipe for tamagoyaki with fillings. You can try my favorite fillings or experiment with your own. Tamagoyaki look like they are hard to make. Once you get to hang of rolling the egg, it's easy!
- 3 eggs
- 3 pinches salt
- 2 tsp liquid dashi
- 1/4 cup sliced smoked salmon about 70 grams
- 1 cup chopped spinach
- 3-4 slices blue cheese
- 1-2 tsp butter (or cooking oil)
Chop the spinach.
Sauté spinach in a fry pan on low heat. (no oil)
Stir spinach with a spatula. Gently cook until soft.
Set spinach aside. Cover spinach with paper towel. Squeeze out water with hands. Repeat until most of the moisture is removed.
Use paper towel to remove excess moisture from smoked salmon.
Crack eggs into a mixing bowl.
Mix well with a fork or chopsticks.
Add salt and dashi. Then, stir together.
Set mixing bowl aside next to your stove top.
Turn on stove burner to low heat.
Coat tamagoyaki pan with butter. Holding the pan's handle, turn the fry pan back and forth and side to side to ensure all the corners get covered.
With a fork or chopsticks, put a small amount of egg on the surface of the pan. If the egg sizzles, the pan is hot enough.
Pour enough egg in pan to make a thin layer. Slightly tilt the pan and forth and side to side so the egg coats the entire bottom of the pan.
Once the first layer of egg is half cooked, add fillings on top of one another one-third of the layer of egg (in this order: smoked salmon, cheese, spinach). See photo below.
With a spatula, roll up the tamagoyaki towards you to carefully wrap fillings inside. Keep rolling until you reach the end of the pan closest to you.
Once completely rolled up, nudge the roll to the far side of the pan, away from you.
Repeat the process from step 2- recoat the pan with butter, add egg mixture, and roll. Continue this process until you run out of egg. Tip- When adding the second and third layers of egg, gently list the tamagoyaki roll with a spatula so the raw egg can slide underneath the roll and coat the entire pan.
Turn off stove. Use the spatula to gently put the tamagoyaki roll on a cutting board.
Use paper towel to remove some of the moisture from the outside surface of the roll.
Let cool for a minute or two.
Use a sharp knife to carefully slice the tamagoyaki roll into 4-5 pieces. Using a sawing motion to cut a line. Then press firmly down with knife.
DID YOU TRY OUT THIS RECIPE?
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The lesson I learned …
I’ve found that every recipe for my blog teaches me a new lesson.
Every creation is the result of a process of trial and error, a string of successes and flops.
My next new recipe was supposed to be “healthy, low carb okonomiyaki”.
After three attempts resulting in falling-apart okonomiyaki mush in a pan, I decided it wasn’t working.
I’m not saying I gave up or that it’s not possible. I was just being honest with myself: it was a good idea that was really hard to execute!
The pivotal moment for me was when I was checking out my senpai’s (mentor’s) website. Caroline’s beautiful website, Pickled Plum, with over 850 recipes, is super successful.
I noticed at the top of her site, one of her featured recipes was “ refreshing cucumber water”.
To be blatantly honest, my first thoughts were, “How hard could it be to make cucumber water?!”
(The answer: it’s not! LOL)
My second thought was, “If she’s a successful blogger making a recipe for cucumber water, then why am I making it so hard?!”
How am I ever going to reach 850 recipes if it takes me a month to produce even one recipe?
Most people are not trying to become culinary artists– they’re googling “easy to make, 10-minute recipes”.
From these failed attempts, I learned a really valuable lesson:
Start with the “low hanging fruit”.
Instead of struggling with a complicated recipe with 10+ ingredients, I made success so much easier by starting with what’s easy.
That’s why this recipe you’re reading is for tamagoyaki, something I already knew how to make. It was easy.
Just like Mr. Miyaki said in Karate Kid, “First learn stand, then learn fly.”
Ahh, what a classic movie.
What are the low hanging fruits in your life that you may be overlooking?