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Posted on Sep 20, 2007 | 29 comments

Shortcut tamagoyaki or Japanese rolled egg

Shortcut tamagoyaki or Japanese rolled egg

Sometimes I’d like to have tamagoyaki (Japanese rolled omelette) at home, but just can’t be bothered to spend the time it takes to make the individual layers. A recent Orange Page magazine story on make-ahead bento lunches showed how to make a speedy shortcut version of tamagoyaki in a round frying pan with no rolling, so I was intrigued. Essentially molded scrambled eggs, I made this the other day when I was making dashimaki tamago for four people using eight eggs. This many eggs would ordinarily mean making two separate rolls the standard way, but that was just too much to deal with on a tight schedule. So I tried out the super-speedy version and was pleased with the result. I wouldn’t serve it to impress guests or anything, but it’s definitely a nice tool in the speedy bento lunch toolbox. I used my standard recipe for dashimaki tamago, but this method is actually easier with tamagoyaki as there’ll be less leakage when the egg rests on the cutting board (recipes and full tutorial for both dashimaki and tamagoyaki here).

Shortcut tamagoyaki

Making shortcut tamagoyaki #1

Scramble eggs normally over medium heat until heated through but not dry (click on photo for a larger view of the moist curds).
Making shortcut tamagoyaki #2

Spread a large piece of plastic wrap out on a cutting board, and turn out the moist egg curds onto the plastic wrap while still hot moldable. Tightly wrap the egg with the plastic wrap, and use your hands to form it into a log shape that’s slightly larger than a regular tamagoyaki roll. Let it sit, tightly wrapped, for 10 minutes so that the egg sets up in the right shape. Unwrap and cut into slices.
Making shortcut tamagoyaki #3

You can also use a bamboo sushi mat (‘makisu’) to push the egg into shape, as shown here.

Tip: You’ll get best results with this method if you prepare the more solid tamagoyaki as opposed to dashimaki tamago, but dashimaki is also doable. The excess liquid in dashimaki tamago will spill out of the plastic wrap after molding (also during molding if you’re not careful). After you unwrap it, just dry the entire egg log by blotting lightly with paper towels and slice as usual. You can also make a variation by reducing the amount of dashi in the egg mixture, thus reducing the amount of leakage at the end.
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  1. I was about to say that that looks remarkably similar to what I know as “loafed” scrambled eggs or as an old version of an omelette (that one wasn’t totally scrambled though, nor was it plastic wrapped – I’d have to show you to explain) ;).

  2. Another useful entry, biggie! Just a thought—a musubi press would work with this too, right? Or any other loaf-shaped press?

  3. @1 from Jessica: I’m definitely curious about your “loafed” scrambled eggs!

  4. @2 from kaoko: Thanks, kaoko! A musubi press (or oshizushi press) would definitely work, although you’d have square corners instead of rounded corners. I’d even take this a step further and say you can use any kind of mold or press at all — egg molds, ice cream sandwich molds, onigiri molds, etc. Just make sure the egg is hot when you put it in. Love your beautiful bento blog kitchencow.com BTW!

  5. Wow… I really wish I could find this issue. It sounds like there are so many great shortcuts for making bento in this one. Thank you for sharing!! I will give this one a try tonight.

  6. @5 from FUYU: It’s a pretty good issue — I’d be more excited if I were more into cooking Japanese food all the time.

  7. @ 3, Biggie. Sorry for the delay, things are fairly uncool around here… anyway, this recipe I’ve done is from the 1930s. It is said to be a classic omelette. You pour in the mixed eggs in some heated butter or oil (in a heavy iron omelette pan! forget teflon!) and stir with a fork once or twice but without actually scrambling it further. Once the omelette is cooked but still “eggy” on the top (the omelette should not be stuck to the surface of the pan), you gently fold it over itself and let it set in the far bottom (one third) of the pan. If you do this in the very eggy stage, the omelette will turn loafy when you flip it over onto a serving plate or whatever you choose to flip it over onto.
    I doubt you can slice it as neatly as you can with yours, but it is chopstick friendly, guaranteed :).

  8. bottom of pan, not surface of pan… brain cell escape…

  9. Oh!!! This looks delicious (as always!).

    I was just wondering, if I add in chopped bacon into the eggs will the tamagoyaki still set? ^__^

  10. @7 from Jessica: Ooh, I’m sorry things are uncool with you now — I hope everything improves for you in short order. :-( Your omelette recipe does indeed sound like a classic omelette; same principle, absolutely. BTW, your comments are now showing up in my e-mail again for some reason! That bug appears to be fixed, so hooray!

  11. @9 from Redqueens: It should absolutely set up with chopped bacon as long as there’s not so much that it drastically reduces the egg surface area. You could also use any sort of interesting add-in for the eggs: sauteed greens, tarako, herbs, chopped meat/fish, etc.

  12. I have a question about the plastic wrap.. with all the scare about getting plastic wrap hot (supposedly it lets off toxic chemicals) can something else like was paper be used instead? Thanks. It looks AMAZING!

  13. @12 from jocundfey: Sure, you could use just the bamboo sushi mat (better for tamagoyaki than dashimaki because of the excess liquid), parchment paper, wax paper, etc. Whatever you’re comfortable with.

  14. great! i tried to make the tamagoyaki but it ended up with the eggs uncooked and my girlfriend referred to it as the “Japanese baby arm eggs.”

    now they’ll be fully cooked

  15. @15 from annie: You know, there’s a quick fix for undercooked tamagoyaki: pop the whole shaped roll into the microwave on medium-low power for just long enough to firm everything up (be careful not to overcook). Sometimes you don’t realize it’s still runny until you let it cool and start slicing it — ack.

  16. How long does this keep? Does it need to be refrigerated?

  17. Hi Biggie! I just found your site and love it! Can’t wait to try some of your wonderful bento ideas. I’ve recently moved back to the U.S. from Tokyo–lived there 3 years but never had time to learn Japanese :-(
    I’m so excited to find a site where I can attempt to create my own bentos, quickly! I really, really miss the ease of popping into a local bento shop for a well-balanced meal, so I’m looking forward to attempting to recreate those.
    Btw, when I clicked on “(recipes and full tutorial for both dashimaki and tamagoyaki here)” on this page, the link was incorrect. It has two “http//” so it won’t work. Took me a minute to figure out what was wrong.
    I’ve bookmarked your blog and will keep checking back for new posts. Thanks for your great blog!!!

  18. @17 from Kat: I haven’t tested out storage limits in the refrigerator yet, but I’d say it’s best to eat it up within a couple of days. If you’re going to eat your lunch soon after packing (2 hours or so), there’s no need to refrigerate, but longer than that you’re in the danger zone and tossing an ice pack in your lunch container would be the safest thing. It’s a judgment call — think about the storage conditions of your lunch until you’re able to eat (hot weather? cool?).

  19. @18 from Gloria: Thank you for pointing out the link problem, Gloria — I just fixed that (d’oh!). When I lived in Japan (Osaka and Tokyo, 1989-1999), I also loved picking up interesting bentos from convenience stores, department store basements, etc. — relatively cheap and tasty (and easy!). It’s not something I would have predicted I would miss after leaving, but there you go!

  20. How did I miss this post!? This is perfect for me, since I haven’t wanted to shell out the money for a proper tamagoyaki pan quite yet, and normal tamagoyaki always seems so… well… oily.

  21. @21 from kopiikat: Ah, I KNEW there was I reason I put so many back-links into my posts! So glad you discovered a helpful post after reading Lunch in a Box so regularly.

  22. This is a fantastic tip! I just tried it and it worked wonderfully. I’ll definitely be making tamagoyaki more often now that I don’t have to worry about screwing up the rolling! ;)

  23. @23 from Katzu: Glad to hear it worked for you! It’s a no-fuss shortcut method.

  24. This is brilliant!!!!! I love tamagoyaki, and finally I can make some on my own! Thank you.

  25. When i made this i was in a hurry so insted of letting it sit for 10 minuites i just wraped it up well and droped it in cold water and held it there for about 30 seconds and it worked well.
    Just thought this information might help someone.

  26. Hmm, I used to just scramble the tamagoyaki mixture when I wasn’t quite skilled at making the rolled kind, but I felt that the textures came out different and prefer the texture of the rolled tamagoyaki. Maybe it’s just me, do you feel the same way?

  27. @27 from Joyc: I too prefer the texture of rolled tamagoyaki, but thought the scrambling method was interesting.

  28. i saw a recipe where instead of doing all this just boil some water get a ziplock bag leave it in for like 10 minutes and there you have it an omelet i think you should try it because it comes out the same shape and its really cool

  29. I ave a shortcut to the tamagoyaki that looks alot more like the original. I wish I knew how to explain it…