Japanese Omurice: an omelette wrapped around fried rice…. so homey, so simple, so genius (and a great way to use up some leftovers)! We came upon our first fried rice omlette in Hawaii on the Big Island at Teshima’s in Kealakekua. It’s one of their house specialties, although in their case they do it island-style by stir frying their rice with spam or Portuguese linguica. In my subsequent reading up on this dish, I learned that it’s a one of those items you’ll often find on kids’ menus in Japan. So I suppose it’s like the Japanese equivalent of macaroni and cheese or chicken nuggets, but in my opinion it’s leaps and bounds better. Don’t get me started on kids’ menus — erghhh!
For me fried rice is one of those “cooking 101” kind of dishes that every kid should learn how to make. It’s not really a recipe so much as a technique: fry an egg, fry some left over rice until it’s a little bit crispy, chop and sizzle up some leftovers, splash a few Asian sauces then toss it all together into one glorious bowl of yumminess. Lately we’ve been experimenting with some variations on fried rice: Jean George’s elegantly minimal leek, ginger and garlic version, and also with using various kinds of rices, but the leftover, “kitchen sink” version remains our favorite. I am convinced that you will always be surrounded by friends if you know how to make a tasty fried rice. And now that Luca is just old enough to start working at the stove with supervision one of our summer vacation projects is “fried rice” class. Perhaps we’ll even bring in Gung Gung for a little master class (learning from mom is good, but learning from grandpa is better!).
Omurice takes humble fried rice to a slightly new place, putting the egg on the outside and wrapping it all up into a pretty omelette package. My two main takeaways from attempting this dish at home is that you need a good pan, one that you know will absolutely not stick and will allow your finished omelette to slide easily onto your serving plate. If you succeed, you will feel like Jacques Pepin! Secondly, while I normally like the grains of my fried rice to be dry and separated (using leftover rice is the cardinal rule of fried-rice making) in the case of omurice, slightly moister rice works better. A moister rice will cling together so that your entire omelette doesn’t tumble out when you cut into it.
Omurice – Japanese Fried Rice Omelette
(makes 1 large omelette: enough for one hungry adult or 2 kids. Scale up the ingredients to feed more people, but to keep the proportions right make omelettes in 2 egg + 1 cup fried rice batches)
- 1 cup leftover rice
- Fried rice add-ins of your choice: chopped leftovers, grated carrot, frozen peas, etc.
- Your favorite Asian sauces such as soy sauce, sesame oil, oyster sauce
- Sliced Scallion and cilantro leaves
- 2 eggs, beaten
- Vegetable oil for frying
Make the fried rice (this can be done in advance of making the omurice, just reheat the fried rice before filling your omelette):
- Lightly oil a saute pan, add the rice and stir fry until some of the grains start to get crispy (about 5-8 minutes). ** In the picture above, I sauteed some leeks first before adding my rice. **
- While the rice is crisping, prep your fried rice ingredients (chop leftovers into bite sized pieces, defrost a handful of frozen peas, grate a carrot, etc.).
- When the rice is crisped, stir in your add-ins until they are framed through and well incorporated into the rice.
- Season to taste with soy sauce, sesame oil, and a dash of oyster sauce and garnish with chopped scallion and cilantro.
Make and fill the omelette:
- Heat about 1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
- Beat 2 eggs in a bowl then pour the eggs into the hot pan, tilting the pan so that the egg coats the bottom of the pan.
- Cook the eggs, swirling pan, until omelette sets but top is still moist (1-2 minutes). Check to make sure your omelette is not sticking by lifting up the sides and loosening it as needed. Shake the omlette in the pan to make sure it moves and will slide out after you fill it.
- Arrange the fried rice down center. Using a rubber spatula, slide omelette onto a plate, then roll the omelette around the filling.
If you want to be authentic, serve with ketchup, if you’re Simran pour on the Sriracha.