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tomago help

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  • MarkC Jan 1, 2010 11:06 PM
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I returned from a trip to Japan with a square tomago (omelette) pan and high hopes for making this delicious Japanese speciality. I've tried twice so far and each attempt was worse than the last. (They make it look so easy on Youtube). Egg that cooks too slowly develops into an unappetizing plasma - too quickly and it peels off the bottom of the pan in dry scales. My tomagos were a medly of plasma and scales. It surely has something to do with proper heating of the pan, and also the fact that the egg mixture is much thinner with the addition of dashi and other liquid seasonings.

Any tips would be appreciated!

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  1. I don't know if this will be any more useful than the video you've already seen, but I've used this recipe with some success, even without having the proper pan.

    http://lunchinabox.net/2007/07/10/mak...

    1. MarkC, I'm lol and have to say, "medley of plasma and scales" -- one of the most unappetizing descriptions I've *ever* read here!

      1. Link from a recipe from this weeks Los Angeles Times for tomago....maybe something in the cooking technique will help you.
        http://www.latimes.com/features/food/...

        1. The problems you describe lead me to believe that your Tomago pan is not properly seasoned.
          Tomago, as you may already have discovered, is done over high heat in a well heated and rather heavily oiled pan. "Heavy" oiled simply means that the hot oil is allowed the coat the pan before pouring off the excess. Some cooks/chefs coat the pan several times in succession to ensure that they have enough oil to finish the Tomago properly without sticking or burning. The Tomago layers cook quickly over the high heat so it isn't given enough time to burn (or even brown much at all) while it's firming up in the pan. If you're having to leave it spread out long enough for it to burn, you may be pouring your layers too thick. The "scales" are simply a product of insufficient oil and/or improper seasoning of the pan.

          1. Thanks, everybody, these were all helpful comments. Todao, your analysis sounds correct. I had no idea how hot to heat the pan, and probably heated it too slowly, and without sufficient seasoning. I like the balance of ingredients in the L.A. Times article, particularly the relatively small amount of sugar. The recipe I made tasted like a dessert.

            One more question, I'm using powdered dashi stock. I know purists may object, but this is for my repertoire of fast, weekday kids meals (my daughter is a fanatic of manga and everything else Japanese). I don't live in the U.S., and the product I bought only contains Japanese writing. How much water should I add with a ten gram packet?

            1. Remember, folks...it's TAMAGO, not tomago.

              2 Replies
              1. re: ricepad

                Yes, actually tamagoyaki for the grilled egg omelet as tamago is just a simple egg.

                With the water to instant dashi, just to it to taste. It should taste smokey and like the ocean.

                1. re: ricepad

                  Yeah, sorry about that, ricepad. Didn't do my homework on that one. I spent more than a year in Japan (many years ago) and should have known better. Incidentally, for those who haven't considered it, if you want some training in fantastic culinary skills, arrange for a cooking vacation in Japan. It can be a breathtaking, eye opening experience.

                2. Okay, folks, I may not be Jacques Pepin, but I'm not a total klutz in the kitchen either, and I can tell you that this dish is HARD. I feel a little better, having had a friend in Japan tell me that he was never able to ever manage making one.

                  My last attempt came out a bit better, but it was still more like dashi scrambled eggs. The trick seems to be getting the exact right temperature and the exact right amount of egg mixture in the pan so that the bottom doesn't dry out before the top is set. The damn thing wanted to slide all the time instead of roll, probably a sign that the eggs weren't sufficiently set. I'm always afraid of overcooking eggs, so I may not have waited long enough. I still had scales on the bottom, but they were easy enough to scrape off in between (attempted) rolls. I know a poor workman blames his tools, but my pan may not be the greatest either. I bought it in Japan, and it looks like stainless steel with copper cladding, so it may have uneven heating characteristics.

                  One suggestion I saw on the internet which I think is a good one, even though it adds another step and more to clean, is straining the egg mixture through a strainer. It makes for a homogeneous result, and gets rid of the nasty bits. Might be good for omelets in general.

                  Anyway, I'll keep at it, but anyone who's thinking of trying this- don't believe people who say that it's easy. This seems to be one of those zen arts that requires years of mastery.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: MarkC

                    MarkC, are you in NYC? If you are I will volunteer to come to your house and make it with you. It sounds like you are almost there. I make it at least once a week for my husband's bento.

                    Other tips that might help:
                    Use a lot of oil for the pan. I have a small piece of paper towel that I oil each time after I roll the egg off to one side (but only after oiling that side).

                    Also, sounds like you are putting in too much. To master the skill, start with a thin layer, let it completely (or almost set) and then roll.

                    If you are adept at chopsticks, then stick with that. But, some people start off with using a spatula until they can master the temperature and thickness.

                    Finally, what type of tamagoyaki pan did you get? A nonstick surface or the traditional one? When I purchased the traditional one at Tsukiji Market the salesperson said that the pan needed to be seasoned before I started using it.

                    Good luck!

                    1. re: Yukari

                      Yukari, I am not in NYC, not even in the U.S., or I would definitely take you up on your offer. I also bought my pan at the Tsukiji market. It is stainless steel, not iron, I've never heard of seasoning a stainless steel pan. I think my problem is putting in too much and not letting it cook enough. I always err on the side of undercooking. After I work up the nerve to try again, I'll cook it more.

                      1. re: MarkC

                        My pan looks like the copper pots and the staff suggested I fill it almost halfway up with oil and let that cook for a while.

                        It will be easier with thinner layers. Good luck!

                  2. It's actually not that difficult to master, but it takes practice. It'd be helpful if you could watch somebody who knows how to do it...there's only so much technique you can glean from text. If you don't have access to somebody to show you, all I can say is that eventually, you'll get it if you practice enough and persevere. Remember, too, that this simple dish takes patience and time to build in the pan - you can't rush it.

                    I cook tamago over medium-low heat, not high heat as todao suggests, but that's just the way I was taught.

                    Gambatte!

                    1. For those who may not own or have access to the special pan used to prepare the Tamago, I've had success making them in a medium size pan using a spatula to fold the egg back on to itself in thirds, then adding more egg batter to repeat successive folding steps. I cheat a bit when plating by cutting the ends square with a very sharp knife.
                      Just be careful not to allow the egg to brown. I use a stainless steel (All Clad) saute pan with gently sloping sides because it's easier to control the amount of oil used but I suspect a similar non-stick pan would work too.
                      When I mentioned earlier that most chef's I've watched perform their magic over high heat, I use an electric range and rely on medium high heat. With a gas flame it's easier to control the heat with the periodic removal of the pan from the burner so high heat seems to work out well. With my electric range I'm not able to get the pan off the heat and then back on and maintain an even temperature so I rely on the consistent temperature of the radiating element to manage the heat.