Tamago Yaki with Spinach and Carrots (菠菜胡萝卜玉子烧)
May 21, 2022  Print
Ever since my eldest returned to in-person kindergarten in late January (after being homeschooled by me for almost two years), I began preparing lunch boxes for him in the morning. I have been experimenting with quite a few bento/lunchbox style foods at home that are both quick to make and lunchbox friendly. This Tamago Yaki with Spinach and Carrots, a.k.a. Japanese egg omelette, is one of his top choices.
I have always been a big fan of tamago yaki. Tamago is Japanese for egg and yaki means to grill or cook. Tamago Yaki (玉子烧) together represents a special type of egg roll, sliced from an egg log made by repeatedly rolling thin sheets of seasoned egg. They are usually mildly sweet or savory with a bit of umami flavor. Every Japanese household has its own version. It’s one of the most popular items Japanese moms pack in their kids’ lunchboxes. If you have dined in a Japanese restaurant, you have probably tasted tamago sushi (egg sushi), which is basically a rice ball topped with tamago yaki.
So I am sharing my own version of the Japanese egg omelette, which I make quite often, both as part of a breakfast and as part of a bento box for my kids. Don’t limit yourself to spinach and carrots. I’ve also added green onions, seaweeds, and imitation crab meat when making these for my kids. Both of my boys love them and they always want more. If you don’t have a particular seasoning, you can always substitute with others. You can also make them into egg sushi (tamago sushi) by adding the tamago yaki on top of rice balls, though the tamago yaki for sushi is usually sweeter. And, if you are used to the sweet tamago sushi made in a Japanese restaurant, you may want to add more sugar to the egg mixture.
I’ve made this Spinach Carrot Tamago Yaki many times with a small round non-stick pan. It worked great. But recently I decided to invest in a Japan-made copper egg omelette pan because I will probably be making tomago yaki for a long time until my family gets tired of it. The copper omelette pan definitely takes some getting used to and requires more oiling compared to my non-stick pan. But it does heat faster and more evenly. And it always results in a perfectly shaped egg log that can be cut without the need to trim. I was able to make perfect-looking tamago yaki on my second try with the copper omelette pan!
Either way, you can make tamago yaki with a non-stick or a copper pan. If you are using a non-stick pan, the method is exactly the same. The end pieces will just be in a slightly odd shape.
Gluten Free, Low Carb
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: ~10 rolls
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon chopped and blanched spinach 1 + 1 tablespoon chopped baby carrots
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon water 2
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 small piece of kitchen paper towel
- Mix the 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1 teaspoon of light soy sauce, and 1 tablespoon of water thoroughly until the sugar has dissolved completely. Use a a measurement glass or a cup with both a handle and a spout.
- Crack the 3 large eggs in a mixing bowl, beating lightly until well mixed. Pour the egg mixture into the measurement glass and mix with the condiments.
- Add the 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil into a small shallow dish. Fold a small piece of paper towel and soak the paper towel in the oil. Make sure the paper towel is soaked but not dripping oil.
- Heat a Japanese omelette pan or a non-stick pan under low heat. When the pan is warm, use the oil soaked kitchen towel to oil the pan surface thoroughly. Make sure every nook and cranny is covered, especially if using a Japanese omelette pan. The surface needs to have a very thin layer of oil, not a thick one.
- Pour about 1/4 of the egg mixture into the pan and immediately spread around by tilting the pan with the handle to form a thin layer. Sprinkle the chopped spinach and baby carrots on top of the egg layer. Pop any air bubbles. If too much egg liquid remains on the surface, let it flow under the layer. Start rolling or pushing the egg layer to one side when the egg is still fairly moist but not runny. The first rolling/pushing doesn’t need to be pretty or uniform as long as all the eggs are pushed to one side. Ideally all the layers except the last one should be a light yellow color without any darkening.
- Slide the egg roll to the opposite side (back to the starting point). Oil the pan thoroughly again with the oil soaked kitchen towel. Then pour about 1/4 of the remaining egg mixture into the pan to form another thin layer. Wait a few seconds until the egg layer sets. With the surface still moist, start rolling the new layer around the egg roll.
- Slide the egg roll back to the starting point. Repeat a few more times until you have used all of your egg mixture or until the egg log has reached the size you want. Remove to a cutting board. Use a sushi mat to roll the log as it cools to ensure the proper shape (~5 minutes). Then slice the egg log into 1 cm thick pieces. Enjoy!
- I usually have some blanched spinach stored in a Ziploc bag ready for use in my refrigerator or freezer. Blanching spinach is super easy. Just add a bunch of whole spinach to a pot of boiling water. Transfer the spinach out after one minute and squeeze out the water after it’s cooled. Chop the spinach into small pieces. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in a freezer for up to 3 months.
- You can also use dashi instead, which is a base stock used extensively in Japanese dishes.
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