Tamago Kake Gohan: Food and Japanese History
Have any of you started experimenting with new Japanese foods since starting Duolingo's Japanese course? Or have you been looking at some that you'd like to try in the future? If so, share pics of those foods and a little history about how they came to be. ^_^
Tonight, I decided to try Tamago Kake Gohan for the first time in my life:
(As if I could get my version to look half that pretty--and even if I could, I don't have a bowl with pretty bunnies on it :P. So, I borrowed this beautiful example from Miss Mochi's Adventures. :D
Yup, you're not seeing things. That is a raw egg, smack dab in the middle of someone's breakfast rice. (Or in my case, dinner rice.)
When you get hungry and feel like something tasty, I’m guessing that most of you have never considered cracking a raw egg on top of some cooked rice. Many of you may even feel disgusted just by thinking about it, or maybe get worried about Salmonella poisoning. Yet, this simple tamago kake gohan 卵たまごかけ 御飯ごはん, consisting of only the two ingredients mentioned above (though usually you add a bit of soy sauce), is an eggs-elently delicious meal to many Japanese people.
Quick confession: I didn't have any soy sauce. So, after scouting out my food supplies, I snagged the chicken seasoning out of a packet of ramen. :P (But it tasted great!)
Since it is such a simple meal, some people refuse to consider the preparation of tamago-kake-gohan as “cooking”. Yet, famous Japanese cooking expert Harumi Kurihara introduced this dish in her Japanese cook book for foreigners: “Harumi’s Japanese Cooking“. There are now a lot of restaurants in Japan that actually specialize in serving this raw egg over cooked rice dish, and some are eggs-tremely famous. There is even an annual tamago-kake-gohan symposium! I know it’s pretty hard to swallow, but isn’t it at least eggs-citing to learn about such a popular and unique Japanese dish? Please “chick out” today’s post to get egg-ucated in this Japanese meal!
HISTORY OF TAMAGO-KAKE-GOHAN
Since ancient times the main meat consumed by the Japanese people has been fish, because of the Buddhist commandment against killing animals. Although the consumption of chicken was a little bit higher than the consumption of other land-animals, the egg was not considered to be food for a long time. In Shintoism, the egg is regarded as an offering to the Gods, and people believed that they would be punished if they ate eggs.
During the Edo Period (1603-1868), people began keeping chickens as pets (what is this, Portland, OR?). Shortly after, eggs began to become a regular part of some diets because they quickly came to realize that unfertilized eggs didn’t hatch. One result of this new knowledge was that they could stop considering an egg as a creature under heaven. Because of that, people eventually lost the belief that eating an egg was a sin, so the act of doing so was no longer taboo. They then moved on from having chickens as pets to having chickens for the sole purpose of egg production and collection. Because eggs were considered a luxury and were a very expensive food item for a long time, nobody ever dreamed about using eggs for such a simple dish like tamago-kake-gohan.
Tag, you're it! :D
Please note, consuming raw egg carries the risk of salmonella poisoning. The article I linked has some health safety tips. But, everyone is ultimately responsible for taking steps to protect their health.
The risk of salmonella poisoning is real: we had a Japanese neighbor who routinely stirred a raw egg into his fried rice, and one day he and his boys ended up in the hospital. I have heard that there are specially pre-treated eggs in Japan that are safe - is that true?
We have made Anjali Prasertong's recipe for onigiri a few times - we even have silicon molds:
It's not 100% authentic (the salmon is distributed in the rice, not gathered in the middle) but
とても おいしい ですよ。
I would love to know how to do that cabbage-pork pancake (okonomiyage?), so if anyone has a good recipe for that, bring it on!
All eggs in Japan are pre-treated to be eaten raw, and even Japanese people would get sick if they ate raw egg outside Japan. In fact the expire date on egg packs in Japan is the last date to eat them raw, and an additional two weeks can be added to that date if the eggs would be cooked. Oh, and okonomiyaki is not necessarily cabbage-pork pancake, it can be made from anything you prefer, that's why they call it okonomiyaki (お好み焼き) that literally means (your preference fried) to (fry what you prefer). Here are two recipes, Hiroshima style (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8HW1amlg28), and Osaka style (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6LcEdG-fs4).
Thank you! I had wonderful cabbage-pork okonomiyaki (!) in Kyoto this year, so that's what I would like to recreate. Off to youtube I go...
5 min later: ok, so "mine" is definitely Osaka style. That would be the recipe with all the ingredients listed in Japanese (hey: I recognized 水 - progress!!). Another learning opportunity, right?