leave your inhibitions at the door
While perusing Facebook one day, I came across a link to “The World’s Simplest Breakfast You’re Probably Too Scared to Try” You’d think that I would’ve learned by now not to click links on Facebook because they’re mostly garbage or, if not, a total time suck. But this was about food and sounded like a challenge – OF COURSE I WAS GOING TO CLICK IT.
It was about a very basic Japanese recipe called “Tamago Gohan” which means “egg on rice”. And that’s basically just about it – a raw egg cracked over freshly cooked rice with some sesame seeds and soy sauce for good measure. The description of it being simple, with rib-sticking satisfaction drew me in.
The danger of the meal is due to the raw egg, which can contain salmonella bacteria. Getting infected with the bacteria results in fever, abdominal cramps, and a serious case of the shits. The Food and Drug Administration recommends that people cook eggs until firm, not runny, and dishes with eggs in them be cooked to 160 degrees. And if recipes call for raw eggs (e.g. Caesar salad dressing) the recommendation is to use pasteurized eggs. So there you have it. If you want to avoid getting sick, then follow the FDA’s guidelines.
On the other hand… where’s the fun in that?
I’m not one of those people that mistrusts the government, they generally do a great job of protecting us. But fully cooked scrambled eggs? Ick. No soft boiled eggs? I suppose I could read the labels and make sure that I only get pasteurized eggs but, like most other things, I’m way too lazy to do that. Nope, I just go for it. Besides, I saw somewhere that only 1 in 30,000 eggs will have salmonella. Those are pretty good odds. And all the other stuff I’ve put into my belly – including copious amounts of Bourbon – would probably kill of any harmful bacteria.
In other words – I’m an idiot. Don’t be like me. There. Is that enough of a disclaimer on this recipe?
I can remember back when I was in Kindergarten, I used to eat a variation of this all the time. Being swarthy Asian immigrants we always had a good supply of rice on hand. I would take an egg, mix it in with rice, and then – because we were in America now – added ketchup. I’m not really sure how this breakfast ritual came to be. Maybe my parents knew of the dish since Japan isn’t that far from the Philippines. (Then again, they lived through World War II and they weren’t too fond of anything Japanese.) However being a swarthy Filipino meant that we would always have garlic fried rice with eggs for breakfast, so I doubt it was from my parents. Maybe I came up with it on my own?
This recipe really couldn’t be easier and I wanted to re-live my youth. I had all the ingredients in the house, including the optional piece of Kombu for the rice –
If you’re not familiar with Kombu, it’s dried kelp that’s used in making dashi, the broth in many Japanese dishes. I was intrigued with the idea of adding it to rice while cooking, so in the rice cooker it went. I’m not sure what flavor it was supposed to add to the rice, but I couldn’t taste any difference. If you make this dish, you won’t miss out if you don’t have Kombu.
So now you can’t use that excuse to not try it.
Tomago Gohan ( 1 serving)
1.5 cups uncooked sushi rice
2 cups water, plus more for rinsing
1 piece dried kombu, about the size of a playing card (optional)
1 large egg
Soy sauce and sesame seeds, to taste
1 – In a large bowl, add the rice and cover with at least two inches of cold water. Moving your hand in a circular motion, gently stir the rice until the water is very cloudy. Then straing the rice through a fine mesh sieve and repeat process until the water is no longer cloudy when stirring, 4 or 5 more times.
2 – In a rice cooker or pot with a lid, combine the rice, 2 cups water, and the kombu (if using). Cook the rice according to the package instructions.
3 – Transfer about 1 cup of the steamed rice to a serving bowl, top with the egg, soy sauce, and sesame seeds.
4 – To eat, stir vigorously with chopsticks.
The first time I made this I went with the soy sauce and sesame seeds. It tasted good, and I can definitely see the appeal. The article was right – it is a very satisfying meal. If the food safety reasons don’t scare people off, the slimy raw egg texture probably would. However, mixing it around in the rice gave the dish a creamy texture that was very pleasant.
I made it a second time, this time re-creating my childhood version with ketchup instead of soy. You know that saying “ you can’t go home again”? That was pretty true here. Maybe my memory was foggy or maybe my tastes have changed from when I was a kid, but it didn’t taste anywhere near as good as I recall.
Luckily, I had extra rice and another egg. This time, I went with what I always put on my eggs – hot sauce. Both sriracha and Tabasco to be exact. I know it’s far from what the Japanese would do… But it was DELICIOUS.
Have you ever had this? Are you brave enough to try?