Japan is the leading egg-consuming country globally, followed by China and Paraguay. On average, a Japanese adult eats about 320 eggs every year!
If you visit Japan, you will quickly learn that eggs are more popular than other foods. But why are egg dishes so widespread?
For starters, they are easy to prepare. They’re also delicious, not to mention nutritious. And finally, eggs are plentiful, inexpensive, and easy to obtain.
Here are eleven of the most popular Japanese egg dishes you will come across if you visit the country. You may even want to try making these delicious meals yourself!
As the name suggests, omurice’s two main ingredients are omelet and rice. A mixture of rice, ketchup, and chicken is pan-fried and then wrapped into a thin layer of omelet. Many cooks add more ketchup once the dish has finished cooking.
In another variation, scrambled eggs are mixed into fried rice, and demi-glace sauce is added instead of ketchup.
Omurice preparation is heavily influenced by ingredients and cooking techniques from the west. Although it is a traditional dish in Japan, it is commonly served or prepared in many non-traditional restaurants in Japan.
This dish is easy and quick to prepare. It will take you no more than 20 minutes from start to finish. The most significant advantage of this dish is that you can use leftover rice to prepare it, thereby reducing waste.
Once you have the rice, the other ingredients you may need are eggs, veggies, and a source of protein, like tofu, bacon, ham, or chicken.
Omusoba is made from eggs, carrots, onions, cloves, garlic, cabbage, sugar, sheet nori, tonkatsu sauce, and meat. It’s a delicious dish wrapped inside an omelet. This traditional Japanese egg dish is typically served with a brown sauce like Worcestershire sauce.
Many Japanese consider omusoba comfort food, which they enjoy on rainy or cold days. This dish will take about 25 minutes to prepare if you want to make it at home. You can find omusoba in almost all Japanese restaurants and izakayas (Japanese brasseries).
Chawanmushi is a Japanese word meaning “steamed in a tea bowl.” It is a custard soup typically served in small, lidded cups.
Like most Japanese egg dishes, chawanmushi can form part of the main meal or serve as an appetizer. The custard soup comprises a mixture of eggs and other ingredients such as steamed shrimp, ginkgo nuts, tofu, mushrooms, soy sauce, or Japanese stock (dashi).
Chawanmushi originated in Osaka and Kyoto during the Kansei era and later spread to Nagasaki and Edo. You can serve it hot, cold, or warm, depending on your taste or the season, and you can garnish it with more seaweed, Japanese parsley, or carrot shavings.
Chawanmushi has a savory profile. It is usually topped with shrimp, chicken, fish cake (kamaboko), ginkgo, or shiitake mushrooms when served as part of the main course.
With its lovely ivory color, this egg dish looks as delicious as it tastes. This steamed custard has a silky and smooth texture, while the vegetables and savory sweet meat make it highly delectable. And the juicy broth makes each bite surprising and satisfying.
You should expect a complex yet delicate flavor from your chawanmushi cup. You will experience a balance of saltiness and sweetness distinct from its ingredients. This contrast is perhaps why many people use it as an appetizer.
Plus, the seasonings—sake, mirin, soy sauce, and dashi—contribute to an umami taste that makes the custard uniquely delicious.
4. Ajitsuke Tamago
Ajitsuke tamago is among the most popular Japanese egg dishes comprising soft-boiled eggs. Boiled eggs are soaked in soy sauce and mirin. You can eat ajitsuke tamago as a snack, as a ramen topping, or as part of a full meal (bento).
To prevent the yolk from hardening, boil the eggs for only a few minutes. You can chill and soak the boiled egg for a few days (or overnight) in water, soy sauce, and a mirin mixture.
You only need five ingredients to prepare ajitsuke tamago: sugar, water (or sake), mirin, and soy sauce. For the marinade, exploit your creativity by creating your own version using ingredients such as chili flakes.
5. Oyakodon (Oyako Donburi)
When it comes to mainstream fast foods in Japan, you will find a wide variety of options, from French fries and hamburgers to donburi and noodles. At lunchtime, many cafeterias and diners are crowded with individuals searching for fast food. These people mostly order oyakodon, which is an on-the-go meal.
Oyakodon, which translates to “parent-and-child rice bowl,” is a popular Japanese soul food. The parent is the chicken, while the egg is the child.
Simmer eggs with onions, soy sauce, and dashi to prepare this dish, then pour the mixture over steamed rice.
In Japan, everything about rice bowls brings warmth and comfort; rice holds excellent cultural and nutritional significance. Consequently, many Japanese egg dishes also contain rice. Like Katsudon and Gyudon, Oyakodon is a popular dish in Japanese restaurants and a favorite in many homes.
Tamagodon is easy to prepare, making it a good choice if time is not on your side. It is a donburi dish comprising fluffy eggs atop steamed rice. You can use onions to enrich the omelet and add a savory sauce, which you can make using soy sauce, dashi, and mirin.
Before you serve it, you can garnish tamagodon with chopped onions and nori seaweed. You will only need a quarter onion, cooked rice, and two eggs as the main ingredients for one serving.
Like many Japanese egg dishes, you can prepare tamagodon cheaply and quickly, and you will still get a nutritious and filling meal. Add some Asian mushrooms and vegetables to increase the dish’s nutritional value if you wish.
TKG is an acronym for Tamago Kake Gohan, which stands for “egg on rice.” It is considered a soul food by many Japanese people. TKG is available in many Japanese restaurants and convenience stores, but you can also prepare it at home.
Preparing TKG at home is cheap and easy because it doesn’t require many components. All Japanese cuisines emphasize natural taste, freshness, and simple ingredients. To this extent, TKG checks all the boxes.
The main difference between TKG and other Japanese egg dishes is that the eggs are served raw in bowls of steamed rice with soy sauce poured on top. The idea of eating raw eggs might put you off, but this is very common and popular in Japan. Raw eggs are safe to eat because they are sterilized and have the best-before date printed on them.
Many soy sauce manufacturers produce particular sauce types for use with TKG. These sauces contain bonito (katsuobushi), kelp (knobu), and other ingredients that give TKG the umami taste.
Chefs use their creativity to prepare this dish, so the TKG you order at one restaurant may not have the same taste as that from another restaurant. Even when preparing this dish at home, you can vary the ingredients to get different flavors every time you prepare TKG.
For example, some people like cracking eggs directly on the rice, while others prefer mixing soy sauce and eggs before adding them to the rice. Other variations come from the toppings used.
8. Tamago Nigiri Sushi
When sampling Japanese egg dishes, tamago nigiri sushi should be at the top of your list if you like sweet foods. Traditional Japanese tamago nigiri sushi contains hand-pressed rice topped with an egg omelet. You need a slice of omelet for topping.
Tamago nigiri sushi is sweet because it is cooked with sugar and dashi. It is fluffy and light, making it suitable for eating by hand in just one bite.
Tamago nigiri sushi dishes offer a lot of room for variety and experimentation. If you visit multiple restaurants, you will notice the difference in tastes of the tamago nigiri sushi served. You can use your creativity to switch up the ingredients as you please.
Many people love tenshindon for its crab meat content. It also contains rice and other ingredients that make it delicious and healthy.
Tenshindon is one of the popular donburi dishes (meals served with rice). The main components of tenshindon are eggs and crab meat, but it also contains sliced ginger, peas, mushrooms (optional), and Negi onions.
Commonly, tenshindon is served in bowls, where the omelet is placed on top of the rice. A thick sauce made from ketchup, starch, chicken broth, oyster sauce, sesame oil, rice wine, sugar, vinegar, and soy sauce is poured over it. The taste of this combination will make you want more and more of it.
As with other Japanese egg dishes, the sauce is one of the most important components of the meal. Ensure the ingredients are in the correct ratio for a better taste. It will take practice and patience to get a perfect balance.
10. Onsen Tamago (Ond Tamago)
You can make onsen tamago (hot spring eggs) by cooking eggs slowly in baskets dipped in onsen hot springs. The spring’s temperature makes the eggs flavorful and creamy, giving them a unique texture among Japanese egg dishes. You don’t have to remove the shells to ensure the egg white remains loose while the shell becomes soft.
Once cooked, the eggs are served on steamed rice, and then soy broth or sauce is poured around them. You can add a little grated daikon and garnish it with chopped onions to add more flavor.
When eating Onsen Tamago, crack the eggs and eat them with udon, a beef rice bowl (Gyu-don), or a side dish you’ve dipped in soy broth or sauce. When preparing this dish, the egg yolk is not fully cooked; the egg white is also somewhere between half-cooked and raw. This is achieved by cooking the eggs at about 70 degrees Celcius for about 30 minutes.
11. Tamagoyaki (Rolled omelet)
Savory yet sweet, tamagoyaki makes a tasty side dish or breakfast. It resembles golden pillow bars but is a little sweeter with a custardy texture.
Tamagoyaki is popular among Japanese adults and children alike. You might have tasted rolled eggs as a side dish or as part of the main dish in a Japanese lunch box (bento) or atop sushi.
This dish may seem challenging to make due to its artful presentation, but that isn’t the case. All you need to learn is how to roll thin omelets and fold them into layers, which you can then slice. This isn’t as difficult as it may sound with practice.
The first step in making a simple tamagoyaki dish is to beat the eggs the way you do when you want to make American-style omelets. You then season the eggs with soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and a pinch of salt.
Next, heat a pan and pour a thin layer of the egg mixture. Wait until the bottom of the mixture sets. Remove it carefully, then roll it up in several thin layers. Finally, prepare the egg for serving by shredding it and cutting it into pieces.
The one thing you will love about tamagoyaki and other Japanese egg dishes containing rolled omelets is that you can experiment with different fillings and shapes. You can add meat, salmon flakes, veggies, cheese, seaweed, and other ingredients to make the tamagoyaki more flavorful.
Japanese Egg Dishes: A Kaleidoscope of Flavors
It’s impossible to compare all the Japanese egg dishes discussed above. These dishes are all mouth-watering and suit different occasions.
If you are a fan of egg dishes, you must have realized that there are unlimited options for Japanese egg dishes: fried, boiled, half-cooked, raw eggs, you name it.
The most significant advantage of eggs is that they cook fast. In most cases, it will take you less than 10 minutes to prepare a delicious meal using eggs and other simple ingredients.
If you visit Japan, try as many egg dishes as possible to appreciate this traditional Japanese cooking style. You can also learn the cooking process to enjoy these meals when you’re back home!