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Posted on Mar 19, 2008 in Eggs, Freezing, Gluten Free, Lactose Free, Recipe, Tips, Tutorial or How-to | 53 comments

Microwaved thin egg sheets (usuyaki tamago)

Microwaved thin egg sheets (usuyaki tamago)

Japanese recipes sometimes call for thin sheets of egg omelette (usuyaki tamago) as a garnish (think hiyashi chuka cold noodles, chirashi zushi scattered sushi, or little shapes cut out of the egg with cutters), or as a decorative wrapper for fried rice or little rice ball purses. Think of them as a low-carb alternative to flour-based wraps or nori, for those who don’t like the flavor of seaweed. I’ve made these egg sheets in frying pans before, but it takes practice and technique to turn out an attractive result. Unless I’m using a slick, perfectly non-stick pan just for eggs, my efforts are doomed to failure and I’m left looking at an ugly pile of egg scraps. Very frustrating. When I was browsing speed bento cookbooks in a Japanese-language bookstore recently, though, my friend Mami-chan volunteered that she whips up thin egg sheets on a plate in the microwave all the time for her son’s bento lunches. I was intrigued. Was there an easier, faster way to make thin egg sheets using the microwave oven?

 

Speedy thin omelette (usuyaki tamago)

I did some research into Japanese-language recipes and techniques, and found that there are some tricks to producing a good microwave version of this classic. Plate selection is crucial, and seasoning is key to making something tastier than just thin scrambled eggs. (Read on for the full recipe, tutorial, freezing instructions, and a review of microwave-safe plastic wraps.)

TIP: You can make these in advance and freeze them for a speedy shortcut on time-pressed mornings (freezing directions follow the recipe).

Microwaved thin egg sheets (usuyaki tamago)

- Makes two to three egg sheets, depending on the size of the plate

- If you’re interested in making the traditional version in a frying pan, there’s a good tutorial here at Just Hungry. Beware of expensive non-stick pans with textured surfaces, though — they don’t release as well as a cheap, slick pan reserved just for eggs. Save your All Clad for something else.Kimchi fried rice lunch for toddler

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • dash of salt
  • 1 Tb water or dashi bonito stock for added flavor (feel free to use instant hon dashi granules dissolved in water, or even chicken or vegetable stock)
  • 1 tsp cornstarch, potato starch (katakuriko), tapioca starch or arrowroot starch (optional, but produces a sturdier egg sheet that is well suited to wrapping rice or other foods without tearing)
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil (optional)

If you’re using cornstarch, dissolve it in the water or stock to form a slurry. Beat in the egg, sugar, salt and vegetable oil. To avoid white specks in the final product, pass the egg mixture through a sieve. I don’t bother, as you’ll see below.

Choose a perfectly flat microwave-safe plate, preferably with a rim to contain the egg. At this point, you can choose to either line the plate with plastic wrap or not. I found the egg was slightly easier to release and work with when it was cooked on plastic wrap, but if you have concerns about microwaving plastic wrap or cooking on it, skip ahead to the directions for cooking directly on the plate.

Ziploc and Saran say that all of their products are completely free of dioxins that could leach into food. From their FAQ: “You also should be aware that dioxins can be formed only when chlorine is combined with extremely high temperatures, such as 1,500°F, which even the most powerful consumer microwave ovens are unable to produce. Our Saran and Ziploc products can be used with confidence when label directions are followed. All Saran Wraps, Ziploc Containers and microwaveable Ziploc Brand bags meet the safety requirements of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for temperatures associated with defrosting and reheating food in microwave ovens, as well as room, refrigerator, and freezer temperatures.” Cooking for Engineers also has an interesting article on microwave-safe containers and wraps.

Plastic wrap: high-heat and antibacterialGEAR: This seemed like the perfect opportunity to try out some Japanese plastic wrap made especially to withstand high heat (up to 150 deg. C, or 302 deg. F) and low temperatures (to -60 deg. C, or -75 deg. F). Daiso Japanese discount store (branches internationally) and Ichiban Kan (Japanese-style discount store in the SF Bay Area) both stock these for about US$1.50. These thicker specialty wraps are touted by the manufacturer as being safe for the microwave without leaching dioxins or other chemicals into the food (shown in the photo in the red box on the top and the yellow box on the very bottom, click on the photo for a larger annotated view). The wrap in the red box from Ichiban Kan is comprised of five layers: two polyethylene, two polypropylene, and one fatty acid ester in the middle for high temperatures. The wrap in the yellow box from Daiso is comprised of three layers: one polypropylene sandwiched between two layers of polyethylene. Also pictured is antibacterial vinyl chloride plastic wrap for maximum food safety (second from the top, from Daiso) and an additive-free polyethylene plastic wrap (third from the top, from Ichiban Kan) advertised as not leaching dioxins into food. All of these plastic wraps come with warnings to leave some space between the wrap and food when microwaving items high in fat or oil, as plastic has a high affinity for fat.

* * *

With Plastic Wrap:

Line the plate smoothly with a sheet of plastic wrap, and pour half of the egg mixture onto the plate (right on top of the plastic wrap).

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Cook at your microwave oven’s equivalent of 500W to 600W for approximately one minute, or until the egg in the center of the plate is cooked through. My microwave oven is a 1200W model, so I reduced the power level to 50% to compensate. You may need to experiment with power levels and cooking times. If the center is still runny when you pull it out, return the plate to the microwave and cook it a little longer until the egg sets. Try not to overcook as this leads to rubbery eggs.

 

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Once the egg has cooked, you should be able to slowly peel it from the plastic wrap. If you’re using the egg sheet as a wrapper, you may find it easier to keep the egg on the plastic wrap while moving it and shaping in order to avoid tears. If you’re going to julienne the egg to use in another dish, roll it into a cigar shape or fold into thirds, and cut into even strips.

 

 

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* * *

Without Plastic Wrap:

Spray a clean, flat plate with vegetable oil cooking spray, or wipe the plate with a lightly oiled paper towel.

 

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Pour half of the egg mixture onto the oiled plate and cook in the microwave according to the directions above.

 

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This was a somewhat successful attempt, but you can see in the center where the egg had not set when I removed it, so I put it back in the microwave for another 20 seconds to finish cooking.

 

Speedy thin omelette (usuyaki tamago)

Depending on the plate you choose, you may see some curling around the edges where the egg meets the plate rim. The blue plate had a more pronounced angle to the rim, so it wasn’t the best plate for this (see the resulting curling below). The un-oiled plastic wrap seems to help the egg stay in place without curling.

 

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Storage:

You can wrap and freeze the egg wrappers for a quick prep shortcut (use within a month for optimum quality), or refrigerate for a couple of days. To store a whole wrapper, you can either wrap it flat and stack, or roll it up on the plastic wrap as below. To store julienned egg strips, wrap small servings tightly in food wrap.

 

Rolling a thin omelette for freezing Rolled & cut thin omelettes for freezing

If freezing, place the wrapped egg into a plastic freezer container or freezer bag to avoid freezer burn. To use, let it defrost naturally in the refrigerator. Defrosting in the microwave risks overcooking and turning the egg rubbery — exercise caution if you decide to go this route. (NOTE: Hard-boiled eggs don’t do well in the freezer as they turn spongey, but you can wrap and freeze slices of tamagoyaki or frittata for more lunchtime shortcuts.)

 

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  1. My god you are the smartest bento maker on the planet! I will so have to try this, I have the perfect plate in mind!

  2. Very awesome. Will need to get some better plates for this, however. Hehe!

  3. I know what you mean about the overcooked eggs, I once tried making an omelet in the microwave. It ended in tears. ;_;
    Still, I didn’t know you could freeze eggs. I’ll have to try that, since making tamagoyaki layers can be a pain.

  4. Thank you so much for this. I have tried this recipe in the pan a few times before and it only ended in failure and frustration. I am looking forward to trying this out.

  5. Love it! Thanks for this info! :0)

  6. Yay!! This is great, I can’t wait to try it! Thank you.

  7. I have never thought of this! When I make kimbap, I like to put egg in it and I hate having to make all these little thin egg omelets…I even have a square plate that would work perfectly!

    DUH!!

  8. Wow, what a neat idea! I could see making a lot of interesting dishes from this, not just bento lunches.

  9. Thanks again – I was wondering how hard-boiled eggs would do in the freezer (easter eggs come to mind…). How do they do when you leave them inside the peel?

    I just love the egg sheet idea, will definitely link back when I use it for the first time!

    ;)

  10. I wonder if this could be used as a shortcut for omurice. I definitely want to try this out!

    Thanks for the tutorial! :D

  11. @1 from Deanna: Ha ha, you’re too kind! I found it interesting to see how the egg behaved on different plates, with and without plastic wrap.

  12. @2 from Yvo: Oh darn, a reason to go shopping for kitchen stuff? Please hang in there and suffer stoically for your eggs, Yvo! ;-)

  13. @3 from Elli: The internet cafe near my son’s school where I hang out some days has a bad habit of making their breakfast egg sandwiches in the microwave. I don’t even have to ask how they made them — you can tell, because they’re overcooked and rubbery. It’s too bad, because I get hungry when I’m there and the food isn’t that good…

  14. @4 from Erica: Yeah, I’ve had the same experience with making these in a pan. My good frying pans mangle them as they’re not slick enough, but my cheapo egg pan does okay. I think I’m usually just too lazy to make them on the stovetop, though — microwave is a better match for me in the mornings.

  15. @5 from Mer: My pleasure, Mer!

  16. @6 from snappiness: I hope you get good results, snappiness! Fiddle with the cooking time and power level if it doesn’t turn out right the first time. It was worth it for me.

  17. @7 from Kim: Kimbap, of course! I knew there were other dishes where this would come in handy, thanks!

  18. @8 from Kitt: I could see this being a good low-carb alternative to flour wraps or tortillas, or even to nori in temaki sushi or rolled sushi for people who don’t like the taste of nori.

  19. @9 from jokergirl: Hard-boiled eggs don’t do well in the freezer, in the shell or out. They get spongey and unappetizing, so I’d skip it altogether in favor of usuyaki.

  20. @10 from Sile: It can absolutely be used as a shortcut for omuraisu, Sile! Check out the photo of the wrapped kimchi fried rice next to the ingredients, above.

  21. whenever I made mcmuffin type sandwiches I always microwaved my eggs in a coffee cup, but I had never thought of using a plate to make egg wraps. Thank you for the great idea.

  22. @22 from reece: My husband is big on microwaving eggs in ramekins to eat on English muffins or bagels in the morning, but somehow I haven’t gotten into the habit. I really like these microwave egg wraps, though — this morning I used one to make mini sushi (wrapped, sliced onigiri?) for Bug, and he was a big fan. Says he wants it for breakfast and as a snack, too (a kid can dream, right?).

  23. Way helpful Biggie!! Thank you! I’ve been having a heck of time with these in my regular pans and just gave up…time for another go I think.

  24. Great post, Biggie. I’m going to link this when I get my bento posting going. It’s a really good explanation!!!

  25. @25 from Karmatir: Hope it works for you, Karmatir!

  26. @26 from Namahottie: Thanks for the kind comment, Namahottie (and nice name, BTW!).

  27. Just tried these for the heck of it and they do turn out quite easy. I used a corelle pasta bowl, and it was perfect. Nice and even throughout. DS is eating a chunk of cheese wrapped up in one as I type.

  28. @29 from Brook: Woo hoo! Success!

  29. Thank you so much for the information about these egg wrap techniques! I use plastic wrap on my onigiri because I dislike nori, but this is a nice alternative! Maybe even a ketchup filled onigiri would be yummy with egg–might have to do that in my bento tomorrow. ^__^

  30. @31 from dejikowaffo: My pleasure! Ketchup onigiri wrapped with egg sounds yummy — I look forward to the photos!

  31. Great ideas! May I know how long can we keep this in the freezer?

  32. Very clear and concise instructions. I’ll be putting this info to good use, that’s for sure. Thanks for that Biggie!

  33. @33 from aJ: Ooh, I’d forgotten about banana catsup! Must pick up a bottle, thanks for reminding me. :-)

  34. @34 from LZMommy: Use frozen wrappers within a month for optimum quality, and be sure to double-wrap them to prevent freezer burn.

  35. @35 from Ric: Thanks, Ric! Hope it works out for you.

  36. Thanks for the reply, appreciate it :)

  37. @39 from LZmommy: No problem! I would have liked to reply sooner, but yesterday was a bit crazy. I got something in my right eye and had a bad allergic reaction — had to go to the ophthalmologist and get many drugs. Blinking was painful and reading was difficult. But it’s much better now with the right medicine! :-)

  38. Glad to hear that you are feeling better :)

  39. @42 from Brande: Thanks for the very informative links on phthalates, Brande! I guess making the egg sheets directly on plates is the better alternative, then.

  40. I love your quick tips and how well you document everything! I have a daughter that doesn’t like the yolk of eggs though. Do you think just using the whites would work okay?

  41. @44 from Candy: Egg whites should be fine, but I haven’t personally tested it out. Let us know how it works for you!

  42. That’s a good one! And it can be low calorie!

  43. Thanks for the How-To. My attempts to make egg sheets using the cooktop have been messy – and unsuccessful.

    This method worked great. The tips about adjusting the time/cooking level based on microwave power are spot on. After some practice, I used a deep glass dish. (none of my plates were good candidates.)

    Worked like a charm. Thanks!

  44. Ingenious!

    I must try it out. :) But, do you know what the approximate diameter of your plate was?

  45. @49 from Joyc: The plate that worked was 10.75″ (27.5cm) across with the rim, with the flat inner portion 7.5″ (19cm) in diameter.

  46. I have had my best success with a glass pie plate.

  47. @51 from linney: A glass pie plate sounds like a great option — flat, rimmed and microwave-safe. Good idea!

  48. I think my microwave was too high because my egg puffed up immensely! It’s okay though because I was just trying it out as a snack. (I was going to wrap it around some thin sliced ham instead of using my low-carb wraps!) I’m pretty sure if I play around with the settings this will become a staple of my diet!! =)

  49. @53 from Ilsa: Yes, definitely play around with the microwave power settings and plate size. Low and slow will give you a nicer result.

  50. It worked today!! I had to use a larger plate and some cooking spray instead of the plastic wrap, but it was perfect!!

  51. OMG!!!! IT WORKS!!! I tried yesterday!!! this is how they do in Japan?

  52. I tried this and the eggs turned out great! The shape of it didn’t though. For some reason my eggs move away from the center creating a big hole. I’ve tried on a couple different types of plates and it just won’t work. Maybe it’s my mircowave? It’s a shame because I was looking forward to having egg wraps for my lunches.

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