In the Apicius Culinary School cook-off, one of the entries consisted of pan grilled chicken and rice wrapped in egg. I loved the presentation but I thought that the rice omelet didn’t really go well with the rest of the dish. When reader Nina commented that egg-wrapped rice is common in Brunei, I started searching for the culinary roots of rice omelet. Found in both Japanese and Korean cuisines (probably brought by Japan to Korea during the occupation in the early 1900s), omurice, or omelet rice, is a great way of making good use of small amounts of meat and vegetables that, individually, might not be enough to complete a whole dish. And because it has everything in it, omurice is a complete meal.
Japanese omurice is traditionally made with chicken fillets but since omurice is a product of fusion cooking (ergo, it is drizzled with ketchup), any meat or vegetables can be used and what seasonings to flavor the rice with depends on what taste you are aiming for. If you want Japanese-tasting omurice, use traditional Japanese seasonings like soy sauce, sake, mirin, dashi and wasabi. If you prefer Korean flavors, you may add chopped kimchi or a dash of chili paste. My version is as fusion as fusion can get — Chinese style fried rice wrapped in egg.
The trick to the successful execution of the omurice is to use short-grain rice (generally stickier than long grain) and to keep the egg wrapper really, really thin. The sticky rice will help keep the filling together; the thin egg wrapper is easier to fold and roll than a thick wrapper. How many eggs you will need or can use depends on the width of your frying pan. I used an eight-inch pan which could only accommodate one egg per omelet.
Omurice (omelet rice)
- Heat the cooking oil in a wok or frying pan.
- Add the sausage, ham, carrot and pepper. Stir fry for about two minutes.
- Add the rice. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Stir fry until the rice is heated through. Stir in the oyster sauce and sesame seed oil.
- Heat an omelet pan. Coat the bottom very lightly with cooking oil.
- Pour in a beaten egg. Swirl the pan to allow the egg to spread as thinly as possible.
- When the egg is slightly set along the edges but still wet at the center, place a couple of tablespoonfuls of the fried rice down the center.
- Fold one side of the egg over the filling. Repeat with the other side. Cook until the egg is done. I like my omelet to be lightly browned so I let the egg cook for about a minute.
- Flip the omelet over to make sure that the folded edges get cooked through as well.
- Slide the omelet onto a plate. Drizzle with ketchup. Sprinkle with greens (parsley or thinly sliced scallions are good choices), if you like.