Japanese food is renowned internationally for its freshness, high quality, health benefits and general deliciousness. It is fairly easy to recognize a Japanese dish and distinguish it from other Asian dishes.
In Japanese language the term washoku refers to traditional Japanese food and yoshoku is used to describe food from the West. For the most it is very straightforward to separate the two; pizza is yoshoku and sushi is washoku, but sometimes it’s a little grey, ramen for example hails from China, so which bracket does this food fall under?
Omurice is considered by most Japanese as yoshoku and is available at most Western style family restaurants, placed next to hamburgers on the menu, but Omurice is disputably washoku. It is a Western influenced dish that was created in Japan in the 1900’s. Arguably it could fall under both washoku and yoshoku, but as it was created in Japan, I’m going with washoku.
Compared with other washoku dishes, omurice is modern cuisine, the origins are a bit shady, but it seems that an experimental chef in Ginza came up with the recipe, it’s not rocket science but the basic elements and bounding together of egg and rice make for an unassuming but superbly satisfying combination.
The widespread popularity of the dish has reached neighboring countries Taiwan and South Korea where you can find the dish in local haunts. The name has also filtered into Hangol, 오무라이스 pronounced omeuraisu, and follows the same recipe and method as the Japanese version, with the only variation being the optional addition of kimchi.
Omurice isn’t the most ascetically pleasing dish however I was pleasantly surprised the first time I tried it- like all foodie things in Japan, the preparation, formulation of ingredients and execution rarely displease the epicure.
The fundamental ingredients for omurice are; rice, chicken thigh meat, eggs, onion, ketchup, Japanese style Worcestershire sauce, garlic, olive oil, powdered basil, salt and pepper. But if you want to add a bit of oomph to your omurice, you can use; milk, cream, mayonnaise, sausage, butter or cabbage. And if those ingredients aren’t enough of oomph for you, or you’re looking to impress, particularly with the execution then you can play around with ‘kawaii designs’ and decorate your omurice in a similar way to how bentos are. The addition of ketchup enables you to scribble whatever you fancy over the plain yellow surface.
In maid cafes, omurice is a staple dish on the menu, the maids personalize the ketchup designs to your liking, the name of this technique is not surprisingly ‘ketchup art’. As well as writing names on the surface, cute characters are a popular request of the diners whom allow the maid to show off her ketchup art skills.
Omurice isn’t a technically challenging dish and takes around 20 minutes to make, so have a go and making it yourself, it may not look as neat as the ones in restaurants, but as long as it tastes good, that’s all that matters.
Contributed by GaijinPot in collaboration with Ooedo Living