"A person cooking is a person giving: Even the simplest food is a gift."

Laurie Colwin

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Recycling Fridays: Omurice

I started Recycling Fridays more for me than anyone else, because while in a commercial kitchen I have used every scrap of food that may otherwise have been thrown away, from leftover eggwash (make into an omelette and put into a sushi roll) to stale bread (bread pudding), I tend to have my moments of terrible wastefulness at home.  It’s a combination of busy-ness and fluctuating numbers of people in the house.  (Matter of fact, after my two older children moved out and I was just cooking for two for the first time in twenty years, I overcatered for the first six months or so.  Even though I know how to correctly estimate how much people will eat, the psychology of cooking for your own family is something else again and my hands would insist on throwing in more handfuls.)

But another combination of two things has given me a new resolution halfway through the year.  The first was the discovery of the Love Food Hate Waste site, which, along with its handy advice, has some scary stats that will make you think, such as the fact that 8.3 million tons of food are thrown away every year in the UK alone.  The second is a project I am planning for my students.  The project begins with the photo essay, What the World Eats, continues with an activity on eating like most of the world eats (try spending 90 cents on each meal), and finishes on Oxfam’s can-do advice with its 4-a-Week campaign.  It’s stuff anyone can do:  buy one more Fair Trade product a week, buy one food product from a developing country a week, go veggie once a week, and throw one less thing away.  Easy.

So we’re back to Fridays and recycling what’s left in the ‘fridge.  And again, it’s rice.  Well - not exactly.  It’s something rather more exotic:  a beautifully spiced poha, with potatoes and chickpeas (more on this next post).  I didn’t want to mess around with it too much because it’s delicious as is, so I decided to serve it up as omurice for brunch for me and my son.

Omurice is an Anglicised compound Japanese noun for a dish of eggs and rice.  To paraphrase the monorail episode of the Simpsons, “Omu means omelette, and rice means rice!”  At its most basic, you fry up some cooked rice and season it with ketchup.  Yes, ketchup.  Then you make a very gooey omelette, roll it, sit it on top, split it to allow the runny egg to flow over the rice, and top with a little more ketchup.  Yes, more ketchup.  And it is absolutely delicious, whether you have leftover plain rice, or something more tarted up.  More elaborate versions of omurice feature a drier omelette wrapped around a rice filling that can include chicken and other yummy things, but I really love how the rice combines with the runny egg, and the ritual of splitting the omelette open.  It’s marvellous. 

Now... I’m not going to give you detailed instructions nor provide a recipe, just because it’s so much fun watching people - samurai cooks who can handle a frying pan like a sword - make omurice on film.  In fact, the first time I ever saw omurice being made was the omurice scene from Tampopo, a Japanese film that is pretty much just a series of vignettes on food and sex.  Omurice is a popular dish in restaurants as well as at home, so you’ll often have chefs cooking omurice at restaurant windows to show off their skill and entice people in.  At home, your doggy sous-chef can help make a wrapped omurice that is wrapped around something that is suspiciously like arroz con pollo.

Here is the poha.  See the mustard seeds?  Yumbo McGillicutty!  When you fry your rice, don't crowd the pan, and keep the heat high, otherwise your rice will go mushy.  Besides - this is supposed to be a fast dish.  You want to spend five minutes on the entire thing, tops.

Add a little tomato ketchup, just to season.  Toss over high heat to coat.   Pile onto a warmed plate in a kind of oblong mound.  Your omu will only take a minute or two to cook, so the rice will stay plenty hot.

Sit your omu - hopefully yours won't look as mutant as mine - on top of the rice.  This is a three-egg omelette.
Split the omu with a sharp knife and open it up so that the egg flows over the rice.  Top with the sauce of your choice, although ketchup is traditional.  And I don't know how or why ketchup is traditional, but it is.


No comments:

Post a Comment

So! Whaddya reckon?