Around the World in 26 Breakfasts: #1 – Japan

As a part of my goals for 2015, I want to be more active on my blog, and I also want to visit more than 2 countries. Of course I still need to physically get off my bum and visit two new countries, but I thought how about regular culinary vacations, right from the comfort of my own kitchen?

The idea is to “travel around the world in 26 breakfasts”, a bi-weekly excursion into the ways of a different country and its cultures by means of their breakfast tables. Naturally I will be sharing some dishes that you as the reader may already be familiar with, just like I am, but then I will also strive to delve into cultures and recipes I, and hopefully you, have never encountered before.

In this series, I wish to share the recipes with you, as well as my thoughts and feelings about these dishes. Whenever possible, I would like to include a little bit of history behind the dish, to take us on even more of a journey.

Also, if a particular dish might not present itself as very child friendly (due to certain ingredients or extra-messiness), I will strive to include a “child friendly alternative” at the bottom, an alternative of my own invention, so that the recipes may be tried at your family’s table as well.

With no further ado:

#1 – Japan:

Tamago kake gohan (Rice mixed with egg) 

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I first encountered this particular breakfast when I was first living in Japan as an exchange student. The dish consists of a raw egg and soy sauce mixture being poured over hot rice. The heat from the freshly cooked rice would lightly cook the egg as it gets mixed and it is a surprisingly easy and nourishing breakfast to make.

For this demonstration, I cooked only a small amount of rice in a pot, however, my host mother has a massive rice cooker. In this, she would have already cooked enough rice for breakfast and lunch, since our packed lunches all included rice, before we had even gotten up. This way, this breakfast was incredibly quick to make and offered a great blend of carbs, protein, fats and salt to get the day started.

I must admit that, in the beginning, I found the texture a little slimy and the thought of raw egg was a little off-putting, but it has become one of my favourites and whenever I miss Japan, I make myself a bowl of Tamago kake gohan. 😀

You will need:

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– a small saucepan (or rice cooker if you have one)

– an implement to cook and serve with (I went with a standard ladle like thing)

– two bowls (one larger, one smaller)

– a spoon

– a fork

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Ingredients:

– a bowl (or cup) of dry rice

– water (double the amount of the rice)

– one egg

– soy sauce (I swear by Kikkoman Soy Sauce, but I had none after moving and my local convenience store only had this one…)

Preparation:

– wash your rice if necessary

– add rice and water to a saucepan and cook the rice on a low heat until all the water has been absorbed and the rice is soft and fluffy (depending on your saucepan, you may need to add extra water as you go along since the rice might still have a tough/grainy texture, just try as you cook)

(If you are using a rice cooker, please follow your machine’s instructions.)

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Once your rice is soft and fluffy, it should look something like this:

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Serve the hot rice into the bigger of the two bowls and immediately start preparing your sauce. (You can also have the sauce prepared before the rice is ready, that’s up to you.)

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Prepare your sauce by cracking the egg into the smaller bowl, adding about a teaspoon of soy sauce (you can always add more to taste) and then mixing these together with a fork, as though you were making scrambled eggs.

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Your mixture should then look a little something like this:

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Now, pour your soy sauce egg mixture over your piping hot rice…

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… mix thoroughly and enjoy!

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Child friendly alternatives:

I have been told that children under the age of two shouldn’t be fed raw egg products and that soy sauce may be too salty for their under developed pallets, so perhaps this isn’t quite suitable for the littlest of connoisseurs.

If you are uncomfortable giving your older children raw egg as well, you could try turning the egg and soy sauce mixture into scrambled eggs (cooked in vegetable oil, since butter or olive oil would alter the flavour too much) and put the cooked egg on a bed of rice.

Another alternative might be to just give them rice with a little bit of soy sauce, and leaving the egg out all together, however at this point most of the nutritional value is lost and so maybe not a very great idea after all. haha

In Japan, the customary thing to say before any meal is:

いただきます。

Itadakimasu. (Pronounced: eeta – dackee – mass.)

It usually is translated as “Let’s eat”, but it is important to note, that it is considered impolite not to say this before your meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks), since it is also a way of thanking the cook (or your host) and the spirits for the food you are receiving. However, there is no real literal translation into English.

No matter which way you enjoy your very own tamago kake gohan, I hope you enjoy it and say: いただきます。

As always, thanks for reading and take care. xoxo

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2 thoughts on “Around the World in 26 Breakfasts: #1 – Japan

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