Zen and Omelets...

While catching up on my blog reading, I came across a posting on Passing Fancy's (formerly Speeding Motorcycle) Cooking Blog regarding omelet making (since his blog has closed, I've gotten the entry from him and posted it below). This inspired me to try my own hand at omelet making--even though I lack a solid "omelet pan." While Speedy makes the point that zen in omelet making isn't to be rushed, i was rather pleased after my first dozen attempts. I will admit that Ginger enjoyed 6 or 7 casualties that were lost in the early stages of MY quest for egg-cellence.

While we're on the topic of cooking...
enjoy this recipe for Electro Funk Daddy Superstar.

From Speedy's blog:
The video is by the P5, aka The Pizzicato Five, a Japanese pop group headed by Japanese super model Yasuharu Konishi. Today's subject is the omelette, and there really is a reason I'm feeling Japanese today, but I'll get to that in a bit.

The omelette is the perfect solution for any victim of the Great Depression 2.0 (me included!) with little time to cook and a need for an instant power punch of protein, fat, and vitamins, and a hankering for gourmet dishes. The lowly egg costs around 10 cents these days -- for around 50 cents you can have a meal just about anybody in their right mind would be jealous of and walk around with a full, happy belly to boot. My personal favorite has a dab of goat cheese, red onion, lots of freshly-cracked pepper, and maybe a fresh herb or two tossed in. Suffice to say, I've eaten a lot of omelettes in the last 16 years.

The thing about an omelette is that, as simple as it is, the classic French omelette is a pretty damn difficult thing to master and most people are terrified of the prospect. While anybody can make a Denver omelette, where you pretty much just toss the eggs in, stir a few times, and add some peppers and tomatoes and dump out onto a plate, making that perfect, soft, moist but firm French-style omelette takes skill and a lot of practice. But it IS possible, and more than worth the effort.

First off, you need an omelette pan. For less than $20, you can get a good, non-stick, classic omelette pan -- I buy one about every 2 years because they will eventually wear out. You also will need:

3-4 eggs
chopsticks (seriously, it's true, and it's great entertainment as well if you get fancy pink ones from the local asian market.)

This of course does not count the fillings, but that's up to your own taste. I'll recommend some at the end of this blog in case you want some new ideas.

Making omelettes for more than one is best -- you crack all the eggs needed into a large bowl, whisk, add a pinch of salt and pepper, and then you use a ladle that approximately scoops up about 3 eggs worth each time. Assemly-line omelette making is fun and a good way to entertain friends, especially if it's Sunday morning and they're waking up groggy and hungover and want a distraction.

1. Heat and oil
Heat your pan for AT LEAST 2-3 minutes on high, depending on your burner/gas flame. You want the pan so hot that it barely smokes when you pour in the oil (about, you know, a tablespoon or so, enough to lightly coat the pan).

2. Pour eggs into the pan.
Immediately begin to stir rapidly with said chopsticks. Making an omelette is a two-handed, highly-skilled enterprise -- breathe, focus, and watch your eggs. You should be lifting the pan slightly, directing the runny eggs to the blank spots in the pan. This part only takes one minute, if that. 30 seconds is more like it.

3. Push the egg bits into one corner of the pan, approximately one-third to one-half of the pan should hold your omelette. Allow to sit for another 10, 20 seconds. Flip (practice, over and over again, and you'll be a pro soon enough.) After flipping, allow omelette to rest in the pan for another 10 or 20 seconds at most, then hold your omelette over your plate and let it cascade down like butter.
Now, on to fillings, but first, a song. (song deleted)
There are two good ways to add a filling to your French omelette. The easiest way is this -- after you have done your first 30 seconds or so of stirring and it begins to settle and fill the entire pan, add your filling in a line down the middle, then fold the omelette over. That's one way, and it certainly works. The other way is a little trickier but a lot more fun for your friends to watch, and looks pretty cool as well. You make the omelette as described above, although you would definitely lean toward the 10 seconds instead of the 20 in the last 2 steps. Once the omelette is on the plate, take a small paring knife and carefully cut a slit down the length of the omelette. Take your fingers and carefully open the slit, almost like you would a vagina if you're into that (gross, thank you, but no thanks.) You have to open it carefully because you don't want to split the omelette, and you don't want to go more than halfway down. In this slit, you put your ingredients, et voila. A very beautiful, truly French, classic omelette.
Ok, so the reasons I've paired Japanese pop with omelette making are legion, but the original reason is this, that I learned to make the perfect omelette from my favorite movie of all time, Tampopo, the first and only movie to ever be called a "noodle western." I had to buy it on ebay from Australia to get a DVD version with English subtitles, but it was worth it. And near the end of the film, they make an omelette, with chopsticks, and seriously. I'm not kidding -- that's how I learned. I've watched chefs make omelettes in person, I've watched countless cooking shows, but the way they make an omelette in Tampopo and, it turns out, in Japan in general, is pretty much the easiest, simplest, best way to make a classic French omelette. Tampopo also happens to be the penultimate "foodie" flick. My best girlfriend says it's the weirdest movie she's ever seen and classifies me as not just eccentric but beyond, but I'm telling you, it's a great flick. I once wrote a review of it, just for fun; it's simply that good.

Anyway, so if you tool around YouTube looking for a good video that shows you how to make an omelette, you'll find Brits in their underwear, chefs in chef coats, a crazy-looking over-eager housewife in a Kraft-sponsored spot, but the only videos that will truly show you just the bare essentials are, of course, in Japanese.

Here ya go -- my favorite:

Now, I have one last YouTube spot.
This is the spot from Tampopo where they make "omurice" aka Rice Omelette, where it finally clicked for me how you make a proper omelette. This is a curry-ketchup rice omelette, so I think the other video is better for showing the bare essentials. But if you haven't tried a curry-ketchup rice omelette before, oh my god, they're to die for. I swear. Oh, and yeah, I promised some other rice filling suggestions. Here are some I like:

-Fresh cilantro, whole garlic cloves, tomato, pepperjack cheese
-Goat cheese, red onion, and maybe basil, or, even better, a couple leaves of mint
-Cream cheese, with a dash of soy sauce (great for kids, btw)
-Spinach, green chilies, and salsa verde (a "green" omelette aka the "Al Gore")
-Avocado and PRETTY MUCH ANYTHING ELSE -- you put avocado in an omelette, and it WILL be good

Ok, here's the Tampopo spot. Guten apetit folks! :) The trick to making a good omelette is practice, practice, practice. I would suggest making one at least once a week, for at least a year. After that, it's like riding a bicycle . . .

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

THAT was awesome beat boxing...and you made TWELVE omelets...are you serious? Yeah, you did have cabin fever! You neglected to mention that you broke out at one moment to enjoy fabulous drinks and company at my place...for shame! :)