Tamago kake gohan (卵かけご飯) (“egg over rice”) is a popular Japanese breakfast dish, which consists of hot steamed Japanese rice, topped with raw egg, and toppings. Ten years ago I doubt that the thought of eating a raw egg would have sounded the least bit appetizing. (Although I’ve never been one to turn down a spoonful of cookie dough, which definitely includes the aforementioned raw egg.) But then Japan “happened” to me. As I’m sure is doubtlessly evident through this blog, Japan has been a defining influence in my life. My experiences there have worked their way into the nooks and crannies of my life and slowly changed me into a different person. Tamago kake gohan represents one of the more literal changes. I now consider raw egg to be incredibly appetizing. (Did I really just write that?) I think my first encounter in Japan with a raw egg was eating sukiyaki for the first time. Sukiyaki is a type of Japanese hot pot that is cooked table-side in an iron pot. It consists of thinly sliced meat simmered with a variety of vegetables and other ingredients in a broth. The traditional way to eat sukiyaki is to grab items out of the pot and dip them in a bowl of raw, beaten egg and then eating them. I will always try something once, and so I watched my Japanese friend’s technique and followed suit. I was surprised to find that it was delicious.
Then I was introduced to tamago kake gohan (sometimes called TKG for short). I cannot explain how ridiculously comforting this dish is. I like to make a little well in my bowl of hot rice in which to crack my egg into. I drizzle a tiny bit of soy sauce mixed with dashi (Japanese sea stock) over my egg, then use my chopsticks to break the egg yolk and mix the egg into the rice. The hot steamy rice changes the raw egg into a sort of velvety yellow sauce. The egg isn’t quite cooked, but it isn’t completely raw either. The soy sauce dashi mixture add a bit of salty seasoning to the rice, making the flavor of the egg really pop.
There is no correct way of making tamago kake gohan (which is why I’m just writing about it, rather than sharing a true recipe). Some people beat the egg first, then pour it over their rice. Some people only use the yolk. Toppings can include whatever you feel like adding. Scallions, nori, furikake, bacon . . . all are delicious! This dish is so popular in Japan that is sometimes called TKG for short. Ajinomoto has made a short movie about making tamago kake gohan, and there is even a book which shares 365 days of making different versions of tamago kake gohan.
* A note about food safety: In Japan, each egg is stamped with the date on which it was laid, so you always know exactly how old your eggs are. Raw egg is never something people are afraid of in Japan. Here in the States though, raw egg is a different story, and although I admit to not worrying about it a whole lot for myself, I do worry about my children. So for them, tamago kake gohan isn’t a frequent breakfast option. Then at Camp Blogaway this past summer I was introduced to Safest Choice eggs. These eggs are pasteurized, which eliminates the risk of salmonella. Perfect for tamago kake gohan!!