13.8.14

EAT: Tamagoyaki.

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卵焼き (tamagoyaki) - Japanese rolled omelette.
I made it vegan. I made an omelette vegan. Like, imagine me typing this covered in sweat with bits of tofu stuck to my t-shirt and turmeric-stained fingers (I’m… not. But imagine). When I ascend to my rightful place among the gods and they ask me what my greatest achievement was (for the sake of this story, we’re also gonna imagine that the god in this case is like, Zeus? I don’t know why exactly), I’m going to nod wisely and look down upon the world and say, ‘I made vegan tamagoyaki.’
And Zeus will probably be like, 'Woah man, you should’ve just used eggs.’
Which is what my mother said when I told her this news on the phone. I almost hung up. At that point I really was still sweaty and tofu-covered.
Shut up. This is like, on par with the time I made brownies out of avocado. Didn’t Jesus do that one time? I might be getting confused.
So! As ever, all the heavy lifting was done for me here by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, the queen of vegan cuisine. I came across a tofu omelette recipe on her blog and instantly wanted to know whether it could tolerate being flavoured with soy sauce, mirin and sugar and rolled up in a pan. It… attempted to, but although the taste was surprisingly authentic I wasn’t able to get nice rolled layers in the way I wanted; it pretty much just came out a gloopy cube. We had texture issues. I’m gonna make that the slogan of vegan cookery: we had texture issues.
At this point I was like 'oh, I should probably have googled whether someone else has already done this!’, because I am an idiot. And someone had already done it! CreatiVegan’s tamagoyaki looked much more authentic than my first couple of attempts, and given that it’s essentially a type of chickpea crepe it was SO much easier to roll and form. But… given that it’s essentially a chickpea crepe… it also tasted nothing at all like tamagoyaki. It kind of tasted of nothing. Not even delicious nothing. I mean… I shoulda seen that coming. 
Not a wasted endeavor though, because CreatiVegan’s recipe totally gave me the idea of using xanthan gum! Xanthan gum is like a binding agent that’s often used in gluten free baking to stop baked goods from being all crumbly and shit. The awesome part is that by adding just a teeny pinch to an adapted version of Isa Chandra’s omelette, it became something much more malleable and therefore able to roll and shape.
God, I have just written so many paragraphs about vegan recipe development. How did I become this person? Why am I so enthusiastic about xanthan gum? Stop me. I usually save this kind of passion for talking about Dragon Age.
This recipe is for a single roll at a time, because it is so quick to just food-process the ingredients together that it’s worth doing it in batches so that you have full control. You should probably double this recipe though so your quantities are more reasonable; I only have a very tiny food processor. Obviously I did a lot of experimenting while I was messing about with recipes and proportions, so I got quite a bit of practice in when it comes to making Japanese rolled omelette. I… wish I could give more solid advice on that front, but you’ve pretty much got to get the feel for that by yourself.
75g firm silken tofu
½ tsp garlic paste
½ Tbsp nutritional yeast
pinch turmeric
pinch black salt
1/8c. chickpea flour
1 tsp cornflour (cornstarch, Americans)
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp soy sauce
½ tsp mirin
pinch of xanthan gum
(1/4c. of water if necessary)

Puree all the ingredients together in a food processor until totally smooth. You may need to scrape down the sides with a spatula and give it another blast to make sure it’s all combined.
For the actual method of making tamagoyaki, I am gonna point you to Just One Cookbook’sbrilliant photo step by step guide here. I will say:
  • the vegan mixture will be significantly thicker than actual eggs, so rather than glamorously tilting your eggs to cover the bottom of your pan, you’re going to be spreading your yellow sludge in a vague rectangle shape, sorry man.
  • I added it to a pan one tablespoon at a time. You should try to get it as thin as possible, but even with xanthan gum it won’t behave like eggs. I literally used the back of a spoon to spread it.
  • Unlike eggs, again, I found that the best way of cooking this tamagoyaki consistently was on a slightly lower heat - it won’t go as crepe-like and thin as eggs, so I found that cooking each layer on a lower heat for a longer time worked better - otherwise the top side just won’t cook. For more definition, let it brown a bit.
  • It’s easier to roll with your fingers than with only chopsticks. (Somewhere in Nagasaki, Nakatomi-san just had a full body shiver, and she has no idea why. Sorry, Nakatomi-san. It’s just easier with your fingers!)
  • You don’t need a fancy rectangular pan. Use a regular one. Practice.
  • 頑張ってください!

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