Omurice (Omelette Rice) オムライス – ‘Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories’

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  • Sweet and savory tomato-based fried rice wrapped in a soft thin omelette, this western influenced Japanese dish Omurice or Omelette Rice is popular among Japanese people of all ages. Inspired by the Japanese drama – Midnight Diner.

    Omurice on the white plate.

    Fried rice flavored with the beloved American condiment ketchup and encased in a golden omelette pillow, Omurice (オムライス) or Omelette Rice may not be your typical choice when you visit your local Japanese restaurants. It’s easy to mistake the dish as a fairly recent fusion invention of modern Japanese cuisine.

    However, this humble dish has been a popular yoshoku (western-style Japanese food) for over a century. That’s right! It is a Japanese rendition of ‘mash up’ comfort food at its best. It’s got grain, vegetables, proteins and a big bright sunny disposition, enough to make a fried rice fiend wake up hungry.

    This delicious omurice was featured on the popular Japanese TV drama called “Shinya Shokudo (深夜食堂)” or “Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories” which is available on Netflix.

    Midnight Diner features dishes that are more representative of Japanese home cooked recipes that you might not have seen in your local Japanese restaurants.  “Omelette Rice” episode is Season 1, Episode 4 on Netflix.

    Watch How To Make Omurice / Omelette Rice

    Watch this video on YouTube

    Omurice on the white plate.

    Omurice and Yoshoku

    Omurice (オムライス) is a loanword from both Omelette (omuretsu, オムレツ) and Rice (raisu, ライス). In this recipe, fried rice is seasoned with sweet and sour flavor of ketchup and tomato puree, and tucked inside a thin blanket of golden fluffy omelette. It’s sweet and savory, the whole ensemble of omurice is just so comforting to many Japanese people that it is considered one of the most popular yoshoku (western-style Japanese food).

    Yoshoku started to appear around the Meiji Era (1868–1912) after Japan ended its isolationist foreign policy and opened the ports to the West. Tonkatsu, KorokkeHambagu, Curry Rice, Doria (rice gratin), Cabbage Roll, Spaghetti Napolitan and Omurice are just some of the familiar dishes in the category. They have katakana names to emphasize their foreignness, using the word “raisu” (ライス, rice) instead of “gohan” (ご飯, rice) for example. Another easy way to tell these dishes apart? They are often served with fork, knife, and spoons, instead of chopsticks.

    At the time, foreign ingredients were difficult to find in Japan so people made yoshoku using local ingredients.  Even though the dishes may look like western dishes, the taste is still distinctly Japanese. I think that has unintentionally made yoshoku dishes uniquely Japanese.

    You may have noticed the abundant use of ketchup in western style Japanese dishes. Brought in by the American army who came to Japan after World War II, ketchup was used in dishes to replace tomato sauce which was not easily accessible then. Since it is convenient and tasty, ketchup continues to become the mainstay in the Japanese kitchen pantry.

    Omurice on the white plate.

    Who Invented Omurice?

    There are 2 strong theories on omurice’s origin.

    Theory 1: When the owner at a yoshoku restaurant Hokkyokusei (北極星) in Osaka learned about a regular customer who wasn’t feeling well, he quickly cooked up a simple fried rice with mushrooms and onion seasoned with ketchup, and carefully wrapped with omelette to serve the customer so he would regain his stamina. The customer loved it so much that he asked for the menu name. The sharp-witted owner came up with the name “omurice”.  This omurice is much closer to what omurice is now.

    Theory 2: Simple fried rice with egg, onion, minced meat was served as a meal for workers at Renga-tei (煉瓦亭) in Tokyo.  Other customers were drawn by the vibrant egg fried rice that they started requesting for it, and that’s how omurice became an official restaurant menu.

    Whichever story you prefer, I think it all started with omurice’s ability of hitting the right spot, especially when you crave for comfort food.

    Omurice on the white plate.

    Omurice (Omelette Rice) – 2 Ways

    In general there are two ways to make Omurice.  The original one called Ganso Omurice (元祖オムライス) is to wrap the fried rice with a thin omelette, like the one I shared today.  Some people prefer light yellow omelette (no burn spot), but I personally prefer my omurice to have slightly golden color (which adds flavor) and the omelette is still creamy soft on the inside.

    The second style of omurice is called Fuwatoro Omurice (ふわとろオムライス).  First, you make ketchup fried rice and transfer to the plate.  Then you make the omelette, and while it’s fluffy (fuwa) and runny (toro), place it on top of the ketchup fried rice.  Before serving, you slice the center of omelette and runny egg yolk to cover the fried rice.  You might have seen this style of omurice in the movie Tanpopo.  Hence, it’s also called Tanpopo Omurice (タンポポオムライス).

    Which one is your favorite style?

    Omurice on the white plate.

    Variations of Omurice (Omelette Rice)

    Here is the list of omurice variations that I have seen or think of.  As you can see, the possibility is endless. Feel free to take the liberties to use whatever ingredients you have in the fridge and make your own version. Creativity is welcome when comes to making omurice!

    Fried Rice Ingredients

    • Ham
    • Chicken
    • Seafood
    • Onion
    • Carrot
    • Green peas
    • Mushrooms

    Fried Rice Flavor

    • Ketchup
    • Tomato sauce
    • Butter
    • Garlic
    • Salt & Pepper

    Sauce over Omurice

    • Tomato Ketchup
    • Tomato Sauce (sometimes with extra tomatoes, mushrooms, seafood or more ingredients)
    • White Sauce / Bechamel Sauce (sometimes with seafood)
    • Japanese Curry Sauce
    • Hayashi Sauce
    • Demi-glace sauce
    • Ankake (starchy thick sauce)

    Filling or Additions on top of Omurice

    • Cheese
    • Hambagu
    • Fried Fish
    • Korokke
    • Herbs

    Omurice on the white plate and eggs on the wooden table.

    The cooking method for omurice is really quite simple. It’s a perfect quick one-dish meal for busy moms, college students, and singles as you can whip it up in a short time.  Trust me, nothing beats a good fried rice with fluffy egg. I hope you enjoy making omurice at home!

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    4.72 from 7 votes
    Omurice オムライス (Omelette Rice - "Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories" | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com
    Omurice (Omelette Rice)
    Prep Time
    10 mins
    Cook Time
    20 mins
    Total Time
    30 mins
     
    Sweet and savory tomato-based fried rice wrapped in a soft thin omelette, this western influenced Japanese dish Omurice or Omelette Rice is popular among Japanese people of all ages. Inspired by the Japanese drama – Midnight Diner.
    Course: Main Course
    Cuisine: Japanese
    Keyword: egg creap, omelette
    Servings: 2
    Author: Nami
    Ingredients
    • ¼ onion (¼ = 60 g)
    • 4 mushrooms (4 mushrooms = 50 g)
    • 4 slices ham (4 slices = 2 thick slices = 80 g)
    • 1 Tbsp neutral flavor oil (vegetable, canola, etc)
    • 3 Tbsp green peas (3 Tbsp = 25 g) (defrosted and drained, if frozen)
    • Kosher salt
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 - 2 ½ cups cooked Japanese short grain rice (2 cups = 360 g)
    • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter (divided)
    Tomato Sauce
    • 3 Tbsp ketchup
    • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
    • 2 Tbsp water
    Egg Mixture
    • 4 large eggs (divided)
    • 2 Tbsp milk (divided)
    Instructions
    1. Gather all the ingredients.
      Omurice Midnight Diner Ingredients
    Make the sauce:
    1. To make tomato sauce, combine ketchup, tomato paste, and water in a small saucepan and mix all together. Set aside.

      Omurice Midnight Diner 1
    Make the fried rice:
    1. Clean the mushrooms with damp towel and slice them.
      Omurice Midnight Diner 2
    2. Slice the onion and dice into small pieces.
      Omurice Midnight Diner 3
    3. Cut the ham into small pieces.
      Omurice Midnight Diner 4
    4. In a 10-inch frying pan, heat 1 Tbsp vegetable oil and sauté onion.
      Omurice Midnight Diner 5
    5. Add green peas and mushrooms, and hams.
      Omurice Midnight Diner 6
    6. Season with pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
      Omurice Midnight Diner 7
    7. Add rice and break big chunks of rice into smaller pieces.

      Omurice Midnight Diner 8
    8. When combined well, add 3-4 Tbsp tomato sauce and mix well. Make sure to save some sauce for topping. Divide the fried rice in half.

      Omurice Midnight Diner 9
    Make the omelette & put it together (Makes 2 Omurice):
    1. Start with the first omurice. Crack 2 eggs in a small bowl and add 1 Tbsp milk and pinch of salt. Whisk all together.

      Omurice Midnight Diner 10
    2. Heat another frying pan over medium high heat and add 1 Tbsp butter. Swirl around and when it’s melted, add the beaten egg.
      Omurice Midnight Diner 11
    3. Quickly swirl around with chopsticks. When the mixture is set but still runny, add half of ketchup rice in the middle. If you feel the pan is getting too hot, remove the pan from the heat and put on top of the damp towel.
      Omurice Midnight Diner 12
    4. Wrap the ketchup rice both sides with egg omelette.  It doesn’t have to be perfectly wrapped, but make sure to create the “edge” around the fried rice with omelette.

      Omurice Midnight Diner 13
    5. Place the serving plate under the pan and flip the pan to transfer the omelette rice.
      Omurice Midnight Diner 14
    6. place a piece of paper towel and gently shape the omelettte into a football shape.  Repeat this process to make the second omurice.

      Omurice Midnight Diner 15
    7. When serving, garnish omurice with parsley and drizzle hot tomato sauce.

      Omurice Midnight Diner 16
    Recipe Notes

    Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.

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