Yōshoku—literally “Western food”—is a subset of Japanese cooking that originated at the turn of the 20th century. During the Meiji period, as Japan increased its global presence, Western ingredients and cooking techniques became fashionable, and yōshoku cuisine was was born. Omurice, one of the most popular yōshoku recipes, combines Japanese fried rice, French omelet-making technique, and American ketchup, gravy, or demi-glace.
Chef Takanori Akiyama of Bar Moga in New York serves a dressed up version of the homey classic. He cooks his rice in chicken stock and flavors it with onions, chicken, spicy homemade ketchup, demi-glace, and plenty of black pepper. His omelet is delicate and tender: a thin yellow skin, perfectly rolled around a belly of creamy curds.
Feel free to sub in leftover white rice and prepared demiglace, but seriously consider taking the time to make this extra-special ketchup. The recipe makes more than you need. Stored in the refrigerator, the spiced ketchup will keep for up to two weeks. It’s great with home fried potatoes and in cocktail sauce.
What You Will Need
For the spiced ketchup
- 4 1⁄2 lb. tomatoes, quartered and cored
- 2 tbsp. kosher salt
- 1 tbsp. plus 1/2 tsp. sugar
- 1 tbsp. plus 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1 tbsp. paprika
- 1 tbsp. onion powder
- 2 1⁄4 tsp. ground cloves
- 2 tsp. worcestershire sauce
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. Tabasco sauce
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. allspice
- 1 1⁄2 bay leaves
- 1 small cinnamon stick
- 1⁄4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. ketchup
- 1 tbsp. plus 1 1/2 tsp. white wine vinegar
For the rice and omelette
- 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1⁄2 cup onion, diced
- 1⁄4 cup skinless boneless chicken thigh, diced
- 1⁄2 tsp. ground black pepper
- 3⁄4 cup cooked short grain rice
- 1 tbsp. demi-glace (homemade or packaged), plus more for drizzling
- 2 tbsp. spiced ketchup, plus more for drizzling
- 3 eggs
- 1 tbsp. whole milk
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. heavy cream
- 1 tsp. Canola oil
- Set a medium mesh strainer over a large pot.
- In a blender, and working in 2 or 3 batches, process the tomatoes till smooth. Strain the tomato purée into the pot, discard any solids that remain in the strainer.
- Set the pot over medium-high heat and bring the tomato puree to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the puree is reduced by half, 40-50 minutes. Add the sugar, pepper, paprika, onion powder, cloves, worcestershire sauce, nutmeg, Tabasco, garlic powder, allspice, bay leaves, and cinnamon stick, and mix well. Continue cooking, stirring and scraping the bottom frequently with a wooden spoon, until reduced by half again, 30-40 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and cinnamon stick, add the ketchup and vinegar, and mix well. Serve immediately, or cool completely.
- Make the rice: In an 8-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter. When the butter is hot, add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally with chopsticks or a wooden spoon, until they are soft and translucent, 5-6 minutes. Add the chicken and pepper, stir to combine, and and continue cooking until the chicken is cooked through, 3-4 minutes. Add the demi-glace and ketchup and cook until the sauce is reduced slightly, 1-2 minutes. Add the rice and stir to incorporate and warm through. Remove the fried rice from the stove and cool slightly.
- Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, transfer the fried rice to a small, oval-shaped dish, pressing lightly to evenly pack into shape. Flip the dish onto a plate and remove the oval dish, leaving a tidy oval of fried rice on the plate. Keep the rice warm while you prepare the omelette.
- Wipe the skillet clean with a damp paper towel and set it back on the stove.
- Make the omelette: In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs to break them up a bit. Add the milk and cream and continue whisking until the mixture is smooth. Set a mesh strainer over a clean bowl, strain the eggs, and set aside.
- Set the skillet over high heat and add the oil. When the oil is shimmery and the pan is very hot, add the egg mixture and immediately use chopsticks to vigorously stir and scramble. When the egg is about 50% cooked (this happens quickly!), 30-45 seconds, evenly distribute the soft curds across the surface of the pan. Let the eggs cook, undisturbed, to set up slightly, 20-25 seconds. Use the chopsticks to loosen the perimeter of the omelette from the pan then, starting from the edge directly opposite the handle, fold the omelette up about 1 inch. Remove the pan from the stove and hold the handle securely with your dominant hand. Use your nondominant hand to briskly tap the top of your wrist to gently roll the omelette over itself and towards you. When the omelette is completely rolled, return the pan to the stove to cook for a few seconds, just to seal the seam. Remove from the heat.
- Roll the omelette out of the pan and onto the oval of rice. Serve immediately. At the table, use a thin, sharp knife to slice open the omelette; the thin skin of the omelette will unfold and the soft scrambled eggs within will pour out over the rice. Drizzle with additional demi-glace and ketchup if you like.