We had such a wonderful time grazing through Nishiki Market each day during our stay in Kyoto. I would love to set up a little office right in the middle of the action and roll out whenever I got hungry…which is often. There are such amazing things to see and eat, I am not sure you could grow tired of it, particularly since a lot of the food is seasonal.
One item that is available year-round and thank goodness, as it is one of my favorite foods, is eggs, or more specifically tamago or tamagoyaki. This delightful little dish is very simply, an omelet, but it takes years to master it. (Just check out the movie Jiro Dreams of Sushi and you'll understand a bit more.)
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There is something special about the eggs in Kyoto and I loved reading the detailed description of the origins of the beautiful color and taste of the eggs in this region on the Kyoto Guide website, it is fascinating to me…feeding chickens seaweed, crazy interesting!
There are several stalls that make tamago which is eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It really looks simple, but it does take a special technique. Daniel, our Context Travel docent who toured the market with us at the beginning of our trip said that it has taken him years to try to master it!
In the market, the tamago is made with dashi (all the rage these days on the Food Network!). It is the secret ingredient that gives the omelet that umami distinction. Sometimes it is made with sake or rice vinegar with a small amount of sugar. I have tried all the varieties and I say, YUM.
Many vendors also have the tamago-on-a-stick ready to go with other items they sell, most of the time coupled with unagi.
In my post on the amazing vegetables in the market, I mentioned having an all-vegetable meal outside of Kyoto, the meal included a tasty portion of tamago as well, in fact, I wanted more! It is an important part of the culinary culture.
Having had such fantastic tamago in both Tokyo and Kyoto it is really hard for the tamago I eat in other parts of the world to match up, but I will keep trying them anyway. I know there has to be a hidden gem in San Francisco and I am going to hunt around when I go to Hawaii in March as well.
How about you? Are you a fan of tamago? Have you ever made it?
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Author Bio: Andi Fisher
Yes, I am a francophile, but after that, I love Japan, especially the food! I have been to Tokyo many times, and spent 2 weeks in Kyoto and a week in Osaka exploring and eating!