Why My Japanese-Style Scrambled Eggs Are the Softest & Dreamiest

(And the creamiest, too.)

July 17, 2018
Everything I've ever loved, in one bowl. Photo by Ty Mecham

Whenever I go out for sushi, I always order one tamago nigiri, that omelet with the rice underneath, wrapped around the middle with nori like a Band-Aid. You know the one? For me, it's the perfect end to a sushi dinner—a little sweet, very comforting.

I used to fantasize about ordering an entire meal of them. Because, for some reason—maybe because I became an adult one day—I restrict myself to just one. If I'm lucky, maybe there's two in an order, then I'll have two. Anyway, there's salmon to be had, ikura, and yellowtail. You're there for fish, why load up on eggs?

But these are just amorphous rules.

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One day I came home from work, starving, to an empty fridge (a typical scene in my house). Save for a few eggs, rice which I always have stocked, and a couple packs of roasted seaweed snack, my pantry was a desert, and I needed dinner fast. So I set out to make this rice bowl that I do a lot: fried eggs, sesame oil, and soy sauce, stirred into hot, fluffy, just-steamed white rice and hand-crushed nori, maybe some capers if I'm feeling it.

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Top Comment:
“i am about to go do a spin on your soft scrambled tamago. i have quinois in the refridge, i have sea weed rice seasoing and everything else you call for. so here goes. this will be only for one as my honey is fast asleep. thank you.. cant wait to make the other recipes.”
— mrs. G.

Convenience aside, I think the reason I eat this so much is because my mom used to make it for us all the time. It's really simple but nourishing: protein and carbohydrate wrapped up in a neat, salty bow.

As I set out to make this eggy rice, I thought, "What if I added a little sugar?" My brother did that to his eggs growing up. So I added a little sugar, scrambled the slightly sweetened eggs, took a bite, and was so happy to have accidentally created the flavor profile of those tamago nigiri I'm obsessed with. It was one of those ah-ha! moments that made me feel silly for not having done this my whole life.

Of course, I went back and tweaked the recipe, found that sweet spot between soft, sweet tamago and my mom's savory eggy rice (which doesn't have sugar, and has fried eggs), and present to you now with a Franken-version. My tamagoyaki–inspired scrambled eggs are, as ever, the clumsy home cook's take on those French soft-scrambled eggs where you have to start from a cold pan with cubes of butter and stir, low and slow, risotto-style (which takes forever).

When I'm making these eggs, I want that soft-set texture—and I want it yesterday. So I live on the edge and, starting from a cold pan, crank the heat up to medium-low (dangerous!), add the sesame oil, then the egg mixture, and cook, stirring very unoccasionally (I like large curds), but only for a couple minutes (they'll carryover cook off the heat). Or you could borrow a trick from Kristen Miglore's Genius scrambled eggs.

There's really no fancy chef's trick to my creamy, dreamy eggs other than a ravenous hunger for them—and, frankly, undercooking them.

Do you like your eggs soft, medium, or hard? Let us know in the comments below.

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Eric Kim was the Table for One columnist at Food52. He is currently working on his first cookbook, KOREAN AMERICAN, to be published by Clarkson Potter in 2022. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, but his hero is Nigella Lawson. You can find his bylines at The New York Times, where he works now as a writer. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @ericjoonho.


Margaret K. September 22, 2019
Couple of questions...
1) Is the sesame oil plain or toasted?
2) 'Unoccasionally' is an awkward word. When you say to stir 'unoccasionally', does that mean continuously, or do you mean something different?
3) I've never known eggs to carryover cook. In my experience, they always stop cooking the instant I remove them from the stove. If that weren't the case, how could Ramsay's on-off method work?
mrs. G. September 6, 2019
i came across your recipes today. i read them all. they sound so delicious. but there are two of us and i think i will make them for two. i am about to go do a spin on your soft scrambled tamago. i have quinois in the refridge, i have sea weed rice seasoing and everything else you call for. so here goes. this will be only for one as my honey is fast asleep. thank you.. cant wait to make the other recipes.
Darcey A. September 29, 2018
This sounds so delicious!!
Allison August 20, 2018
My favorite breakfast when I was a kid was sweet eggs and rice. My mother is Japanese. The trick is to serve it with a little bit of crispy bacon and to lightly fry the eggs in the bacon fat. It adds the perfect amount of salt to each creamy bite. I also think a light soy sauce is key.
James A. July 23, 2018
Easy soft scrambled eggs or omelet – just hydrate with a bit of water and stir well before pouring into hot pan with brown butter. Omelet filling is anything you can imagine
Eric K. July 24, 2018
Great idea. Mm love brown butter.
Aelione July 20, 2018
Hard for me to decide which I like better—the writing or the recipe... it’s amazing what eggs can accomplish!
Eric K. July 24, 2018
Eggs are life. Thanks for reading, Aelione.
kwatanabe July 19, 2018
Now I'm craving the shoyu scrambled eggs my dad used to make me as a kid. It used to be the only way I'd eat scrambled eggs.
Eric K. July 19, 2018
Do you have the recipe?
Naeku July 18, 2018
Meanwhile I just make rice, put it fresh and piping hot into a bowl and make a well in it. Then immediately crack a raw egg into it, stir it up and eat lol.
Eric K. July 18, 2018
My dad does that!
Emilye July 29, 2018
My father used to make that for us, too, when we were kids! The rice had to be just cooked and he would add the egg and shoyu and quickly mix everything. Good memories.
Monique July 18, 2018
OMG I can't wait to make this!
Eric K. July 18, 2018
Let me know how it goes!
Alison July 18, 2018
how about a more well-cooked version? I am sorry to admit, given the article, that I prefer my scrambled eggs less soft. Is it basically the same but cooked longer? you mention your mother's version, so I was wondering if there was any other difference. thanks!
Zee July 18, 2018
So cook it longer.
Eric K. July 18, 2018
Oh, totally. Feel free to follow my recipe exactly as is, just cook a little longer to your liking. The flavor profile will still very much be there.

My mom's version was a simple fried egg (also delicious).
Hana A. July 18, 2018
Tamago nigiri meets French omelette? I can't wait to try this as an omurice. Thanks for sharing, Eric!
Eric K. July 18, 2018
Tamago omurice is a fantastic idea.
CameronM5 July 18, 2018
Eric K. July 18, 2018
Thanks Cameron!
juwu_eats July 18, 2018
for a more tamagoniguiri flavour, add mirin to the eggs.
I prep my eggs for homemade sushi with mirin, sugar and salt. cut them when cold, I could just have a whole load of them, but I have to save for the futomakis im about to make.
(my sis ask them to replace all fish niguiris in her order for tamago ones)
Eric K. July 18, 2018
Mirin is a GREAT tip! Dashi, too.
Jaime C. July 17, 2018
Dang Eric you somehow seem to make every dish so refined, elegant, and probably the tastiest version of it! I on the other hand would probably make a dish taste like a cave man made it. Bravo!
Eric K. July 17, 2018
Thank you, Jaime! I’d consider this clumsy cave man food, personally...but agreed, the food styling is lovely, all thanks to the talented creative team here.
Emma L. July 17, 2018
I love ending a sushi din with tamago nigiri, too!
Eric K. July 17, 2018
You see me.
Steve July 17, 2018
Try making an Omurice
Eric K. July 17, 2018
Oh man, Steve, I love me a good omurice, especially the undercooked kind that pops and oozes over ketchupy rice...
HalfPint July 17, 2018
Depends on my mood. I love eggs in general :)
Eric K. July 17, 2018
Me too :) I go through 12+ a week!