I think a lot of people have this impression that making Japanese food is complicated. While it’s easy to see how something unfamiliar could seem unattainably difficult, in this case it’s a myth that just isn’t true.
Traditional Japanese cuisine evolved alongside a Zen buddhist philosophy of ascetic minimalism and so while the preparations may have been intricate, the ingredients tended to be very spare. Today, Japanese households are just as busy as those in the US and Europe, and so a unique style of cooking called katei ryouri has evolved. Katei Ryouri builds on Japan’s culinary legacy of austerity paired with a modern pantry and emphasis on quick preparation.
Niratama (ニラ玉), which literally means “garlic chive eggs”, is a great example of old school simplicity meeting the modern needs for a quick meal. As its name implies niratama is simply a saute of garlic chives bound together with fluffy curds of scrambled eggs, seasoned with a little soy sauce and sugar. Because there’s only a handful of ingredients, niratama comes together in about five minutes, and yet the aromatic chives, creamy eggs, and mild seasoning make for a delightfully balanced dish that doesn’t taste rushed.
Serve it with buttered toast or on a bed of hot rice and you have yourself a quick weekday breakfast. Best of all, with garlic chives that are loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber; and eggs, which are a good source of protein, niratama is a nutrient dense meal that will keep your wheels turning until lunch.
- Thoroughly wash the garlic chives in a bowl of water as they tend to hold a lot of grit towards the stems. Chop them into 1" (3 centimeter) lengths.
- Beat the eggs, sugar, soy sauce and salt together in a small bowl until uniform in color.
- Heat a nonstick frying pan, over medium-high heat, until hot. Add the oil and then the garlic chives, sautéing until they're bright green and wilted.
- Pour the eggs into the pan and turn down the heat. Let this cook until you see the bottom of the egg go from translucent to opaque.
- Give it a gentle stir, scraping the cooked egg up off the bottom of the pan, with a spatula and allowing the raw egg to run underneath. Let this cook until the bottom layer turns opaque and stir again.
- Repeat step 5 until the egg has reached your desired doneness. Keep in mind that the egg will continue to cook a little after you take it off the heat, so you want to aim for the niratama to to be just a bit less cooked than you want it.