Tamago Kake Gohan (卵かけご飯), affectionately known as TKG, is the ultimate Japanese breakfast comfort food which translates to "egg on rice." There are dozens of variations that run from whipping the egg white into a meringue to curing the egg yolk in soy sauce, but what they all share in common is a fresh, high-quality egg mixed into piping hot rice.
In my version, I like to separate the egg, mixing the albumin into the piping hot rice to achieve a creamy, fluffy texture, and then add the yolk at the end to finish it off with a velvety touch of richness. Despite its humble beginnings as a nutritious breakfast for laborers, Tamago Kake Gohan has cemented its place in the hearts of Japanese people as a creamy, comforting bowl of happiness that will warm your heart and satisfy your soul.
Why This Recipe Works?
- Using hot, freshly cooked rice, partially cooks the egg, thickening it up enough to hold onto air bubbles that makes the rice creamy and fluffy.
- Egg yolks solidify at a lower temperature than egg whites. By separating them, you can partially cook the albumin while leaving the yolk nice and creamy.
- TKG is more of a textural experience than a taste thing, so it's important to use high-quality soy sauce as toppings you enjoy to season the rice.
- Rice - Japanese short-grain rice is the perfect rice for this dish. It has a higher percentage of amylopectin relative to amylose, which gives it a pleasantly chewy texture that works beautifully with the rich egg. It also has a subtle sweetness that complements the savory soy sauce well.
- Egg - A fresh, high-quality egg raised for eating raw is crucial for this recipe. Eggs in Japan are raised to be eaten raw, and the chickens are fed a diet high in beta-carotene (peppers and marigolds) to give the yolks a vibrant orange hue. There is always a risk when eating raw or undercooked foods, so research the safety of eggs where you live and decide whether it's worth the risk. If you are concerned with eating raw eggs, there are a couple of ways to get around this, so check out the section below on alternatives.
- Soy Sauce - Since eggs don't have much flavor, the primary seasoning for Tamago Kake Gohan is soy sauce. I recommend using a high-quality specialty soy sauce such as Marunaka or Heisei, which will not only season the egg and rice with salt but also contributes umami and flavor. You can also season this with good sea salt if you plan to add other flavorful ingredients, such as shaved truffles or caviar.
Alternatives to Raw Egg
If the eggs where you live are not safe to eat raw, there are two alternatives. The first is to use pasteurized eggs. These usually come in a jug or carton and have been heated enough to destroy pathogens without cooking the egg. Another alternative is to make Onsen Tamago (hot spring eggs). In either case, you won't be able to separate the egg, so you can use slightly less-hot rice to keep the egg from overcooking.
How to Make Tamago Kake Gohan
The first thing you need to do is cook some rice. The rice needs to be piping hot when you mix the egg in, so prepare your work area with the eggs, a small bowl, chopsticks, and soy sauce while you wait for the rice to cook.
When the rice is cooked, fluff it up and serve it in a deep rice bowl. Immediately break an egg over the rice, but use the shells to separate the yolk, and set it in your small bowl. Egg yolk denatures at a lower temperature than the egg whites, so I prefer setting it aside for later so the rice can cool down a bit before mixing it in.
Now, go ahead and mix the hot rice and egg white together. As you stir, the mixture starts to thicken slightly and get frothy. This is the moment to adjust the texture to your preference. If you find it too runny, you can add some more rice.
Finish off your Tamago Kake Gohan by making a little well in the center of the rice and adding the egg yolk. Serve the egg and rice with soy sauce which can be drizzled on, before stirring the yolk into the rice.
Serve it With
Tamago Kake Gohan is most commonly served for breakfast in Japan but can also be served as a final course in a restaurant meal. It's typically served with miso soup, along with various tsukemono (pickles) such as Asazuke or Wasabi Cucumber Pickles. You could also make a batch of my Shiojake (salted salmon) if you want additional protein. TKG is more about texture than flavor, so have fun with it by preparing various mix-ins for the rice, such as furikake, nori, toasted sesame seeds, or mentaiko.
It depends on the safety of the eggs where you live. The temperature reached as you mix the egg into the rice is not hot enough to destroy pathogens such as salmonella, so the eggs you use need to be produced in a manner that makes them safe to eat raw. In Japan, eggs are commonly eaten raw, so egg production is tightly regulated with regular testing to make them as safe as possible. That being said, there is always a risk involved with eating any raw food, so please consider your risk factors before making this.
If you aren't in Japan, you'll want to research the safety of your local eggs. I've also listed some alternatives to raw eggs in the section above.
Tamago Kake Gohan is a 7-syllable name pronounced as follows (read the italicized parts).
ta like tonic
ma like mall
go like ghost
ka like copy
ke like kept
go like ghost
han like honk
- 1 serving cooked Japanese short-grain rice
- 1 egg
- soy sauce (to taste)
- Add 1 serving cooked Japanese short-grain rice that's piping hot to a deep rice bowl.
- Break an 1 egg over the rice and separate the yolk to add later.
- Mix the hot rice and egg white together until it starts to thicken slightly. You can add more rice if it's too runny for your tastes.
- Top the Tamago Kake Gohan with the egg yolk and serve with good soy sauce for drizzling.
- Mix the yolk and soy sauce into the rice before eating.