Tamago Kake Gohan

Tamago Kake Gohan | Big Girls Small Kitchen

When a new food-obsessed friend told me she sometimes stirred a whole egg into a bowl of steaming short-grain rice, I wrote down, “try this.” I imagined the taste of the egg piece in fried rice or something that tasted like tamago sushi–the seasoned rectangle of rice topped with a lightly sweetened omelet–only fashioned perfectly for serving one hungry and tired person.

Instead, the next day when I made a pot of rice and put a raw egg in it, I sat down to a slightly soupy bowl of grain, very plain, the taste raw eggy, mostly just very plain. I poured on plenty of soy sauce then  googled to see where I had gone wrong.

What I learned, instead, is that tamago kake gohan is huge in Japan right now and has been for about a decade. It’s the original Japanese fast food, writes Harumi Kurihara admiringly in her cookbook. TKG is originally a breakfast food whose name just means raw egg on rice. There are restaurants devoted to this rice with eggs, a particular type of soy sauce you’re supposed to season with, and even a well-attended symposium (learn lots more about the trend at Tofugu). After reading for an hour, the power of suggestion induced me to try TKG again. Despite fail #1, the description still sounded so good and so useful, especially for nights when there’s nothing in the house to eat.

And how could a nation that brought us sushi, tempura, soba, ramen, and okonomiyaki be obsessed with a bad bowl of rice and egg?

Back in the kitchen, I remedied the raw egg flavor using a technique picked up from this salad dressing: You pour hot water over a whole egg, leave it for about a minute, then crack the egg. The process coddles the egg but doesn’t cook it, so you should still use a top-quality egg you feel comfortable eating raw. But it does remove that unfriendly metallic taste. There are other methods, like placing an egg on top of the bowl to steam the egg or mixing the white with the rice first, then placing the raw yolk on top. When you scoop rice fresh from a rice cooker, it may have more residual heat than if you’ve cooked it on the stove, as I did. If you get into tamago kake gohan, you’ll probably experiment.

Whatever you do, the next step is to whip the egg with hot rice until you have a bowl of fluffy, pale yellow rice enriched with enough protein to make it a meal. Next, pour a generous glug of soy sauce, and then garnish with sesame seeds at a minimum, or piles of creamy avocado and crunchy celery, or more authentic toppings like dried fish flakes, pickles, dried baby anchovies, and clams. I highly recommend a final flourish of toasted nori, cut into slivers.

Even with the toppings, TKG is plain, for sure. But a lot of good meals are plain. In fact, I’ve heard it theorized that comfort foods are our favorites precisely because they’re bland. Still–a warning: if you love over-the-top sweet, sour, spice, in every meal, maybe skip this one. But if you’ve been known to douse leftover take-out rice with soy sauce and nothing else, you’ll be delighted to find that you can now call that dish a balanced dinner.


Tamago Kake Gohan
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
As mentioned, you shouldn't consider this egg cooked, even though the super raw taste is gone, so use the freshest/best-quality ones you can find, and don't make this if you're worried about raw eggs.
  • ¾ cup short- or medium-grain white rice
  • 1 egg
  • Soy sauce
  • ¼ avocado, cubed (optional)
  • 1 stalk celery, thinly sliced (optional)
  • Sesame seeds and/or Furikake or Togarashi
  • ½ sheet nori, toasted (I do this under a broiler) and cut into ribbons
  1. Cook the rice according to package directions. When the rice is done, put the egg in a mug or small bowl and pour boiling water over it. Leave for 60 seconds, then pour out the water and run the egg under cold water. Place the rice in a bowl. Make a well in the middle of the rice, and crack the egg into the well. Toss with forks or chopsticks. Season with soy sauce (leave it on the table to add more as you go), and top with the suggested garnishes or any others that you like.


Posted in: Single Serving
  • bfg67

    i love the sound of this. I like making egg fried rice a lot and this is an in bowl version. I have my own chickens and a rice cooker so will be trying it with the raw egg method

  • Hanson Hsu

    It is most certainly not a “bad bowl of egg and rice.” The problem is you’re using too much rice. I make mine with a small dab of pork fat infused sun dried shallots, two egg yolks, and Japanese soy sauce. I use the saved whites for soup or an omelette later on. You can swirl the whites into your breakfast miso soup, and you can pour tea into the bowl and scrape the egg residue after your meal as a refreshing chaser.

    I only use probably 1.5 cups of cooked rice. It’s a wonderfully flavorful and comforting dish. Been eating this since as far back as I can remember, and my grandma ate it the same way in her childhood.

    We make our own dried shallots and pork fat for this. You can omit the fat or use a small quantity of bacon grease. A good soy sauce is essential, though. I personally dislike adding whites into my TKG.

    • http://www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com/ Cara

      Certainly not! As I discovered. Thank you so much for these tips though – I’m definitely going to incorporate them next time I make it. I love the sound of pork fat, especially. But I think the biggest thing will be using yolks instead of whole eggs, which will immediately make the rice more sticky and less liquid-y. Thanks for the comment!

      • Hanson Hsu

        You’re welcome!

        You can also mix the whites well into the hot rice first, then plop the unbroken yolk on top. Pour on some soy sauce and break the yolk right before you dig in. It’s how a ryokan I went to served TKG and it was pretty good. I think this method also eliminates the metallic taste of the white without needing to take the extra step putting the egg into hot water.

      • Kay Meyer

        The liquidy of the white and yolk is what makes it so good. I can’t even imagine it without the whites. I’ve been eating this since I was a kid in the 1960’s. My mother is Japanese and I am sure she had it as a child as well. It’s not something new. I now add cooked lentils in mine.

        • David Graves (Danse Macabre)

          Sometimes, I like to add an extra bit of water so the rice is soft and mushy. Doing this helps it soak in the soy sauce, yolk and whites, as it gives it a nice creamy texture for me. I also like to add roasted peas to give it a nice crunch. The two contrasting textures are divine. Just my opinion, though.

  • Kay Meyer

    My mother made me Tamago Kake Gohan as a little girl in the 1960’s. I am sure she had it as a young girl too. I am now 57 and just started eating it again. I add lentils in with mine and use brown basmati rice with the raw eggs

  • Alex R

    Cupcake Muffins are neither here nor there, Rocky. Get yourself together.

Buy Now - In The Small Kitchen