Posts tagged ‘omerice’

March 25th, 2013

Spaghetti Napolitan

It started with a simple request: “I want spaghetti tonight.”  I didn’t have any sauce precooked, and the thought of pasta sauce in a jar? No way.  I refuse to use those from the grocery shelf since my first taste back in college.  What spaghetti dish could I make with limited time and ingredients?  The answer? Spaghetti Napolitan!

napolitan

“Napolitan” sounds Italian, doesn’t it?  Then why you haven’t heard of it?  Because it isn’t real Italian, that’s why.   (Spaghetti) Napolitan is a Japanese kids’ favorite that you can find on the menu at most of Japanese cafes.  It’s spaghetti with onion, green pepper and mushroom with some kind of processed meat (such as bacon or ham) and ketchup.   The Japanese created this dish after World War II.  Japanese chefs at the Hotel New Grand, which GHQ requisitioned for a while, got the idea from observing American soldiers eating spaghetti with ketchup as their regular meal.  So those hotel chefs probably thought why not, right?   My exact thoughts: my husband loves ketchup, he puts that on everything, so why not?

I was so wrong.  My husband said he didn’t like spaghetti with the flavor of ketchup.  “But”, I said, “You like ketchup!”  “Not with pasta!”  But again, I said, “This is almost like omerice that you like.” Instead of answering, he quoted GoodFellas.  “I ordered some spaghetti with marinara sauce and I got egg noodles and ketchup.”  *Sigh* I can’t argue with one of the greatest movies ever, but still, all these Japanese kids grow up eating it and loving it!  Are they schnooks?   Why doesn’t  my ketchup loving husband like it?

Adding insult to injury, he even said he’d rather have spaghetti with sauce from a jar.  Although I doubt he’ll eat jarred pasta sauce, I guess he was expecting “real Italian” spaghetti, so receiving “ketchup” tasting pasta was disappointing.  I thought this was ironic because ketchup was invented by Americans, and Napolitan was invented by the Japanese, so in theory, it’s a perfect “fusion” dish, right?  Oh well, cook and learn!

P.S. He didn’t hate it; he finished the plate.

October 15th, 2011

Omerice (omelette + rice)

When I first realized that my husband REALLY didn’t like typical Japanese food, like grilled fish, root vegetables and everything in soy sauce, I was saddened.  I really wanted to be able to share the cuisine of my culture with him, but he just doesn’t enjoy it, and claims there’s some taste that’s in everything, that he dislikes.  Sushi?  Forget it… seafood is already a red flag with him, and wrapping it in seaweed is no selling point. But, whether out of luck or out of necessity, I came to realize that not all Japanese foods are seasoned with soy sauce and loaded with fish!!
Take Omerice, for example.  It’s pronounced “omu-raisu”, but don’t worry if you mispronounce it, as it’s a made up word.  Can you guess what two foods give it its name?  If you said omelette and rice, then you are not only a good guesser, but you’ve practically named the entire recipe.  This simple combo is hands-down, every Japanese kid’s favorite meal.  From the outside, it looks exactly like a regular omelette, but inside, you’ll find fried rice seasoned with ketchup!!   Intrigued?   My picky husband doesn’t like rice, but he does love eggs and ketchup, and since he eats like a kid, I thought I’d give it a try.  Would he like it?  Would omerice sneak through the picky filter?  Believe it or not, this was the first Japanese dish I cooked that he liked.

Generally speaking, you can divide Japanese food into two categories.  Washoku is a traditional Japanese style food with very little oil, but heavy on salt and soy sauce.  It contains virtually no butter or cream. Yoshoku, on the other hand, can be considered to be  western influenced Japanese food, and is often characterized by its heavy usage of butter, cream and gravy.  Yoshoku, came into being while cooking for westerners in Japan in the mid 19th century. Omerice, using rice as a filling for an omelette, is a typical family meal at a yoshoku restaurant in Tokyo.  Want to mix a little history in with your ketchup?  Eat omerice at the original restaurant that claims to have created this dish in Tokyo for a reasonable 15 dollars (1,300 yen).  I can tell you from personal experience that the restaurant truly has the feel of 1895 Japan, but with, unfortunately, modern day pricing.  Don’t have $15?  Well, you’re in luck, as you’ll find the recipe for omerice posted here.