Egg-citing Delights: Mastering Japanese Egg Recipes

by Nana Young

Eggs, the star of many traditional dishes, are one of the most important ingredients in Japan. They can be eaten raw, boiled, or used in tasty Japanese egg recipes. Read on to learn all the major recipes, from tamagoyaki to kakitamajiru. 

Introduction to Japanese Egg Recipes

Tamagoyaki nigiri sushi. Japanese sushi on a sushi wooden tray.

If you’re looking for the best way to use an egg, Japanese cuisine has the most resourceful and creative ideas you’ll ever see. There is no limit to the culinary versatility of eggs in Japan, as they can be fried to make tamagoyaki, mixed into the batter for okonomiyaki, or turned into a custard for chawanmushi. They can also be used as ingredients for sauces, broths, and binding agents.

In Japan, a big part of the appeal of using eggs in the kitchen is their simplicity. They really don’t take too long to cook and are easy to boil, poach, or scramble. Yet, they produce some of the most elegant dishes you’ll find in the country. In this post, we’ll explore how you can use them to make simple street food or elaborate gourmet desserts. 

The Basics of Japanese Eggs

Top view of eggs and yolk in shell in package on yellow background

The shopping scene for Japanese eggs is much different from what you may be used to overseas. There are different types of cooked and raw eggs in the country, each with its own unique characteristics. We’ll give you a brief rundown of each type below:

  1. Normal eggs: These eggs are common at convenience stores and supermarkets in Japan. They’re the cheapest kinds of eggs, usually priced below 200 yen for half a dozen. Some supermarkets sell normal eggs under their own private brand.

  2. Premium eggs: These types of eggs are high-grade and considered more nutritious than regular eggs. Costing over 200 yen, they are mostly branded but may or may not come from cage-free chickens.

  3. Branded eggs: A specific company sources and distributes these eggs. They give their chickens a special blend of feed to produce more nutritious eggs. Hence, you may see them labeled as “Eiyo kyokaran” or “Nutritionally Fortified Eggs.” Some of them also use cage-free chickens.

  4. Free-range eggs: These types of eggs come from free-range or cage-free chickens allowed to roam the grounds. Such chickens tend to produce eggs containing less cholesterol, more vitamins, and less saturated fat.

  5. Hot springs eggs: These are special types of eggs cooked with heat from hot springs. They’re often called “onsen tamago.” 

These eggs can come in cooked or raw versions, so be sure to read the label or description before buying them. They are mostly brown or white in color, with deep orange egg yolks. Shells and egg yolks differ in color but should never be taken as a sign of nutritional value. However, most Japanese eggs are highly nutritious and play a huge role in the diet of the common folk.

Tamagoyaki: The Classic Japanese Egg Dish

Japanese dishes omelette. Tamagoyaki. Japanese Rolled Omelet.

One of the most popular Japanese egg dishes, tamagoyaki literally means grilled (or fried) egg. It’s a rolled omelette that consists of multiple thin layers of fried eggs. Tamagoyaki tastes slightly sweet and has a similar texture to custard. You’ll find tamagoyaki in bento boxes and on top of sushi rice served at sushi restaurants. In households, kids and adults alike love to enjoy the dish.

The ingredients you need to make tamagoyaki are eggs, sugar, neutral oil, dashi, soy sauce, nori seaweed, and mirin. Tamagoyaki pans are rectangular or square and are specifically designed for making the rolled omelette. However, a round frying pan will work just fine for our recipe. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to prepare tamagoyaki at home:

  1. Break 3 eggs and pour their contents into a bowl. Whisk thoroughly.

  2. Mix 3 tablespoons of dashi and 2 teaspoons of sugar with soy sauce, mirin, and salt (1 teaspoon each) in a bowl.

  3. Pour the mixture into the bowl containing the eggs and whisk some more.

  4. Heat a tamagoyaki pan or regular pan over medium heat. Add a thin layer of neutral oil to it.

  5. Pour just enough of the egg mixture to cover the pan.

  6. Wait until the egg layer is about 80% cooked, then use a spatula or a pair of chopsticks to carefully roll it up from one end.

  7. Take out the tamagoyaki and repeat steps 1 to 6 to make more rolls.

Okonomiyaki: Savory Japanese Pancake

Japanese Traditional Pizza Okonomiyaki, salty taste

Okonomiyaki is a savory Japanese pancake dish made with cabbage, batter, and other ingredients. The batter used in okonomiyaki is a mix of wheat flour, grated yam, and eggs! Okonomiyaki is a common street food in Japan, with several regional varieties. The two main regional variations are the Osaka (or Kansai) style, which involves mixing all ingredients together and the Hiroshima style, which involves layering all ingredients.

Osaka-style okonomiyaki is easier to make on a regular home stove. Hence, we’ll use that for our basic recipe. Here’s what you need: cabbage, green onion, pork belly, tempura scraps (tenkasu), eggs, yam, panko breadcrumbs, sea salt, and olive oil. For toppings, common options include pickled ginger, Kewpie mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, nori, and sesame seeds. To make authentic okonomiyaki, follow these steps:

  1. Prepare the batter by mixing a cup of plain flour with one-quarter teaspoons of salt, sugar, and baking powder. Mix, add grated yam, and mix again. Allow the batter to rest for one hour or more.

  2. Cut the cabbage and green onion, then add them to a bowl. Next, add salt and panko to the bowl.

  3. Mix eggs and tempura scraps with the other ingredients in the bowl.

  4. Place a skillet over medium heat and brush with olive oil. Scoop the mixture and put it in the skillet before flattening it with a spatula. Add slices of pork belly.

  5. Allow to cook for 5 minutes or until the bottom of the cabbage mixture turns brown, then flip it over to cook the other side.

  6. Add toppings to the okonomiyaki and serve. 

Ramen Eggs: Perfecting Ajitsuke Tamago

Ajitsuke Tamago or Nitamago is a hard-boiled or Marinated egg typically served with Ramen

Ramen eggs or ajitsuke tamago, are umami-rich, soft-boiled eggs marinated in a sweetened soy sauce and used as toppings for ramen. They’re famous for their runny yolk and umami taste. The first step to making ramen eggs is to prepare the marinade by mixing and boiling soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and sake. Next, boil the eggs in hot water. Marinate the soft-boiled eggs in the soy-based marinade.

Only use quality eggs for such purposes. For sweet, umami-rich ramen eggs, cook the marinade for an extra minute after boiling. Marinate the eggs for at least a few hours. We recommend doing so overnight. The result will be a perfectly marinated egg with a runny yolk.

Oyakodon: Chicken and Egg Bowl

Oyakodon, bowl of rice topped with chicken and eggs, soy based sauce, served hot

Oyakodon is a type of Japanese rice bowl dish (donburi) made by simmering chicken, eggs, and onions in a sauce poured over rice. Because it contains chicken and eggs, this popular comfort food literally translates to “parent-and-child donburi.” Oyakodon is a staple in Japanese restaurants and households, where its umami-rich taste offers comfort to millions. The dish uses simple pantry ingredients, doesn’t require oil, and takes only 30 minutes or so to cook!

To make oyakodon at home, cook onions with a seasoning mixture of dashi, mirin, sugar, and soy sauce. Next, add the chicken and cook until it loses its pink color. Lightly pour the egg mixture (do this again after an interval). Garnish the oyakodon with green onions and serve over a bowl of steamed rice. For color contrasts between the egg whites and yellows, don’t beat the eggs. Rather, break them into 5 to 6 places with chopsticks. Also, start by adding two-thirds of the available egg mixture to the center of the pan. After a while, add the remaining mixture to the entire surface of the pan.

Chawanmushi: Japanese Steamed Egg Custard

Chawanmushi, traditional appetizer Japanese savory steamed egg custard served in white cup with various toppings and  dashi stock

This is yet another creative and fun Japanese egg recipe for those who love to try something unique. Chawanmushi is a popular Japanese egg-custard dish. To create a savory custard, eggs, dashi, and various ingredients like shrimp or mushrooms are mixed together. Below is a basic recipe for cooking chawanmushi at home:

  1. Mix dashi, mirin, salt, and soy sauce in a bowl.

  2. Add beaten eggs to the mixture and whisk thoroughly.

  3. Pour the entire mixture through a fine mesh sieve and into another bowl to improve the consistency of the custard.

  4. Pour equal portions of the custard mixture into separate chawanmushi cups or small tea cups.

  5. Steam the custard mixture in a steamer, pot, or oven for 20 to 40 minutes.

  6. Serve the chawanmushi hot.

You can serve chawanmushi as an appetizer or side dish. Most people eat it with a wooden or lacquered spoon. 

Egg Over Rice: Tamago Kake Gohan

Tamago kake gohan or Japanese warm rice with a raw egg

Tamago kake gohan or egg over rice, is a simple mixture of raw eggs and hot steamed rice. It takes very little effort or cooking skills to make and is the go-to breakfast for many busy workers in Japan. You can easily elevate this meal by seasoning and mixing it with dashi, soy sauce, salt, and nori. Be sure to beat each raw egg thoroughly before adding them.

Also, only use good-quality eggs for tamago kake gohan. You want to keep them clean throughout the breaking, beating, and mixing processes. We recommend pasteurized eggs, as they’re safer to eat raw.

Japanese Egg Salad for Sandwiches

Egg sandwich and cola, popular food in Japan

The Japanese egg salad is one of the best fillings for sandwiches in the country. Unlike Western-style egg salads, which contain vinegar, onion, celery, and a variety of other ingredients, the Japanese-style egg salad is a lot simpler and contains only mayonnaise, salt, sugar, and pepper. There’s a lot more emphasis on the egg, which brings the majority of the creaminess to the sandwich. Every convenience store in the country probably sells the sandwich to customers.

To make a Japanese egg sandwich, AKA Tamago Sando, you simply need the following ingredients:

  1. Milk bread: We recommend Japanese milk bread (shokupan). You may use soft white bread or buttery brioche bread.

  2. Japanese mayonnaise: The most common type is Kewpie mayonnaise.

  3. Eggs: They're the key ingredient here and should be boiled, peeled, and mashed. Get any kind from an Asian store.

  4. Seasoning: Options include sugar, milk, salt, hot sauce, and pepper.

  5. Butter: We recommend salted butter.

Japanese Omelette Rice: Omurice

Omelette with rice, Japanese food

Japanese omelette rice or omurice, is a traditional Japanese delicacy consisting of an omelette filled with fried rice and usually topped with ketchup or a demi-glace sauce. Because of its creamy texture and simple preparation, this omelette is a staple in Japanese households and is a favorite of all ages.

To create omurice, you need to first cook the fried rice. After that, you can cook the omelette using butter and salt. While the egg is still cooking, place the fried rice in its center and wrap the omelette around the rice, creating an oval-shaped envelope. Transfer the dish to a plate and top it with a hearty drizzle of ketchup.

Japanese Egg Drop Soup: Kakitamajiru

Egg Drop Soup is Kakitamajiru in Japanese.  (tamago means egg)

You don’t have to visit a restaurant to enjoy kakitamajiru. Making the Japanese egg drop soup is quick and easy, and we’ll show you how. But before we dive into the recipe, you should note that this egg drop soup differs from its Chinese counterpart. For one, the Japanese version uses dashi as the soup base, while China’s version uses chicken broth. Japanese egg drop soup also has a lighter consistency, contains soy sauce, and uses potato starch, unlike the Chinese version.

The ingredients you need to make kakitamajiru are eggs, dashi, soy sauce, potato starch, spinach, spring onions, and salt. Follow the cooking process below to make the soup in under 10 minutes:

  1. Boil a mixture of dashi, soy sauce, and salt in a small pot.

  2. Hold a pair of chopsticks so that they stand in the center of the mixture. Drizzle whisked egg on the chopsticks. Draw spirals with the chopsticks away from the center while the egg trickles into the soup.

  3. Allow the dish to simmer for 20 to 25 seconds before adding the spinach or finely chopped spring onions. Your Japanese egg drop soup is ready.

Egg-Based Desserts in Japanese Cuisine

Sweet and delicious castella on a plate, traditionally served as dessert

Eggs are used in many traditional Japanese desserts, including sponge cake (castella), Japanese custard pudding (purin), soufflè pancakes, and Japanese cheesecake. Castella is one of the most popular desserts in Japan. It’s a sweet and bouncy sponge cake often eaten as a stand-alone snack, offered as a gift, or paired with tea.

Castella is made by mixing the batter several times during the baking process until it develops a bouncy texture. It’s then wrapped in a plastic bag and kept overnight. Many people trim the crusts off the cake before serving. A typical castella batter consists of bread flour, eggs, honey, water, glutinous starch syrup, and sugar.

If you would rather enjoy ready-made and authentic Japanese castella, we recommend the following:

  1. Steamed Castella: 8 pieces of delicious custard cream-filled cakes.

  2. Okayama White Peach Castella: fluffy fruit cake from the Okayama prefecture of Japan.

  3. Classic Castella Cake Gift Set: 3 boxes of handcrafted cakes made with traditional recipes, the perfect present for your loved ones.


A man is making Tamagoyaki, Japanese rolled omelette, along the street at Tsukiji fish market, Tokyo, Japan

From being used as grilled dishes and as toppings for stir-fried noodles to being added to soups and desserts, there’s no limit to the versatility of the Japanese egg. We urge you to try these recipes and enjoy a taste of Japan at home. Feel free to take your exploration further by shopping for more authentic Japanese treats at Bokksu Boutique. We’ve got lots of options for you and the special people in your life.


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