Date Maki vs Tamago Yaki: Japanese Rolled Omelettes
Happy New Year 2021!
I spent the New Year’s Eve, or “Omisoka (大晦日)”, watching “Kouhaku Uta Gassen (紅白歌合戦: literally Red and White Song Battle)”, a standard long-loved special TV program for Omisoka in Japan, and ate “Toshikoshi Soba (年越しそば: literally meaning Year-Crossing Noodles)” shortly before midnight.
And today (January 1st)’s morning, I ate traditional Japanese dishes for the New Year called “Osechi Ryori (お節料理)”. Osechi Ryori, also simply called just Osechi, is typically served in a layered lacquered box called “Jubako (重箱)” and usually consists of a variety of small side dishes.
Representative examples of such special side dishes include “Kazunoko (数の子: pickled herring roe)”, “Kuro Mame (黒豆: simmered black beans)”, “Kuri Kinton (栗きんとん: mashed sweet potatoes with sweetened chestnuts)”, “Kouhaku Kamaboko (紅白蒲鉾: red and white fish cake)”, and “Date Maki (伊達巻: sweet rolled omelet)”.
Date Maki vs Tamago Yaki
As for the last item Datemaki, we Japanese often eat “Tamago Yaki (玉子焼き: literally Fried Egg)” at breakfast, which is also a sweet or dashi-rich rolled egg omelet, but Date Maki is somewhat different from Tamago Yaki.
Date Maki (伊達巻)
Date Maki is not only made from scratch at home, but it is also available in a pre-prepared form in supermarkets and can be eaten throughout the year. And in the Japanese New Year’s dish Osechi, the rolled egg omelet makes up an essential part.
Unlike Tamago Yaki, Date Maki is made from beaten egg and dashi soup stock mixed with minced fish or prawn (surimi) and seasoned typically with sugar and mirin (sweet cooking rice wine). In texture, it is more smooth and resilient than Tamago Yaki.
In the name Datemaki, “Maki (巻)” is a Japanese word for roll, while the origin of the word “Date (伊達)” is said to derive from the fact that a famous feudal lord in the Azuchi–Momoyama period (1573 – 1603), “Date Masamune (伊達 政宗)” loved the sweet rolled omelet.
Tamago Yaki (玉子焼き)
On the other hand, Tamago Yaki is made from beaten hen’s egg and typical seasonings for it include salt, soy sauce, dashi, sugar, mirin, and Mentsuyu. So it comes in both sweet and salty varieties.
In everyday life, Tamago Yaki is much more common than Date Maki and is often served in breakfast and used in Bento Box lunches. By the way, in its name, “Tamago (玉子, 卵)” means “Egg” and “Yaki (焼き)” refers to a fry.