gyudon + onsen tamago
Love doesn’t begin to describe how I feel about Onsen Tamago – I’d eat them on anything if I could. Directly translating to “hot spring egg”, these are traditionally cooked in baskets submerged in the constant temperatures of Japanese hot springs. Luckily for the casual cook you don’t need an onsen in your back yard or a water bath in your kitchen to recreate these at home. In fact all you need are eggs, boiling water, a pot (or other suitable metal container), and 10 minutes to achieve velvety soft yolks and slippery silky whites. Gorgeous chilled with dashi and a dash of soy, added to udon and soba soups or on steaming hot rice bowls, like this lovely savoury/sweet beef and onion number. A satisfying supper any day of the week.
Gyudon with Onsen Tamago
(Beef Rice Bowl with Hot Spring Egg)
250g thinly-sliced beef*
2 medium onions, sliced
100ml (1/2 cup) white wine
50ml (4 tbsp) water
75ml (6 tbsp) mirin
75ml (6 tbsp) soy sauce
2 tbsp sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
steamed Japanese (short grain) rice to serve
Combine the wine and water in a to a boil in a pan on a medium heat then add the beef, leaving it to simmer for 3-4 minutes. Skim the surface of the liquid to remove any impurities, then add the sugar, soy and mirin. Cover with a drop lip (cut a circle of parchment paper equal in circumference to your cooking vessel) and simmer gently for a further 5 minutes.
Carefully lift the lid and pop in the onions. Recover and simmer for another 8-10 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent.
In the meantime make your onsen eggs: place the eggs (make sure these are at room temperature or they will not cook properly) in a small saucepan or a metal container that retains heat well, and pour over boiling water to cover. Leave to sit for 10 minutes then drain in colander.
To serve, pile hot steaming rice into individual books and top with beef, onions and a drizzle of braising liquor (don’t be tempted to pour on too much as it is quite sweet – you can always add more to taste at the table). Crack an onsen egg into each bowl and serve immediately.
* try and get hold of the wafer-thin steak intended for sukiyaki found fresh or frozen at oriental food stores.