Tamago: A Staple in Japanese Food Culture

Tamago is Japanese for egg. This simple food is one of the most popular ingredients in Japan. Sometimes it is a component of another beloved dish, and sometimes it stands alone, but eggs can be found in a huge number of places, from top Japanese restaurants to street food vendors. As a country, Japan consumes the most eggs of any place in the world, so it’s not surprising to find them in so many popular Japanese dishes. Here is a closer look at how tamago is used in Japanese cuisine.

Raw Eggs

Unlike many places in the world, people in Japan like to eat their eggs raw. Raw eggs are used in many popular dishes, such as tamagokake-gohan, which is a dish that consists of rice topped with a raw egg and soy sauce, and an omelet that is filled with rice. Although many people in other cultures think of eating raw eggs as dangerous, people in Japan believe them to be safe if they are eaten within a specific window of time. Eggs are marked with a best-by date that indicates the window in which eggs can be eaten raw. After that, they must be cooked to be enjoyed safely.

Evolution of the Egg

Eggs are a quintessential Japanese food now, but this wasn’t always the case. From the 14th century onward, eggs were frequently banned under Buddhist guidelines. Even when they weren’t banned, they were often not a popular choice. Starting in about 1603, eggs became embraced as a luxury item, but it wasn’t until after World War II that eggs became a dietary staple.

Popular Egg Dishes

Eggs form the basis of both sweet and savory dishes in Japan. Marinated eggs are frequently used to top ramen or enjoyed on their own. Egg puddings and custards are popular desserts. Raw eggs are frequently mixed with soybeans as a side dish, and many variations of chicken and eggs cooked together are served with rice or noodles.

For a taste of Japan, visit House of Genji. Our teppanyaki dishes offer an authentic Japanese experience close to home. You can learn more about our Japanese restaurant in San Jose by calling (408) 453-8120.

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