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Recipe: Japanese-Style Stuffed Omelet

I first tried this dish when I lived in Japan, where they call it Omu-rice. It's a delicious combination of sauteed rice, chicken and vegetables, all stuffed inside an omelet. The filling is so satisfying, you can even serve it without the eggs in a thermos for lunch the next day.

It's one of those Japanese dishes few Americans have heard of, because it's typically served by moms at home to their families. Sometimes, it also shows up on the menus of small, family-style restaurants that focus on simple fare. It's a staple in my house, and this is the exact same recipe I serve to my Japanese father-in-law.

INGREDIENTS

4 cups cooked sticky, short grain rice. (This is best done in a Japanese rice cooker)
1/2 onion, chopped
2-3 ribs celery, chopped (you can change this to pepper or another vegetable your family prefers)
10-16 oz boneless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 1 inch chunks. Leftover cooked chicken is fine for this, too.
Canola oil
Ketchup
Salt and pepper
6-8 eggs 

DIRECTIONS

If you are starting with chicken that's already cooked, chop, set aside and skip to step 3.

1. If you are starting with raw chicken, heat to boiling about 4-6 cups of water in a small pot and then add 1 tablespoon salt to the water.

2. Add the chopped chicken to the water. Stir to prevent sticking. Cook for a few minutes until cooked through. Drain in a strainer.

Chopped, cooked chicken

3. Heat 4-5 tablespoons of canola oil in a deep, non-stick wok on medium high. Saute the onions and celery for 5-7 minutes until soft. You want the onions to lose their oniony flavor and develop their natural sweetness, so don't rush this step! (I'm not a huge fan of Teflon, but stir-fried rice is the one dish I use it for, because sticky rice is well... sticky.)

4. Add the chicken and a little more salt (1/2 teaspoon) and saute a few minutes more.

Stir fry ingredients

5. Add the hot rice. Don't worry if it looks like big chunks at first. Use a wooden spatula to break it up and stir everything around.

Rice added to wok

6. When it's all nicely blended, make a well in the center, and add about 1/4 cup of ketchup (or a few big squirts).

ketchup well in rice

Keep stirring it all around until everything is mixed.

Omu Rice

7. Cover and let it steam for a few minutes. See that steam? It makes the dish taste better. I promise.

Covered Pan

Take the cover off and put a little on a plate. Taste it to see if it needs some salt and pepper. Be sure to put the cover back on, so you don't keep snitching.

Omu Rice on a plate

8. To make the omelet, heat about 1 tablespoon of oil in a frying skillet (I use a cast-iron skillet).

9. Crack open the eggs, scramble them in a bowl, and make 1 thin flat omelet for each person.

Note: For my kids, I make a 3-egg omelet and then divide it into 3 portions, because it's hard to make a neat, single-egg omelet. For my husband, I make a 4-egg omelet and serve him the whole thing.

10. Spread the omelet out on a plate, fill half of it with the rice mixture, and fold it over. 

11. Add salt and pepper to taste and decorate with ketchup.

If you are in a rush, just layer the rice on bottom, and place the omelet on top. The kids love it when I decorate with a monster or a smiley face. Sometimes, they look the same.

You can learn more about Carol at www.carolschiller.com.

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