Ask yourself, why and where did tamago find its way into sushi when sushi is predominately raw fish. Where does egg fit in, if at all. I am not a person that I can say, eats tamago, or enjoys it. The Japanese omelet typically found in sushi counters all over the globe has become a standard. But I believe that it doesn’t have a place in sushi, it is just too foreign but in this particular case, I begin to understand the connection.
I guess at it; the reason was that sushi chefs would eat eggs for breakfast and it eventually found its way into the line up. Probably early morning clients enjoyed a taste of egg and rice which was common. For example, “donbori” a hot dish rice bowl dish that included fresh egg served atop. The idea of egg was commonplace and one chef probably said, “ah ha, cold eggs” and all of a sudden, fusion of egg, as a cold condiment became a nice alternate. Rice and omelet would now become attractive and certainly less than costly raw fish.
More interestingly, I have a close friend who I consider to be the finest sushi chefs on our globe. He does not serve any Tamago at all. I asked him over the last thirty years, “why no tamago”and he just says “not my thing”.
Now after thinking about it and asking myself the question, what it is that bothers my friend about tamago. Basically I am guessing, but I start to believe that tamago is just mundane, it has very little, if nothing to do with sushi itself. A kind of substitute when substitutes are unnecessary. More probably it takes away a certain focus on the experience itself, the rhythm of eating fish and the importance of a sequence in service of fish. Think of it this way, you are eating steak and all of a sudden they serve you egg as a condiment, and you ask yourself why.
It is not commonplace, it is not complementary. The client’s rhythm gets interrupted with tamago, it really has no place except, and perhaps at the end of the meal, so any other time, is just a filler in place of fish. Unnecessary perhaps and the main problem is, it has little connection to the “raw fish” experience.
Sushi has a clearly defined sequence in service from start to finish. You start with white fish and you go on to finish with sweetness, i.e. anago with Tsume, (a sweet sauce), or ume and shiso, a classic that is never dipped in shoyu.
But in this case, Kizushi (a sushi restaurant in Tokyo’s outskirts) their tamago is fantastic. It is laboress to make, it takes two people to mix it. It is an extraordinary type tamago, which is made with white shrimp paste and all of a sudden some relevance to sushi. The fish paste added makes the eggs fall into the background, and this tamago becomes a kind of intermezzo.
Kizushi’s tamago cooked to perfection, golden brown color. When you try it, it has a slight taste of fish, a balance between the ingredients that is perfect. This is what I call the “real deal”, and the exception to the rule.
Here you see it being hand mixed, a stirring of the eggs in an over-sized bowl to whip it to the perfect consistency.
Kizushi relies on their traditions, two sons and a father with their mother, passionate and dedicated to their trade. It is rare today to find a family business and luckily they provide us an important missing clue.