Consider the omelette


Sometimes making a particular dish takes a long time, involving several steps, but if you follow the directions carefully enough it's fairly easy. On the other hand there are things that only take a few minutes to prepare, but may take years to really get right.

One such item is a classic plain omelette.

To make a good omelette, you must start with good eggs. Good eggs are fresh (used within a week of laying), and preferably come from happy hens who have been raised in an environment where they are allowed to roam freely, rather than an egg factory. Even if you have to pay a premium price for such eggs, it's worth it. I know there are several tests that are supposed to show if an egg is fresh or not (such as that it sinks in a bowl of water) but the best way to ensure that you have fresh eggs is to buy them from a reputable source.

I mentioned before that we are lucky enough to have an organic farm within 5 minutes from our house. The main reason we love them so much is that they sell fresh eggs, from happy hens. The yolk color varies according to the season - in the winter it's a rich lemon-yellow, and in the warm months it's a deep orange. The eggs are also expensive, at 60 Rappen per egg (about 50 US cents), but considering that just 2 to 3 eggs produce a delicious omelette, it's a bargain.

The other critical ingredient is butter. Use unsalted butter, as fresh as you can get it.

The perfect omelette should be just cooked with maybe a hint of brownishness on the outside, and runny and creamy on the inside. You must eat it when it's just out of the pan, so make everything else ready beforehand.

Great accompaniments for an omelette include boiled potatoes with a bit of chopped parsley and butter, a green salad, and/or a crusty baguette. Add a glass of crisp dry white wine (a Sauvignon Blanc or a Chenin Blanc would be nice) and you'll be in heaven.

The plain omelette

  • 2 extra-large or 3 medium to large eggs
  • 1-2 Tbs of cream
  • Salt and pepper
  • Unsalted butter

Equipment needed: a 20 cm / 8 inch non-stick frying pan. I have a 10 year old Tefal model that I basically only use for omelettes or fried eggs. Plus a clean kitchen towel.

Break the eggs into a bowl. Add the cream and mix thoroughly with a fork. You don't need to use a whisk since you just want it to be thorougly amalgamated and creamy, not necessarily frothy.

Heat up the frying pan over medium-high heat. Add about 1/2 - 1 Tbs of butter and swirl it around. Heat until the butter has more or less stopped bubbling (that's a sign that all the moisture is gone).

Add a dash of salt and a few grinds of pepper to the eggs. As soon as the butter is melted, rapidly tip the egg mixture into the pan. Now, you have to work fast. Either swirl the omelette around rapidly to make the cooked part go to the middle and the raw part to flow out, or flip in the cooked edges with a fork, tilting the pan to let the raw part flow out. Repeat several times, all around the pan. Practice really does improve technique.

As soon as the bottom is set and the middle part is creamy and slightly runny, take the pan off the heat. Tilt the pan over a plate (heated if possible) and let one third of the omelette slide onto the plate. Turn the pan and flop it onto the plate in thirds.

To make the perfect oval omelette, using the kitchen towel gently press the omelette into shape.

Serve immediately.

Variation: to make this an omelette aux fines herbes (omelette with herbs), add some chopped fresh herbs into the egg mixture. Some to try are: parsley, chervil or trefoil, and chives.

Filed under:  basics eggs favorites

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When I lived in Kyoto, our next door neighbor had a few chickens. Every morning my roommate and I would buy two fresh eggs from her. They were still warm! We would crack them over hot brown rice, stir them up with the rice and add shoyu and slices of nori. This is still my favorite breakfast of all time, though it grosses out most Americans I know.

Here in Sacramento we often get eggs from my mother's friend who raises chickens with a lot of love and room to roam. The eggs come in all different sizes and colors and they make the best tasting scrambled eggs and egg omelettes! There really is a difference in taste between these and store bought. Sort of like the difference between organic heirloom tomatoes and those from the grocery store.

Your delicious blog and this specific post call to mind the Tea Ceremony.

Elise, I love the comparison between heirloom tomatoes vs. regular ones and fresh organic eggs vs. store bought! That's so true. I love raw egg with soy sauce on hot rice too.. hehe.
(have you tried just the yolk? That is very much richer and quite tasty too.)

Sissy, thanks :) I've never taken tea lessons formally, but from what I understand the whole ceremony is about appreciating everything - the flavor and aroma of the tea, your surroundings, etc. with all your senses. And I think that real appreciation of food is about that too.

Why go to the trouble of using unsalted butter (usually more expensive) and then add salt? I've never read any logical reason not to use salted butter, other than when baking things where the leavening effect of the salt is hyper-critical and you need to control the amount. But I suspect this is exageration rather than chemical reality, and I doubt most people making the claim have really tested it.

A good question why just use salted butter... but, do you know how much salt is in that salted butter? Usually too much anyway.

Also keep in mind that even here salt covers the flavor, which means that it is possible to sell lower quality butter when it is salted. And that means that you will get dreck when you have salted butter, as opposed to unsalted. This also explains why salted butter is more expensive...

Think about it.

What a wonderful simple way to make an omelette. I was taught to make it by seperating the yolk and the whites and then whisp the whites until almost stiff and gently fold them into the yolks mixed with cream, seasoning and herbs. But your methode I've got to try, thanks!

Re: unsalted vs. salted butter; what Max said is my primary concern with salted butter. Salted butter lasts longer...and therefore can be not as fresh as unsalted. For the simplest dishes, such as an omelette, I believe you should choose the freshest and best ingredients possible. The ideal would be farm-fresh organic eggs and organic unsalted butter. Believe me, you will taste the difference.

Karen, I think the method of whipping the whites separately is another type of omelette - i guess I'll write about that some other time. :)

Perfect description and recipe, I tried it with great results. I recommend finishing the omelette bien cuit and slicing it for filling. My favourite filling is chopped green olives.


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this looked delicious, can i thy make this for omurice basic, btw how to make omu rice???