Garlic chive omelet ニラ玉

japanese cake

Japanese really like garic chives or nira ニラ. I see garlic chives rarely in the regular grocery store but, fortunately, we have garlic chives growing in our herb garden and they just emerged for spring. When I told our Japanese landscaper that our garlic chives tend to be tough, he told me to cut them off frequently even if you do not eat what you cut. That way, new teder shoots will keep coming up. So, I am harvesting occasionally even if I do not use it.

Japanese think the combination of garlic chives and eggs is particularly good. This dish, “Nira-tama”,  “nira” means garlic chives and “tama” is short for “tamago” meaning eggs, is one of these dishes and must have a root in a chinese dish.

As long as you have fresh garlic chives, this is an easy dish. There appears to be two basic styles; for one the eggs just get scrambled with the garlic chives and in the other is to mix the chives and eggs to make a round omelet. The difference may seem subtle but the end result is different in consistency–the round one is almost like a Spanish tortilla. I chose the latter and also made a sauce or “an” 餡.


Fresh garlic chives (one small bunch) chopped into small pieces. I mixed the pieces into the beaten eggs (2 large) and seasoned with salt and pepper (left). In a small no-stick frying pan, I added vegetable oil and sesame oil (1:1 total of about 3 tsp) and cooked it on medum low flame for a few minutes and flipped over (right)

For the sauce, I simply mixed dashi (1/4 cup), soy sauce (1 tbs) and mirin (1 tbs). When it came to a boil, I added a potato starch slurry made with sake (2 tsp) to thicken the sauce. You could add vinegar to make it a sweet and sour sauce or add hot sauce to make it spicy.

I served this as a drinkng snack. This late spring/early summer garlic chives were tender but did not have a strong flavor–it was a classic taste of the season. I served this with asazuke of cucumber, daikon and carrot, blanched broccolini with mustard soy sauce dressing or “Karashi souyu” 芥子醤油.


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