Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Lessons in omelette making.

DO I really need a step-by-step guide to making an omelette? A friend of mine asked me this after noticing that I had my head burried in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking (my latest acquisition) all morning, pencil in hand and all. I wondered the same thing myself. I've been making omelettes for myself at least once a week for years and although I realise my omelettes are completely method-free or cincai as we say here in Malaysia (i.e. apart from the eggs, ingredients for my omelettes change all the time depending on what I have in my fridge), I didn't think there was much to learn about making an omelette.

But, as with many of my assumptions, I was WRONG.

It's is easy to make an omelette and it takes only 30-45 seconds. But, if you want to make a perfect omelette -- one that is firm and fleshy on the outside and creamy inside, you need technique.

en route to the perfect rolled omelette 
Apparently, making an omelette isn't as simple as whisking a few eggs, adding some seasoning and fillings and cooking it in some butter in a skillet. There are several important considerations en route to the perfect omelette:
1. Beat your eggs only as much as needed to blend the whites and the yolks. Don't overbeat them.
2. Adding a little water when beating the eggs will make your eggs fluffier. Just a little -- maybe 1 tbsp for 2 eggs.
3. Don't add milk to the egg batter. Milk can have the opposite effect and may take the fluff out of the omelette.
4. Cook your omelette in butter. 
5. The temperature of the butter in the pan when you pour in the egg batter is very important. It cannot be too hot but it should be quite hot. (read the recipe below, it's not as complicated as I make it sound).
6. Be rough with your eggs, omelettes-making is not for namby pambies.
7. Don't let the eggs linger on the fire. Even if you don't like your omelette too soft, you shouldn't keep it on the heat for longer than 45 seconds.

 What do you think? Cooked the Julia Child way, my omelette was close to how Child described a French Omelette should be: "a smooth, gently swelling, golden oval that is tender and creamy inside". Obviously, there is room for improvement  (this was only my first attempt) but I could not believe how different the omelette, done with the proper technique, tasted from my usual cinchai omelettes.
Whoa! So many rules for an omelette? I decided to adhere to all the rules, just to see how different an omelette made the correct way would taste.

The eggs were soft and fluffy, the insides were creamy but not too soft and the taste was simply eggs-quisite (pardon the pun). They tasted great even though, I must admit, I made a little boo boo and added more butter than was recommended!. My eyesight must be going as I age as I read 1 oz (30g) butter instead of 1/2 (14gm) listed in the recipe!!!

I need to practice my technique a lot more but I am positive that I will not make my future omelettes any other way. Note: Read through the recipe and, if you need a visual tutorial, click on the link below the recipe for a video of Child making an omelette.

The perfect omelette

2 or 3 eggs
1 tbsp water
Big pinch of salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
A mixing bowl
A fork

Beat the eggs, water and seasoning in the mixing bowl for about 20 to 30 seconds until the whites and yolks are nicely blended.

1/2 oz butter
A omelette pan or skillet about 17cm in diameter (non stick or cast iron frypan is best) 
A fork

Place the butter in the skillet over high heat. As the butter melts, tilt the pan in all directions to film all sides. When the foam has almost subsided in the pan and the butter is just about to brown, pour in the eggs. It is of utmost importance that the butter be of the correct temperature.
Let the eggs settle in the pan for about 2 to 3 seconds, forming a film of coagulated egg in the bottom of the pan.
Grasp the handle of the pan with both hands, thumbs on top. Immediately begin jerking the pan vigorously and roughly towards you at an even 20 degree angle over the heat: about one jerk per second.
The sharp pull of the pan towards you throws the egg towards the far lip of the pan and then towards you again. 
You must have the courage to be rough or the eggs will not loosed themselves from the bottom of the pan. After several jerks, the eggs will begin to thicken. 
Add any filling (cheese, herbs, mushroom) at this point of time.
Then increase the angle of the pan (about 45 degrees). This will force the egg mass to roll over to the far lip of the pan. As soon as the omelette has shaped up, hold the bottom of the pan at an angle to brown the bottom slightly for a few seconds. Not too long as the insides of the omelette should remain soft and creamy. Tilt the pan onto a plate so the omelette slides off the pan onto the plate.
Rub the top of the omelette with a but of butter and sprinkle with chopped herbs, if you wish. 

For a more visual guide to Child's method of making an omelette, go to  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWmvfUKwBrg


  1. The omelette looking so yummy girl - i am a sucker for eggs :) so time to go fill up my stomach now for lunch:)

  2. I am also a sucker for eggs! Which is why I don't mind practicing till I get the technique down pat :)


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