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Types of Omelettes – Ethnic Variations

The fluffy omelette is a refined version of an ancient food. According to Alan Davidson, the French word omelette came into use during the mid-16th century, but the versions alumelle and alumete are employed by the Ménagier de Paris (II, 5) in 1393. Rabelais (Pantagruel, IV, 9) mentions an homelaicte d’oeufs, Olivier de Serres an amelette, François Pierre La Varenne’s Le cuisinier françois (1651) has aumelette, and the modern omelette appears in Cuisine bourgoise (1784). According to the founding legend of the annual giant Easter omelette of Bessières, Haute-Garonne, when Napoleon Bonaparte and his army were traveling through southern France, they decided to rest for the night near the town of Bessières. Napoleon feasted on an omelette prepared by a local innkeeper that was such a culinary delight that he ordered the townspeople to gather all the eggs in the village and to prepare a huge omelette for his army the next day. On March 19, 1994, the largest omelette (128.5 m²; 1,383 ft²) in the world at the time was made with 160,000 eggs in Yokohama, Japan, but it was subsequently overtaken by an omelette made by the Lung Association in Brockville Memorial Centre, Ontario, Canada on May 11, 2002 — it weighed 2.95 tonnes (2,950 kg). On other occasions, modern omelettes, unlike 19th century ones cooked with six or eight beaten eggs in the pan, are made separately for each individual, of two or three eggs.

Ethnic Variations – Types of Omelettes

Iran– An Iranian omelette (Khagine) is made of egg beaten with sugar. In Iran, beaten eggs are quickly cooked with butter or oil in a frying pan.

China– A Chinese omelette can be Egg Foo Yung or an Oyster Omelette.

France– The French Omelette is smoothly and briskly cooked in a very, very hot pan specially made for the purpose. The technique relies on clarified butter (to ensure a high smoke point) in relatively great ratio to the eggs (prevents sticking and cooks the eggs quicker). Good with just salt and pepper, this omelette is often flavoured with tomato and finely chopped herbs (often fines herbes or tarragon, chervil, parsley and chives) or chopped onions. French omelettes are also removed from the pan in a manner different from an American omelette. They can be rolled out in a trifold design or just simply slide out of the pan directly into a plate and when made correctly have little to no colour to them.

Greece– A Greek Omeleta consists of pan-fried or sautéed vegetables, pastas, or various leftovers over which beaten eggs are poured over to act as a binder. It is then cooked with a plate over top, flipped onto the plate, and slid back in to cook the other side. Unlike many of the other omelette styles provided here, the Greek omeleta is more often used to showcase leftovers or fresh ingredients rather than emphasize the eggs.

Italy– A frittata is a kind of open-faced Italian omelette that can contain cheese, vegetables, or even leftover pasta. Frittate are cooked slowly. Except for the cooking oil, all ingredients are fully mixed with the eggs before cooking starts.

India– An Indian omelette often called Masala Omelette is usually made with the addition of spices which vary by region. Most commonly used are finely chopped green chillies, chopped onions, coriander leaf or powder, cumin and a pinch of turmeric, all of which are added to the egg before it is whisked. An exception to this is the Tomato Omelette which doesn’t contain egg, but is called an omelette simply because of its resemblance to an omelette.

Netherlands– In the Netherlands, a Boerenomelet (“farmer’s omelette”) is a popular dish, usually consisting of 2 to 3 eggs, a mixture of sautéed onions, mushrooms, potatoes, capsicums, leeks, garden peas, salt and pepper (for seasoning). The dish has many variations.

Spain– The Spanish Tortilla de Patatas is a traditional and very popular thick omelette containing sliced potatoes sautéed in cooking oil. It often includes sliced onions too (tortilla de patata con cebolla), and less commonly other additional fillings such as cheese, capsicums, and cooked diced ham.

KoreaPajeon – It is a pancake-like Korean dish made from a batter of eggs, flour, rice flour, spring onions and other additional ingredients depending on the variety. Beef, pork, kimchi, shellfish and other seafood are mostly used.

Morocco– In Morocco, common omelettes are called tortillas as well. They have the same ingredients as the Spanish, except for added cumin and fleur de sel.

England– In the United Kingdom omelette is traditionally made with cheese, milk and eggs. And when cooked on one side, instead of folding, they are flipped to cook the other side before serving.

Japan– In Japan, Tamagoyaki is a traditional omelette. Omelette (pronounced omuretsu) can mean a Western omelette. Omurice (from the English words “omelette” and “rice”) is an omelette filled with rice and usually served with a large amount of tomato sauce. Omu-soba is an omelette with yakisoba as its filling.

Thailand–  In Thai cuisine, a traditional omelette is called Khai Chiao (khai meaning “egg”, and chiao meaning oil-fried), in which the beaten egg mixture is deep fried in a wok filled with 1-2 cups of vegetable oil and served over steamed rice. The dish is usually served with Sriracha sauce. A variation on this dish is khai chiao songkhrueang, where the plain egg omelette is served together with a stir-fry of meat and vegetables. Yet another type of Thai omelette is Kai Yat Sai, literally “eggs filled with stuffing”.

California– A Hangtown Fry, containing bacon and oysters, is an unusual omelette which originated in Placerville, California during the gold rush.

IndonesiaTelor Dadar is a flat, omelette-style side dish usually eaten with rice, consisting of eggs pan-fried with chillies and onions. These omelettes can be found in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Philippines– In the Philippines, the term for omelette is Torta – not to be confused with the Mexican torta (sandwich), Italian torta (pie) or the Spanish torta (cake). Generally served for breakfast, countless fillings such as onions, garlic, tomatoes, corned beef, potatoes, capsicums, raisins and possibly leftovers from previous day’s meal like grilled eggplant, ground, chopped or shredded pork and beef are used. It is eaten by itself or served with Garlic Fried Rice and Banana Ketchup on the side.

– The Matzah brei is a well-known Ashkenazi Jewish variation which relies on mixing a crumbled Matzo into the beaten egg before frying. This results in a much crispier, heavier omelette. The use of milk is optional, and many Matzah brei recipes are in fact sweet (thanks to adding sugar). Sides and toppings differ widely depending on local customs, especially in Israel where the various Jewish ethnic groups have adapted this recipe to suit their own cuisines.

No Flag– A Denver Omelette, also known as a Southwest omelette or Western omelette, is an omelette filled with diced ham, onions, and green capsicums, though there are many variations on fillings. Often served in the Southwestern United States, this omelette sometimes has a topping of cheese and a side dish of hash browns or fried potatoes.

No Flag– An egg white omelette is a variation which omits the yolks to remove fat and cholesterol, which reside exclusively in the yolk portion of an egg.

No Flag– An Omelette Soufflé is made with beaten egg-white carefully mixed under the yolks, and often a little amount of flour and sugar. Usually this kind of omelette gets folded in half and has a sweet filling.

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John Doe
Professor of Botanics
Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, John is a superior specialist in growing palms and exotic plants.
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