Omelettes

 

In classic French cuisine, an omelette is a folded, fluffy creation, simply made by whisking eggs and cooking them quickly in a traditional pan. In other parts of the world, however, an omelette is quite a different thing.

MAKING A FOLDED OMELETTE

This is the classic French omelette which is traditionally cooked in a well-seasoned cast-iron pan, although here a non-stick frying pan serves the same purpose. For best results, allow 15 g butter and 3 eggs per omelette in a 20 cm pan.

1. Immediately before cooking, lightly beat the eggs and seasonings with a fork. Do not overbeat the mixture or the finished omelette will be stiff.

2. Heat the butter over a high heat until foaming. Pour in the eggs. Mix with a fork for even distribution.

3. Cook quickly, drawing in the edges with a fork to allow the uncooked egg to run underneath.

4. Tilt the pan and fold the omelette over towards one side of the pan, pushing it with the fork to help it roll.

FLAVOURINGS FOR OMELETTES

Add flavourings to the egg mixture before cooking or spoon fillings into the centre of the omelette and fold over to enclose. The following combinations are delicious.

• Grated cheese and finely diced tomatoes.

• Snipped bacon sautéed in walnut oil until crisp with fresh spinach leaves.

• Sliced or diced peppers and shallots sautéed in butter with sliced mushrooms.

• Smoked salmon shavings and a little fresh dill.

• Chunks of cooked sausage and caramelized onion slices.

• Strips of smoked ham and blanched asparagus tips.

MAKING A JAPANESE OMELETTE

Japanese omelettes offer a symmetrical shape and light texture. They are traditionally made in a 20 cm square pan, and they are rolled as they are fried. If you do not have a pan of this shape, use a round pan and trim the sides of the omelette once cooked. Allow 1 egg and 2 tbsp water for each omelette; the addition of water thins the batter to create light texture. Serve cut into slices or shreds.

1. Brush the pan with a little oil and heat. Pour in half the egg mixture. Tilt the pan to make an even layer. As surface bubbles appear, loosen the edges with a palette knife.

2. Roll omelette towards you with chopsticks. Cook until set, about 1 minute. Make another omelette with remaining mixture.

MAKING OMELETTE SHREDS

In Asian cooking, shreds made from very thin omelettes are used as toppings and garnishes. For a dish to serve four, use 1 egg beaten with a pinch of salt. Cook the omelette in a wok.

1. Heat 1 tbsp oil. Swirl in egg. Cook over moderate heat for 1-2 minutes.

2. Slide the omelette out of the wok, roll up and let cool. Shred crosswise.

MAKING A SOUFFLE OMELETTE

This type of omelette is made by separating eggs, beating the whites until stiff, then folding them into the yolks. As its name suggests, the finished omelette is therefore lighter and fluffier than a conventional omelette. In classic French cuisine, soufflé omelettes are often sweet, and the yolks are beaten to the ribbon stage with sugar before the whites are folded in.

Whisk 3 egg whites until stiff. Fold into 3 seasoned and whisked yolks. Cook as for a folded omelette, without mixing with a fork in step 2.

MAKING AN EGGAH

A traditional Persian dish, an eggah is a kind of thick, firm omelette baked in the oven and served sliced or cut into wedges, hot or cold. Eggahs can be made plain, with a touch of spice, but adding other ingredients is more traditional. Chopped spinach is used here, but fresh herbs, onion, garlic, peppers or other vegetables may be used.

1. Mix 6 beaten eggs with chosen flavourings. Pour into an oiled baking dish.

2. Bake at 170°C until firm, 15-20 minutes. Cut into wedges to serve.

SPANISH TORTILLAS

This omelette is similar to an Italian frittata, except for the cooking technique and some of the flavourings used. Onions and potatoes are fried in a generous amount of olive oil, then beaten eggs are added. Unlike frittata, which is finished by browning under the grill, a tortilla is always flipped over in the pan to brown and set both sides.

MAKING A FRITTATA

A thick, flat Italian omelette, a frittata is partially cooked on top of the stove in a heavy-based pan, then grilled until brown and set. For a 30 cm frittata, use 1-2 tbsp olive oil, 7-10 eggs and flavourings of your choice. The chopped peppers illustrated here are traditional, so too are asparagus, globe artichokes, sliced green beans, mixed chopped herbs, grated Parmesan, tomatoes, chopped onions and garlic.

Whisk eggs with flavourings and pour into hot olive oil. Cook for 15 minutes over a low heat, then brown under the grill for 1-2 minutes.