tamago-kake-gohan | a bowl filled with Japanese white rice with a raw egg on top next to a small bowl with soy sauce in it

Tamago-Kake-Gohan – Why the Japanese Eat Raw Eggs

Tamago-Kake-Gohan or often called TKG by raw egg loving young people in Japan is one of the simplest yet most delicious Japanese foods. Yes, eating raw eggs does sound weird and dangerous at first. But trust me, it tastes phenomenal. In this article, you’ll learn what tamago-kake-gohan is, how you can make it and why the Japanese eat raw eggs.

What is Tamago-Kake-Gohan?

tamago-kake-gohan | a bowl filled with Japanese white rice with a raw egg on top next to a small bowl with soy sauce in it

卵かけご飯 (tamago-kake-gohan) translates to “rice topped with egg”. And this pretty much sums it up. All you need to prepare a delicious bowl of TKG is cooked white rice and a raw egg. But most Japanese people also use a bit of soy sauce to give the dish a bit more flavour.

As a matter of fact, Japanese people often eat TKG for breakfast as it’s easy and quick to prepare. Also, it’s pretty light.

As I’ll show you later there are many variations of tamago-kake-gohan. But the most simple one only includes rice, raw egg and soy sauce.

When I first saw my host mother eat TKG I couldn’t believe it. Is eating raw egg even safe?


Related: 10 Ways to Eat Rice in Japan and Why Are the Japanese so Slim?


 

Is Eating Raw Eggs in Japan Safe?

Yes, eating raw eggs in Japan is safe. Unlike in many European countries where eggs are stored at room temperature, in Japan eggs are always stored in a refrigerator. This limits how fast the dangerous salmonella germ can reproduce.

Also, eggs in Japan are regularly tested. In fact, a test found that only 3 of 100’000 randomly selected eggs were contaminated with Salmonella. Sadly, I couldn’t find any official data for the EU or US. Regardless would I say that there the risk is much higher than it is in Japan. That’s because in the EU and the US eggs are often stored at room temperature.

In addition, the expiration date of eggs in Japan is set at just two weeks. Which makes sense because the longer you keep an egg the higher is the risk that Salmonella develop. So, in general eggs in Japan are fresher and this makes it less likely that they contain Salmonella.

But still, when I returned to Switzerland I kept eating raw eggs that weren’t refrigerated at the supermarket and I haven’t had any issues (yet).

How to Make Tamago-Kake-Gohan

Making Tamago-Kake-Gohan is very easy. As I said earlier, simply prepare a bowl of rice and form a little mould in the middle. This will keep the egg in place. Next, crack open an egg and pour it into the mould. Finally, pour some soy sauce on top and then mix everything until you have something that looks like what you see in the last picture.

I personally don’t like TKG with too much soy sauce, but that’s my opinion. Experiment a bit until you find the right amount of soy sauce so that you like it.


Related: How to Arrange a Japanese Meal


 

Popular Variations of Tamago-Kake-Gohan

The basic TKG version is already pretty tasty. But there are many ways in which you can make the dish taste even better.

Raw Egg With Nattō

Some Japanese people like to eat Tamago-Kake-Gohan together with fermented soybeans called Nattō. My host mother really liked Nattō and she used to eat TKG mixed with it every single morning. At that time, eating fermented soybeans or raw eggs still seemed pretty strange to me. But one day I thought that I just had to try it. And despite the looks, it does taste pretty good, actually.

Tamago-Kake-Gohan With Toppings

Many Japanese people like to put some extra ingredients into their raw egg and rice mix.

My personal favourite TKG variation includes ground sesame seeds and spring onion. You can see this one in the picture above. Just by adding these simple ingredients you give the Tamago-Kake-Gohan a more interesting flavour.

But sesame seeds and spring onions are obviously not the only options. Throughout my stay in Japan, I encountered many other variants.

For example, my host father liked topping TKG with furikake. Furikake can literally be anything that adds flavour to something but it’s best described as “flavour sprinkles”. I don’t have a picture of Furikake on top of TKG but here are some of furikake on normal white rice:

Small Fish "Swimming" in the Raw Egg Sea

When I first encountered these small white fish, I didn’t actually realise that I was eating small fish. I didn’t speak any Japanese at the time and just pointed on some random item on the menu. The waitress who could barely speak any English said “rice” and made a gesture suggesting that it was a bowl. Also, I must say that I wasn’t wearing my glasses. So, when the meal finally came I only saw the green Nori and what I thought those white fish were rice. I guess I was a bit tired…

Because honestly, who would expect a bowl filled with small white fish?? Whatever, when I finished eating, I looked back into the bowl and saw a small fish. Only then did I realise what I had just eaten. The funny thing is, I even took a photo…

The second time I encountered them was together with Tamago-Kake-Gohan. And again did I almost miss the small white fish. But this time I spotted them. Those little fish with their small little eyes. How do they even catch them?

Whatever, what I actually wanted to say is that the Japanese like eating Tamago-Kake-Gohan with small white fish. Apparently, they’re called shirasu, but yeah, they’re small white fish.

To be fair they taste pretty good. But I didn’t take a picture, sorry 🙁

Why the Japanese Eat Raw Eggs

The Japanese eat raw eggs because they taste very good and because in Japan eating raw eggs is safe. Eggs also have many nutrients, they are fairly cheap and preparing a raw egg is indeed pretty easy.

This should be pretty obvious, shouldn’t it?

In this article, I only talked about the most prominent Japanese raw egg dish: Tamago-Kake-Gohan. But there are many others. Some honourable mentions include sukiyaki, udon-noodles, soba-noodles and many hot-pot-style dishes.

Thanks for Reading

I hope you have learned something about the simple but delicious Tamago-Kake-Gohan and also why the Japanese eat raw eggs.

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