Do you know what is the equivalent of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for a Korean mom? Survey says: there’s no singular right answer, but rice and rolled omelet (gaeran mari) has got to be in the top 5 most packed lunches in South Korea. At least that’s what I’ve been told by relatives.
It’s time that the gaeran mari made its way to my table, albeit, for dinner, and with ham in it. I’ve seen my mom make it su-shi bun(Korean for all the time), and maybe that’s why I don’t make it as often as I should. I mean, when was the last time you made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner? But adding ham to gaeran mari makes it more compelling–that’s like slivers of banana in an ole fashion pb&j. Having the soft rolled omelet sit in a salty sweet broth rockets it to another level, like Elvis level and his favorite pb&j with banana and bacon. You can add a plethora of ingredients to gaeran mari and make it your own.
In terms of ingredients, it can’t get any simpler. I always have eggs, toasted seaweed and ham in my fridge. It has to be a hair-pulling, feet-stomping(and not in a good way) kind of week for me to have run out of eggs. Although the ingredients are basic, the technique is tricky. Think how the French scramble eggs, low and slow. Gaeran mari needs to be cooked on low heat so that the eggs stay tender, and you need to start rolling it before it sets on top. That way, the seams fuse and it doesn’t just unroll like an unruly sleeping bag. But once you master the technique–it doesn’t take too many tries–you’ll be serving them all the time. And they look incredibly artful on a plate. You’ll definitely get a ‘how did you do that’ look from your guests–unless your guests are a bunch of Korean women. Then, you’ll just have to wow them with the sauce.
Instructions are for righties. Reverse if you are left-handed. Tap on captions on the bottom of the images for step-by-step instructions.
I have to make a confession. I had to make two batches before I got a picture-perfect, mother-approved gaeran mari. Not that the rejects tasted bad, because they were quickly eaten by my ravenous teen, but they were a little too browned to make the cut.
- 6 eggs
- 1 package of toasted seaweed (memo-pad sized that are sold in many stores)
- Ham (1/2 c chopped finely)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tbs oil (vegetable or olive oil)
- 12 inch pan (preferably nonstick)
- Optional sauce: 1/2 c chicken broth, 1/2 tbs sugar, 1 1/2 tbs soy sauce
- Whisk together 6 eggs, chopped ham and salt.
- Have toasted seaweed ready to go.
- Heat pan on medium high with a 1/2 tbs. of oil. Get the pan hot before setting the heat to low. (Make sure the pan is not smoking.)
- Scoop 1 c of egg mixture into the pan. Swirl it so that it makes an even layer.
- As soon as the bottom of the omelet cooks, place 6 sheets of toasted seaweed on top of omelet in a single layer. If there is a little overlap, that is fine.
- Before the top of the omelet cooks fully, start to roll it from the right side(reverse if you're a lefty) with a spatula. Leave about a 1 inch edge unrolled on the left.
- Slide the omelet to the right of the pan, leaving the left side of the pan empty.
- Add a few drops of oil to the left side of the pan.
- Add 1/3 c of egg mixture to the left side of the pan, allowing it to run onto the 1 inch edge of the omelet. Add two more sheets of seaweed to the top.
- As soon as the bottom cooks, roll the omelet again towards the left, leaving another 1 inch edge. Slide omelet to the right of the pan again.
- Add a few more drops of oil, and pour remaining egg mixture to the left of the omelet.
- Add 2 more sheets of seaweed to the newly poured side.
- As soon as the bottom cooks, roll the omelet completely.
- You will need another spatula to help you move the omelet onto its side. Cook the omelet on its long opened end for a minute so that the egg completely sets. Do not overcook the omelet. You just want the edge to fuse a bit so it doesn't unravel.
- Remove the omelet and place on a cutting board.
- Cool the omelet completely before slicing. (You can even refrigerate and slice the omelet at a later time.)
- Sauce: Warm up chicken broth in the microwave for 30s. Dissolve sugar in the broth, and add soy sauce. You can serve sliced gaeran mari sitting in a thin pool of sauce.