Ask Peter: How to make the perfect omelette
Please can you tell me how to cook a perfect omelette? I can cook most things but these always end up scrambled. Is it the pan? The heat? The recipe? Bell
Considering how few ingredients an omelette has, it’s amazing how many recipes are out there to “make the perfect omelette”. In its purest French form, all you need do for 1 omelette is beat 3 eggs with a little salt and pepper (using a fork) until the yolks and whites are almost amalgamated.
Prick the yolks before beating them as this makes them break down quicker. Place a good knob of butter in a suitable pan (more on this later) over medium-high heat. Once it’s melted and has begun to sizzle, add the eggs and count to 10.
Using the fork (or a spatula if the pan is non-stick) move the set outer rim of the egg into the centre and drag the uncooked centre out to the side — shaking the pan to level the mixture. Do this again. Lay your filling, if you’re having one, along the middle while the centre is still a little runny then carefully flip one half over on to the other. The eggs will keep cooking a little more so don’t worry that you’ll be serving a lot of raw egg. Slip on a hot plate and eat.
Now, here’s where my variations begin to come into place. Depending on what my filling might be, I always add a teaspoon of water to my eggs (it’s just a personal thing), or I’ll add fish sauce or tamari (wheat-free soy sauce) and not add salt.
I first saw this happening in Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand where the most delicious omelettes are made (sorry France). Fresh oysters are laid on top along with tonnes of sliced spring onions and tapioca starch mixed into water to a paste.
The resulting omelettes have a lovely crunchy chewy texture streaked through from the tapioca slurry, the oysters stay moist and briny, and the spring onions add a lovely freshness and subtle crunch.
In Chiang Mai they make huge omelettes then break them up as you order them into uneven portions. I make them as individual omelettes with the fish sauce (allow 1 tsp per 3 egg omelette) and lay picked crab, diced mango and shredded coriander on top before folding in half.
When we opened the first Sugar Club restaurant in Wellington in 1986, I filled them with chunks of avocado, torn basil and smoked eel — a fabulous combination.
I also mostly cook them in a mixture of butter and extra virgin olive oil as I love the flavour of olive oil — and this will produce a more savoury, less rich omelette. You can also add some sesame oil to the pan. Other fillings can include mixed cheese — use something salty, something soft and melty, and something sharp — so a feta, mozzarella and blue would work well.
Halved cherry tomatoes, tonnes of picked tarragon and basil, and some feta is also good, as is chopped crispy fried bacon mixed with a spicy chilli relish and peas.
The ideal pan for me is a non-stick 18-20cm one for individual omelettes. There are so many on the market these days, so take your pick — but a high sided one will make it harder to slip the omelette out easily.
In my apprenticeship days I used to have a fabulous metal pan, with a 1cm high rim. It had been well-seasoned and was pretty much non-stick, but an over eager flatmate used it to fry some sausages or similar then washed it and scoured it, which made it totally unsuitable for omelettes as the eggs then stuck to the pan. If you have a good pan, do look after it.
Get Laurie Black's recipe for herb and creme fraiche omelette here
In our Ask Peter series, executive chef Peter Gordon answers your curly culinary questions. If you're stumped over something food-related, send your question to [email protected] and keep checking in for answers. You can read more on Peter on his website, have a read of his Ask Peter articles or check out his recipes on our site.