Hot springs eggs and okra

This fabulous dish features hot springs eggs (onsen tamago) crowning a mixture of chopped okra and sliced white onions, all perched over soba noodles. Hot springs eggs are so called, naturally, because they’re supposed to be cooked in water from hot springs.

From what Yusuke tells me, egg yolks start to cook at 70 degrees (Celsius), while the whites cook at 90. So, since hot springs water is—ideally—65 degrees after the eggs cook for 30 minutes, the yolk is slightly cooked but the whites are soft. The whole process confuses me, but these two blog posts seem to confirm the story: http://epicureandebauchery.blogspot.com/2005/06/imbb-onsen-tamago-hot-spring-eggs.html and http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/17933.

Anyway, all of that to say that Yusuke made these eggs in the microwave, and despite a slight explosion, they still came out well.

The last garnish was bonito flakes and shichimi togarashi. To eat, we destroyed the lovely arrangement by mixing everything together in the bowl.

During the meal, Yusuke noted that the texture of the dish, particularly the okra, was ネバネバ (neba neba), roughly translated as slippery and sticky, but not quite slimey or nuru nuru ヌルヌル.

Japanese has lots of delightful mimetic (sound symbolic) words that are difficult to translate or categorize. They aren’t really adjectives, but they describe an overall feeling or sensation. One that I learned in my Japanese class is ドキドキ (doki doki), which conveys nervous excitement, as with a fast heartbeat. There are tons of websites out there with listings of these types of words, but there are examples here, here, and here (the last if you read hiragana and katakana). I also like くたくた (kuta kuta) for extreme tiredness and のろのろ (noro noro) for cars (or people?) who are crawling along slowly in traffic.

Of course, food-related expressions are the most important category of mimetic phrases! In addition to neba neba, I also like ピリ (piri) for the sting of wasabi and シコシコ (shiko shiko) for chewy noodles.

Just Hungry and the Japan Times have other food expressions for your onomatopoetic pleasure.

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3 Comments

  1. […] The centerpiece is a hot spring egg. […]

  2. […] other two soba toppings were boiled bean sprouts and hot springs eggs (20 seconds in the […]

  3. […] The cabbage went into big bowls, onto which the natto-okra mixture was poured, followed by hot springs eggs. […]

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