I’ve been trying to settle on a name for this dish over the past 2 years or so since I first started making it. Cooks can get pretty lazy when only cooking for themselves and start throwing things together, and that is how this recipe came to be. Still, the idea for this has its roots some 10 years ago and has gone through a few evolutions to get to this point, fairly unrecognizable from where it originated.
It started with a trip to an old friend’s for the weekend. She served omelettes for breakfast, the folded over kind, not the type with stuff cooked inside. She used salsa as a filler and topped it with cheese. I really liked the idea and would begin making this for my own friends on the weekends when I got home. But I found the salsa too sweet and not spicy enough and I began to meddle with it to add more of a flavor profile. An off-hand comment about how I’d found my comfort spot that it was spicy enough brought on scoffs from 2 friends that the dish didn’t even rate as spicy at all to them, merely well-seasoned. This kicked off a 3 month perpetual challenge to try and make the dish spicy enough for them to admit it was enough. After about 8 or 9 tries and being relentlessly mocked for my failures, I eventually succeeded in making one of them cry and kneel before me in defeat while the other decided to quit while he was ahead. What eventually did was using Jamaican peppers, about 50k on the Scoville scale, compared to jalapenos which are 10k.
The next iteration decided that salsa was simply too limiting as a base and I needed to re-envision the filling. Also, to reduce the amount of eggs used to the omelettes weren’t so massive. The filling became a mix of finely diced vegetables with some pepperoni tossed in for good measure. The eggs went from 3 to 1, making the omelette more like a crepe in thickness with a really thick filling gushing out. I also moved the cheese to the inside of the omelette. While this was a breakfast favorite, it required a lot of work and I simply couldn’t be bothered and stopped making it.
Enter the current evolution. During a point when I’d neglected to go food shopping, my pantry was rather bare. Necessity breeds invention. I always keep eggs in the house and had some leftover rice. I remembered my sister used to saute rice when we were young, albeit not very well. I remembered that it’s not unheard of to put scrambled eggs into fried rice. So, I sauteed the rice and cooked the eggs into it. The first test was bland, but worked as a proof of concept. It needed seasoning, and then later something other then rice to add body to the dish.
Since I like to cook large batches of food and work from leftovers, this starts with an assortment of diced/chopped (per preference) vegetables: about 1 pound of onion, 1 bell pepper, several cloves of garlic and 10 ounces of mushrooms. There’s half a can each of corn and beans to add more bulk to the dish, also fiber. There’s a single chicken breast filleted in half as well since I can be a meat-atarian at times and eating even just a bit of meat at a meal convinces me to feel full for longer. I still use day old rice, in this case 1.5 cups of brown rice (pre-cooked measurement). Fresh rice can go snap-crackle-pop when introduced to oil due to the extra moisture it has.
The chicken goes in the oven at 400* for 10 minutes on each side while the vegetables are cooked. I start with the onions and maybe a tablespoon of oil over low heat for several minutes to sweat out a lot of the moisture. I’ll add the seasoning in 2 stages. First, I add 2 teaspoons of salt (maybe a bit much but it’s covering the whole dish really and I need extra salt or my blood pressure gets too low), ½ teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes (more or less for personal preferences of spice), and 2/3 of a teaspoon each of oregano and basil (dried spices need time to hydrate so they go in early)
Once the onions have softened, maybe 5 minutes, I’ll add the bell pepper and garlic and turn up the heat to medium. After 2-3 minutes and the new additions begin to soften, I’ll add the mushrooms and the rest of the seasoning: 2/3 teaspoon of black pepper, 1 teaspoon of paprika and a packet of sazon. With the last addition, I’ll crack the heat up to high stir more often. Mushrooms like to soak up moisture initially, so the pan can get dry and there’s a risk of burning or things sticking briefly, before they release a ton more moisture back out. Once the moisture releases, I’ll add the corn and beans so they heat up. Continue to cook until the moisture is evaporated. There’ll be a tipping point when you can’t get more out without burning stuff, so that’s the point to stop and turn off the heat.
By this time, the chicken will be done in the oven. That gets diced once it cools. I could just sear the chicken in the frying pan, but I like the texture from baking better. If one were so inclined, removed the vegetables from the frying pan while there’s still liquid in the pan and use that as a flavoring and grease to cook the chicken with. In either case, once the chicken is diced, stir together the vegetables with the chicken and rice.
Ultimately, this combined mix shouldn’t be too moist, but fairly dry. The dry is important to the final product. Half of what makes this dish work is the texture, a crisp filling crossed with the softness of the eggs. A soggy filling never really gets crisp.
The finished mix.
This has been a fair amount of work up until this point, but obviously we’re not finished. This mixture is simply the base for the omelette, but it should be pointed out, you can stop here and call this a meal fine for lunch or dinner. It usually takes me an hour of prep work and cooking to get to this point. Not everyone wants to do this first thing in the morning. The first morning making this is annoying, but you can always complete up to this stage the day before (at which point, you can use fresh cooked rice since it’ll be day-old by the time you use it). My cooking style is more front-loaded work and then cooking with leftovers for the week, which works great to put in the effort on days off and not needing to cook much during the work week.
Once you have this base mixture, you can actually cook the omelette. There’s a few variations on how this recipe works from here based on how the recipe was tweaked, so I’ll cover the exact steps used in these pictures and cover variations after.
Set a 10 inch skillet over medium-low heat; on my stove it’s a setting of 2 out of 10. Add 1 teaspoon of your oil of choice. I often used bacon drippings from when my roommate cooks bacon, adds a hint of flavor. Let the pan heat up for a minute and swirl the oil around as evenly as possible. I use a heat-resistant spatula to help with this and the skillet I use has little divots on its surface which helps the oil stay in one place. Add about 2 cups of mixture to the pan and spread it out as evenly as possible across the whole surface. You want a thin surface of food to cover the pan, no more then ½ inch thick.
When the pan has reached the proper heat, you’ll hear gentle sizzling from the pan. From there, you’ll cook this for 2 minutes before flipping and cooking for another 1.5 minutes (if you’re using fresh mixture, take 30 seconds off the cook time for each side since the mix is already hot). The goal here is to get both sides to brown and become crispy. While this is going on, scramble an egg with 2-3 tablespoons of milk.
Once the mixture has been cooked on both sides, pour the scrambled egg into the pan and gently tilt the pan to ensure it reaches all the nooks and crannies. After about a minute, the egg should be set enough to flip and finish cooking. The second side only needs about 30 seconds to cook, and while that’s going on, top with shredded cheese ( I like using swiss). Turn off the heat and let it sit for a minute while the residual heat melts the cheese before serving.
Like any rice-based dish, there’s a lot of options available to tailor things to your taste. I like very specific vegetables and re-use them in all my cooking, but there’s no reason one can’t use other things like squash. I’ve used spinach before, and I’ll sub out the beans for it, but I don’t like how it seems to burn during the cooking. Corn is a odd choice to use, but I add it mostly for variety. One could use small amounts of carrot instead, the caveat being is the sweetness added can clash if overused, same as with the corn. I’ve even used cabbage before, which while serviceable does water down the flavor a bit.
Nowadays, I’ve weened myself off adding chicken to the dish, so it can be a vegetarian dish. I usually substitute in more beans to compensate. I’ve also toyed with using sausage, pepperoni and pork loin before. I don’t think ground meats work as they don’t mesh well with the texture or flavor.
Importantly, you don’t need to use brown rice, white is fine and in most respects works better. I try to do the whole healthy eating thing when I can, so I went with brown rice for a long time. Brown rice doesn’t brown up properly in the pan, as you can see from the picture above. White rice will brown and crisp up nicely. However, which rice you use changes the relationship to the eggs. Due to brown rice’s bran coating, a single egg goes farther and the milk is added to thin out and bulk up the mix just enough so it covers the bottom of the pan. White rice, without the bran coating, allows the rice to sponge moisture from the eggs, and so you’ll always need to use 2 eggs and skip the milk entirely.
If you feel the recipe as is makes too much food, it scales down fine to an 8 inch skillet. Scale down the amount of food accordingly, keeping to the principle you want enough to make a thin layer across the whole pan. If you’re using brown rice, 1 egg without milk is fine, and if it’s white rice, 1 egg with a dash of milk also works. You can also scale back the oil a bit as well when greasing the pan. Of course, there’s breakfast for 2, so you use a 12 inch skillet and scale accordingly.
A few last bits of advice about this dish. Treat the mixture as a hash when sauteing it over low heat. The goal is to dry the food out, which provides the crispy texture. Don’t worry about a golden brown crust as that’s never going to show through in the final result. If the mixture came out too moist initially, scramble it a bit after the initial cooking period and let it simmer more, just flip the mix every minute or so until it reaches the desired texture otherwise it’ll start to burn. The dish is resilient though, a little burning from waiting too long to flip won’t be that noticeable in the end. Lastly, experiment with it, there’s a lot of combinations you can do based on what ingredients you have to work with and how much effort you want to put in. At my laziest, I’ve just used rice and eggs. Sometimes I’ll buy frozen onions and peppers because I’m too lazy to chop fresh vegetables.