Tenshinhan is a delicious dish made up of a fluffy crab meat omelette served on a mountain of rice and then drizzled with a glossy sweet vinegar sauce. Not only is it extremely tasty, but it's super easy to make too!
Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. Sudachi Recipes earn a small percentage from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. See disclaimer for more info.
Tenshinhan (天津飯) is a Chinese-influenced Japanese dish. Delicious omelette made with imitation crab and shiitake mushrooms served on a bed of rice and then coated in a thick glossy sweet vinegar sauce. It has some similarities to Chinese egg foo yung.
Although tenshinhan is a popular dish that can be found in any Chinese restaurant across Japan, many Japanese people don't realise that it's not true Chinese food. In reality, it's actually a Japanese creation!
History of Tenshinhan
There are a few theories about the origin of Tenshinhan, but it is believed to have started when crab meat was mixed with eggs and baked, then served over rice during the food shortage after WWII.
During this time, the Chinese city of Tainjin (天津) was known for its high quality rice and it became popular to serve crab omelette on top of "tenshin rice". "Tenshin" is how the Chinese characters are read in Japanese.
As for the roots of the birth of Tenshinhan, there are two theories. One is the dish was created in a restaurant called "Raizen" in Tokyo, the other is from "Taisho-ken" in Osaka.
In fact, tenshinhan has slightly different sauce depending on the region. Tokyo style is more like sweet and sour sauce and the contains rice vinegar, whereas Osaka style is more savory and swaps the vinegar for sake. My recipe is Tokyo style.
Ingredients used in tenshinhan
Other than the eggs needed to make omelette, other common ingredients for tenshinhan include crab meat, green onions, salt, and green peas...etc
However, real crab meat is an expensive ingredient so for home cooking, we tend to use imitation crab (crab sticks) instead. It also makes the dish more colourful. It's also fine to use canned crab if you prefer.
To make the tenshinhan, simply mix the egg with the other ingredients and then pour the mixture into a wok over a medium-high heat. Mix it quickly, and when the mixture is half-cooked, shape it into a circle. You should use a pan that is roughly the same size as your serving dish.
The key to making delicious tenshinhan is to make a crispy base and a soft, half-cooked inside. (Of course, how cooked you like your eggs depends on preference, but true tenshinhan should be fluffy and moist!)
Tips for making the perfect tenshinhan
Tenshinhan is a quick and easy dish, but here are a few techniques to follow to make it fail-proof!
Order of cooking is important
For tenshinhan, you should cook the rice in advance and the most efficient way is to use a rice cooker. If you don't have a rice cooker, check out my post "how to cook Japanese style rice on the stove".
I often freeze leftover rice and microwave it when I want to eat, using frozen rice to make tenshinhan makes the whole process so quick and easy!
If you cook the eggs first, the residual heat will continue to cook the eggs and make them hard so I recommend cooking the eggs last.
Serve the cooked rice in a bowl, make the sauce, and then finally cook the eggs to finish the dish.
Basically, cooking the egg should always be the last step!
Adding mayonnaise to egg mixture
Mayonnaise helps to reduce the protein binding caused by heating the eggs, preventing them from hardening and making the eggs fluffy.
To me, fluffy omlette is the most important element for this dish!
Half-cook the egg
When it comes to cooking the egg mixture in this recipe, I purposely cook only on one side only so that the top will still be a bit runny.
That way, you can enjoy different textures on the bottom and top!
Check out our video for How to make homemade tenshinhanPrint
Other Chinese-Inspired Japanese dishes
Why not cook up a Japanese Chinese-inspired feast? Serve tenshinhan with some of these delicious recipes: