In cuisine, an omelette or omelet is a dish made from beaten eggs quickly cooked with butter or oil in a frying pan, sometimes folded around a filling such as cheese, vegetables, meat (often ham), or some combination of the above. To obtain a fluffy texture, whole eggs or sometimes only egg whites are beaten with a small amount of milk or cream, or even water, the idea being to have "bubbles" of water vapour trapped within the rapidly cooked egg. Some home cooks add baking powder to produce a fluffier omelette; however, this ingredient is sometimes viewed unfavourably by traditionalists.
The fluffy omelette is a refined version of an ancient food. According to Alan Davidson, the French word omelette came into use during the mid-16th century, but the versions alumelle and alumete are employed by the Ménagier de Paris (II, 5) in 1393.Rabelais (Pantagruel, IV, 9) mentions an homelaicte d'oeufs, Olivier de Serres an amelette, François Pierre La Varenne's Le cuisinier françois (1651) has aumelette, and the modern omelette appears in Cuisine bourgoise (1784).
According to the founding legend of the annual giant Easter omelette of Bessières, Haute-Garonne, when Napoleon Bonaparte and his army were traveling through southern France, they decided to rest for the night near the town of Bessières. Napoleon feasted on an omelette prepared by a local innkeeper that was such a culinary delight that he ordered the townspeople to gather all the eggs in the village and to prepare a huge omelette for his army the next day.
On March 19, 1994, the largest omelette (128.5 m²; 1,383 ft²) in the world at the time was made with 160,000 eggs in Yokohama, Japan, but was subsequently overtaken by another, weighing 2,950 kilograms (6,500 lb), made by the Canadian Lung Association at the Brockville Memorial Centre in Brockville, Ontario, Canada on May 11, 2002. In turn, that record was surpassed on August 11, 2012, by an omelette cooked by the Ferriera do Zêzere City Council in Santarém, Portugal. This record breaking omelette weighed 6,466 kilograms (14,255 lb), and required 145,000 eggs and a 10.3 metre diameter pan.
A Denver omelette, also known as a Southwest omelette or Western omelette, is an omelette filled with diced ham, onions, and green bell peppers, though there are many variations on fillings. Often served in the Southwestern United States, this omelette sometimes has a topping of cheese and a side dish of hash browns or fried potatoes.
The French omelette is smoothly and briskly cooked in an extremely hot pan specially made for the purpose. The technique relies on clarified butter (to ensure a high smoke point) in relatively great ratio to the eggs (prevents sticking and cooks the eggs more quickly). Good with just salt and pepper, this omelette is often flavored with tomato and finely chopped herbs (often fines herbes or tarragon, chervil, parsley and chives) or chopped onions. They can be rolled out in a trifold design or just simply slid out of the pan directly into a plate and, when made correctly, have little to no colour to them. In France, omelettes are often made "With cheese" (This translates to "Omelette au fromage" in French).
A Greek omeleta consists of pan-fried or sautéed vegetables, pastas, or leftovers over which beaten eggs are poured to act as a binder. It is then cooked with a plate over the top, flipped onto the plate, and slid back in to cook the other side. Unlike many of the other omelette styles, the Greek omeleta is more often used to showcase leftovers or fresh ingredients rather than to emphasise the eggs.
A Biscuit omelette (also omelette soufflé) is made with beaten egg-white carefully mixed under the yolks, and often a little amount of flour and sugar. Usually, this kind of omelette gets folded in half and has a sweet filling.
A Bauernomelette (farmer's omelette) is popular in Southern Germany and Austria. In a pan, diced onions, pieces of boiled potato and smoked bacon (called Speck) get roasted, then the beaten eggs are poured over and it gets cooked until ready. It can include herbs, mushrooms, tomatoes or cornichons.
A frittata is a kind of open-faced Italian omelette that can contain cheese, vegetables, or even leftover pasta. Frittata are cooked slowly. Except for the cooking oil, all ingredients are fully mixed with the eggs before cooking starts.
An Indian omelette, often called a Masala omelette, is usually made with the addition of spices, which vary by region. Those most commonly used are finely chopped green chilies, chopped onions, coriander leaf or powder, cumin and a pinch of turmeric, all of which are added to the egg before it is whisked. An exception to this is the tomato omelette, which doesn't contain egg, but is called an omelette simply because of its resemblance to an omelette.
In the United Kingdom, omelettes are traditionally made with cheese, milk and eggs; and often, when cooked on one side, instead of folding, they are flipped to cook the other side before serving.
In Japan, tamagoyaki is a traditional omelette in which eggs are beaten with mirin, soy sauce, bonito flakes, sugar and water, and cooked in a special rectangular frying pan. The omelette is cooked by frying a thin layer of egg mixture and then rolling it up quickly with a pair of chopsticks to form a sausage shape in one end of the pan. Another thin layer of egg is then added to the bottom of the pan and is again rolled, with the original rolled, cooked egg at the centre, over to the other end of the pan. This is repeated until all the egg has been used up, resulting in a dense cylindrical omelette containing many thin layers. This is then squeezed into a rectangular or circular cross-section using a sushi mat, and sliced into segments for serving. Omelette (pronounced omuretsu) can mean a Western omelette. Omurice (from the English words "omelette" and "rice") is an omelette filled with rice and usually served with a large amount of tomato ketchup. Omu-soba is an omelette with yakisoba as its filling.
In Thai cuisine, a traditional omelette is called khai chiao (khai meaning "egg", and chiao meaning oil-fried), in which the beaten egg mixture is deep fried in a wok filled with 1-2 cups of vegetable oil and served over steamed rice. The dish is usually served with Sriracha sauce. A variation on this dish is khai chiao songkhrueang, where the plain egg omelette is served together with a stir-fry of meat and vegetables. Yet another type of Thai omelette is kai yat sai, literally "eggs filled with stuffing".
Telur dadar is a flat, omelette-style side dish usually eaten with rice, consisting of eggs pan-fried with chillies and onions. Can be found in Malaysia and Indonesia.
In the Philippines, the term for omelette is torta - not to be confused with the Mexican torta (sandwich), Italian torta (pie) or the Spanish torta (cake). Generally served for breakfast, countless fillings are used including onions, garlic, tomatoes, corned beef, potatoes, bell peppers, raisins and possibly leftovers from the previous day's meal, like grilled eggplant, ground, chopped or shredded pork and beef. It is eaten by itself or served with garlic fried rice and banana ketchup on the side.
The Matzah brei is a well-known Ashkenazi Jewish variation that relies on mixing a crumbled Matzo into the beaten egg before frying. This results in a much crispier, heavier omelette. The use of milk is optional, and many Matzah brei recipes are, in fact, 'sweet' (thanks to adding sugar). Sides and toppings differ widely depending on local customs, especially in Israel where the Jewish ethnic groups have adapted this recipe to suit their own cuisines.