Saturday, September 6, 2008

Smile Oven - Tamago Pan

One of our local markets has been carrying a line of cheap baked goods under the brand name "Smile Oven". One of the items they offer is "tamago pan". "Tamago" means "egg" in Japanese and "pan" is a Portuguese loan word which means "bread". You can buy tamago pan in most markets that carry pre-packaged baked goods of some sort and at some convenience stores. A package of 5 of these cost a little over a dollar. Though it looks like a cookie, it's aptly named as "bread" since it's not particularly sweet.

Eating tamago pan is more about texture rather than taste. The ingredients are egg, sugar, flour, oil, and baking soda so none of the ingredients carry much flavor. The interior is tender, but dry. The part that you can savor is the outside shell which is satisfyingly crispy without being crumbly. I can't think of any sort of food which is similar in Western cuisine since "crisp" usually refers to a shell which is a lot harder than that on tamago pan.

Since I'm the sort of person who is more attracted to texture than taste, I find these very appealing. They are reminiscent of "melon pan" which also has a slightly crispy shell and soft interior. The main difference is that these are far less "bready" inside and a bit drier. These are excellent with tea or a sweet drink since they are a little bland on their own. Though these are cheap, they are by far the best tamago pan I've had in Japan.

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