Thursday, July 16, 2009

Okonomiyaki--It's delicious cabbage goodness, people to describe okonomiyaki? I've heard it called both a Japanese pizza and a Japanese pancake, though neither of those does it justice. It is this utterly delicious Japanese dish that would really catch on around the world if only someone could figure out how to explain it to people. It's mostly cabbage, mixed with scallions and batter, topped with anything your heart desires and cooked on a griddle. My favorite add-ins are cheese and mochi (chewy rice cakes), and K likes pretty much any kind of meat and cheese on his. The very best part is okonomiyaki sauce, which is the brown sauce in the picture above, and Japanese mayonnaise. It's heaven on a plate, and I'd like to share it with the world.

Buu's Up, located just outside of Kyoto, is the restaurant where I first fell in love with okonomiyaki.

They served up this tasty griddleful of cabbage, and my life would never be the same.

Here's the recipe K and I use to make okonomiyaki at home, but let me just say, the sauce makes it. We buy our okonomiyaki sauce, but the cookbook includes a recipe for it so it is possible to make your own. I'd recommend stopping by an Asian grocery and buying it. While you're there, get some Japanese mayonnaise because it's worth it. K and I use it all the time for topping sandwiches or for mixing with miso as a dip. The flavor is different than American mayonnaise.

Okonomiyaki (Osaka-style)

(recipe from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant cookbook, a seriously awesome cookbook)
**my notes are in italics**

1 sheet nori (about 8 x 7 inches)--This is an optional topping, but we didn't have any, so we left this out. We're all about convenience around here.

2 eggs
1 cup unbleached white flour
1 cup water
2 tablespoons sake
pinch of salt (optional)
2 cups shredded cabbage (1 1/2-inch strips)
1/4 cup shredded carrot (1 1/2 inch strips)--we left this out, too
4 whole scallions, cut in half lengthwise and into 1-inch strips (about 1 cup)--we substituted finely diced onion

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup cooked shrimp, cut in 1/2 inch pieces (or cooked crabmeat or seitan, thinly sliced)--we used cheese. Feel free to use anything you want--bacon, ham, mochi, etc.

Toast the nori by waving it over a flame until it stiffens slightly, but be careful--it burns easily. Crumble into little pieces and set aside.

Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Add the flour and water and continue beating until you have a batter the consistency of pancake batter. Add the sake and salt. Fold in the cabbage, carrots, and scallions. be sure to mix the batter and vegetables together evenly. Each okonomiyaki will use 1/4 of this mixture.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a standard 10-inch skillet. We used a griddle. Spoon 1/4 of the batter onto the hot skillet (like a pancake) making sure the vegetables are evenly distributed. Then sprinkle 1/4 of the shrimp, crabmeat, or seitan on top. We mixed the cheese directly into the batter. Cook each side on medium heat for 2 minutes, until lightly browned. Reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, for another 5 minutes, occasionally turning and gently pressing the okonomiyaki with a spatula. Prepare three more okonomiyaki as above. Keep the finished pancakes warm in a low oven while making the rest, or use two skillets and make two okonomiyaki at a time.

Serve hot with the sauce to taste--I recommend 1 tablespoon per okonomiyaki--and top with a sprinkling of toasted nori. Don't skimp on the sauce and be sure to squeeze some Japanese mayonnaise on this. Every place I ate okonomiyaki in Japan served it with sauce and mayo, not to mention a healthy serving of bonito flakes, which appear to dance when they hit the heat of the okonomiyaki. Dancing fish flakes weird me out. Check out the video below to see what I mean.

1 comment:

  1. I read this ages ago when you first posted it and drooled over this delicious creation that you were describing. We finally tried it recently and you weren't lying. It is amazing!


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