Saturday, September 18, 2010

Okonomiyaki (Japanese style savory pancakes)

I can't believe I've been eating so much cabbage all summer and only just now remembered about okonomiyaki. Okonomiyaki was one of the most memorable things I ate when I went to Japan in 2002 - it's a pancake-like dish that is chock full of veggies and is served with a sweet BBQ-like sauce. It's a dish that's more informal, family fare, and it's not served in fancy restaurants... or Japanese restaurants in the U.S. for that matter.
Okonomiyaki with tonkatsu sauce, mayonnaise, and edamame

There's endless experiments and tweaks you could make... I'm pretty sure as long as I'm getting cabbage in the CSA I will be making this, and I will definitely try different veggies, flours, and I will try throwing some seafood in them at some point. But for now, here's a pretty basic version... I read/watched a few recipes out there (here, here, and best of all, here - just stumbled upon it but I love this show!!!) but ended up mostly just going by feel. The atypical parts of it are that I used half buckwheat flour - which I think worked great - and there's some Rice Krispies in there too cause some recipes call for tenkasu, and I didn't have any. I couldn't detect any Krispi-ness, I guess they don't quite hold up as well as tenkasu. For the sauce, I was missing about half the ingredients listed here so I just played it by ear and added stuff till it tasted delicious.

Also, here's the cabbage I used:

Funny looking, huh? I didn't know what it was called, so after a little googling I learned it's alternatively called "sweetheart cabbage," "caraflex cabbage," as well as my first guess, "pointy cabbage." It's milder and sweeter than normal green cabbage - I really like it and I think this is just about a perfect application for it since it doesn't get fully cooked. There were absolutely no bitter or sulfury tastes that you sometimes get with green cabbage.

Okonomiyaki - serves 2

1/4 c. ketchp
1.5 T. miso
2 T. mirin
1 clove garlic, minced finely
about 2 t. ginger, minced finely
1 t. hoisin sauce
A splash of vinegar (I used a chive flavored one, but any relatively neutral one would do)
A splash of Sriracha or hot sauce

1. Combine everything and simmer for about 20 minutes over low heat. Taste and adjust seasonings.

0.25 c. all-purpose flour
0.25 c. buckwheat flour
0.25 c. plus 1-2 T. vegetable stock - I diluted Better Thank Bouillion veggie stock base in some corn stock I made earlier this week. (Corn stock is made by just simmering water to cover a couple of corn cobs from which you've removed the kernels - I'll be using the rest for some corn chowder probably!)
1 egg
About 1/3 lb. cabbage (about 1/3 of a pointy cabbage), roughly chopped
3 T. green onions, chopped
1 T. ginger, finely chopped
1 small handful Rice Krispies
peanut oil

Serve with:
Furikake, nori or other seaweed, ripped apart if necessary, bonito flakes, bacon...
Edamame on the side (frozen, preferably in shells, cooked according to package directions)

1. Mix together the flours and the stock - use enough stock to make a very thick mixture. Then mix in the eggs.
2. Combine the cabbage, onions, and ginger, pour the flour mixture over the veggies, and lightly toss. Volume-wise, there's really more cabbage than batter, as you can see in the picture of it while it was cooking. If you want the ratio more in favor of bready goodness, you could just use less cabbage.
3. Heat a skillet or griddle over medium high. Oil it a little. Then pour the batter onto the griddle into two large, thick pancakes. You might think that it's too loose and will fall apart, but have faith. Use a spoon to shape the pancakes, and then cook for 4-6 minutes. Flip, and cook another 4 minutes or so.
After shaping, before flipping.
After flipping - nicely browned!

To serve, make an artsy grid of the okonomiyaki sauce vertically, and lines of mayonnaise horizontally. I tore up some nori sheets to put on top, and some edamame on the side (which I swear is not as good when they are out of the shells, but that's what I had!).  P.S - can you tell the pictures look different?  I got a new camera!  The cabbage pic was taken with the old one, the rest with the new.

1 comment:

  1. That pancake restaurant was the best! :-) I think I tried to make this dish at home once too. That is one funny looking cabbage :-)