Thursday, May 13, 2010

Oishii ne!

More bacony goodness! :D

This time we're making okonomiyaki, which is a Japanese dish made with shredded cabbage and batter. It's often compared to a pancake or pizza, since you can top it with just about anything and the name means "as you like it".

(Image from Wikipedia)

I first learned about this when I took Japanese in high school--we were very lucky to get something that wasn't Spanish, French, or German to learn--and Nagai-Sensei made sure that we learned all about Japanese culture in addition to grammar, vocabulary, and kanji.

Although I have not yet traveled to Japan, I'm lucky enough to have friends who have been there and know what kinds of ingredients to use. For example, my friend J. pointed out the "right" kind of sauce to get at United Noodle. This is about the largest and most well-stocked Asian food store in the Twin Cities area, so if you haven't been there yet, go check it out. (If you know the area, it's right by the Franklin neighborhood.) Even if you don't know what kinds of groceries to stock up on, you can also grab lunch there which is entirely worth it. You can get soups, donburi (rice-bowls topped with various goodies), and a host of other freshly-made and authentic dishes that won't break your wallet like an expensive specialty restaurant would.

And if nothing else, grab a package of frozen pork buns. One or two can be microwaved or steamed for a great quick lunch at home, work, or school and everyone comments on how good they smell! ;)

Okonomiyaki--my version
Please note that I go by feel on this... so feel free to change amounts so that it works for you. These are approximate amounts!

1 egg
1 cup Flour
Water or broth as needed
1 TB corn starch
1 cup finely shredded cabbage
Bit of thinly sliced onion (optional)

Toppings (up to you, but suggested):
Chopped green onion
Sliced mushrooms--button, portobello, or shiitake all work well
1-2 slices raw bacon or meat of choice
Little shrimps, raw or cooked
Okonomiyaki sauce (Otafuku brand if you can find it, recipe below if not)
Nori (sushi seaweed), finely sliced/shredded/chiffonade
Japanese-style mayo (trust me, "recipe" below)

Heat fry pan to medium-low heat.
Break egg into a bowl and whisk a bit with a fork. Dump in some of the flour and stir until egg is incorporated. Add cornstarch and some water or broth, whisk again. Keep adding flour until you have about 1/2 cup batter. Should be about cake-batter consistency.
Add shredded cabbage and stir. If you want a smaller one, use less cabbage and batter. Otherwise, add more flour and water/broth until there's enough batter to cover the cabbage with some left over to hold everything together. Add thinly sliced onion and stir in if desired.
Pour cabbage mixture into heated pan and spread out with a spatula. A thinner 'cake' will cook faster, but it should still be soft in the middle when done--about 3/4 in. is good.
As first side cooks, top 'cake' with sliced toppings: mushrooms, onion, meat, shrimps, or what have you. Flip when bottom is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Cook until meat is done and batter is set, another 3 to 5 minutes. It's ok if the middle is soft--this isn't a crispy dish.

Transfer to plate, and top with sauce, mayo, and nori if desired. Keep extra sauce handy and enjoy.

Okonomiyaki sauce recipe

Japanese style mayo:
you only need a little for one serving, the rest can be refrigerated for later.
2 big tablespoons regular American mayo (not Miracle Whip! It's different!)
White sugar
Rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar

Add sugar and vinegar to mayo so that it's sweeter and tangier, kind of like coleslaw dressing. It will get thinner, and that's ok.

And if you're vegetarian or have other dietary restrictions, feel free to change up the toppings. I don't know how this would work with gluten-free flours, so let me know how that works! ^^

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