osaka-style okonomiyaki


think of pancakes, only made from cabbage.  no wait… maybe think of an omelet, only the filling is mixed in.  er…  hang on…

nevermind.

it is delicious.  okonomiyaki is frequently referred to as “savory japanese pancakes,” but that confuses more than it helps.  the bottom line is, you have to try it for yourself.  although the ingredients can be a little tricky, it is easy as pie to make.  or… easy as pancakes.  or something.

there are two general schools of okonomiyaki.  the first is from hiroshima, in which one okonomiyaki is topped with a pile of yakisoba, a fried egg, and a sandwich is made by placing another okonomiyaki on top.  because i try not to ingest meals that are 100% carbohydrates, i generally go with the osaka school of thought.

you’ll need:

  • about 5 eggs
  • ground meat (i prefer pork of course)
  • green onions
  • half a head of cabbage
  • black pepper
  • yamatoimo or nagaimo
  • dashi (japanese fish stock)
  • katsuo-bushi
  • nori
  • mayonnaise
  • okonomiyaki sauce
  • flour
  • half an onion
  • bacon or thinly sliced pork

 

  1. get an oroshi board or a microplane and grind the nagaimo in a circular motion.  word to the wise: don’t touch it.  the texture is going to be kind of snotty and weird and white, and you might be tempted to sample the texture, but if you get it on your hands or your mouth in this form, you will become really dang itchy.  don’t ask me why the japanese decided that any food that most people have an allergic reaction to upon touching is edible, but trust me, without it your okonomiyaki just won’t have the same fluff to it.
  2. add your ground nagaimo to a large mixing bowl.  slice your cabbage as thin as possible and add that as well.  mix in your ground meat, eggs, black pepper, dashi, and only about three or four spoons of flour, and finely minced onion.  stir well, and set aside covered in the fridge.  letting your flavors set will go a long way in this situation.
  3. once the flavors are done setting, lightly oil a frying pan and get it to about medium heat.  it is important not to cook okonomiyaki on too high of a temperature, otherwise it will burn before it gets cooked all the way through.  add a ladleful of the batter, level it out, and cover it.
  4. let it cook until the side facing up is just a little bit wet, and then place two or three slices of bacon on top.  cover and give it about one or two minutes to stick on.  now comes the tricky part.
  5. the flip.  i highly advise using at least one spatula, and if your frying pan is big, you might want to use a second.  flip it over so the okonomiyaki is bacon side down, and cover for a few minutes.
  6. during the wait, mix together the sauce.  half okonomiyaki sauce and half mayonnaise works perfectly.  open the pan, spread a healthy portion of sauce on, and then slide the beast of a “cabbage pancake” onto a plate.  cut it into quarters using the edge of your spatula.
  7. cut a sheet of seaweed into thin ribbons using scissors, and chop your green onions nice and fine.  top the okonomiyaki with seaweed ribbons, katsuo-bushi, and green onions in that order.
  8. get some garters on, because you are about to have your socks knocked off.

goes excellent with:

beer.  salty and savory and made to be shared with friends means that okonomiyaki is second to none amongst drinking snacks.  whip a few of these guys up when you have friends over.  it is a quick snack, especially if the batter is already waiting in your fridge.  trust me, i’ve done it.

mugicha.  japanese style wheat tea may not sound that appetizing to those not acclimated to its flavor, but with a few ice cubes in a tall glass, there isn’t much that can hold a candle to this beverage in summer.  nutty and a little bit bitter, it has everything that a person needs to truly understand the meaning of the word “quenched.”

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