I’m thinking it’s about time I posted a Japanese recipe. I’m not sure why it has taken me this long to post something Japanese given it’s probably my favourite cuisine. What matters is that I’m doing it now and I plan to post more of them in the future.
I’ve chosen one of my favourite Japanese dishes to kick this off – Okonomiyaki. Okono…what? No, not a Japanese pizza or a pancake or whatever else people try and compare it to, it’s just an okonomiyaki. I remember my mum used to make these for us as a treat or when she wanted to use up random things in the fridge. Originally from the Kansai (Osaka) area in Japan, this is a savoury dish generally made with a base of cabbage (ok, I know I’m not selling it here, but stick with me) mixed with a batter with various ingredients added. All you really need to know is that it is damn tasty and if you’ve never tried one, chuck this on your bucket list.
Okonomiyaki in Japanese means ‘as you like’ or ‘what you like’. So based on this translation when it comes to flavouring the okonomiyaki you can be as creative as you like….Some ingredients that you will find in an okonomiyaki in Japan are pork/bacon, octopus, squid, prawn, vegetables and cheese but feel free to put in things that you really like.
Recipes for the okonomiyaki batter vary widely but the good thing is that it is generally pretty easy to make substitutes if you don’t have access to a Japanese supermarket and I’ll make notes in the recipe of what you can subsitute. The important thing I believe is that the filling shouldn’t be swimming in the batter, it should just be lightly coated otherwise the end result will be really doughy.
I’ve also chosen to make my own okonomiyaki sauce but that’s just because I had the ingredients on hand. The sauce is soooo good, I could almost drink it and I’ve probably attempted to do so in the past. You can buy ready made okonomiyaki sauce and it’s really great so don’t feel like you have to make it from scratch.
Please please please give this a go, especially if you’ve never had one, I promise you, you will be in for a flavour sensation!
Makes 2 large okonomiyaki enough for 2 for a main meal. You could make smaller ones if you prefer.
What you need:
- 1/4 cabbage – I’ve made it with both green cabbage and chinese cabbage. Both are fine but I prefer the green cabbage.
- 1 cup okonomiyaki flour – substitute plain all-purpose flour
- 1 cup water
- 2 tsp dash granules (optional) – this is a Japanese stock powder that will just provide more flavour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/3 cup tenkasu – these are deep-fried bits of flour dough used as a flavouring ingredient that look like rice bubbles (optional)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 eggs
- 3 spring onions, chopped finely
- 4 shiitake mushrooms, diced (optional)
- 4 large raw prawns, chopped into small chunks
- 4 slices of thinly sliced pork belly
- vegetable oil
For the sauce: (adapted from recipe book ‘a little taste of…Japan’)
- 60ml tomato sauce/ketchup
- 2 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp cooking sake
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 1 1/2 tbsp caster sugar
- 2 tbsp Japanese rice vinegar
- 2 1/2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
For a more simple version just use 3tbsp of tomato sauce/ketchup, 1 tbsp worcestershire and 1 tsp soy sauce
- Japanese kewpie mayo (this stuff rocks, but if you can’t find it, use whole egg mayo, but it does taste different)
- katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
- aonori (seaweed flakes)
What to do:
Mix flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a bowl. Dissolve the dashi granules (if using) in a splash of boiling water then fill to 1 cup with cold water. Whisk the dashi stock slowly into the flour mixture. Let it sit while making the sauce and preparing the other ingredients.
Mix all the ingredients for the sauce with 2 tbsp of water and bring to a boil, let it simmer for about 10 mins or until it thickens. Set aside.
Finely chop the cabbage and mix with the spring onion, mushrooms and prawns.
Add the eggs and the tenkasu to the batter and mix well.
Add the cabbage mixture and mix well.
Oil a non-stick pan and put half the mixture in. Using a spatula, push it into a circular shape around 3cm thick. Place the strips of pork belly on top. If you have some batter pooled in the bottom of the bowl of the cabbage mixture, spread a little of the pork belly strips. It will help secure it to the okonomiyaki.
Cover the pan and let it cook for 5 mins. Time to flip…
The easiest way I’ve found is to use a couple of spatulas to gently lift it onto a plate. Then in one swift move, flip the plate over and the okonomiyaki should be cooked enough to stay together when you flip it onto the other side. Cover and cook for another 10mins.
Pop the okonomiyaki on the plate, spread the okonomi sauce, drizzle with the mayo and sprinkle with the aonari (seaweed) and katsubuoshi.