Okonomiyaki

We’ve got another busdriv3r cookbook redemption! This time, he requested that we make something from Japanese Soul Cooking

I’m always down for Japanese food, and it was a tough decision! But one dish that I LOVE and will happily take any opportunity to make is okonomiyaki.

Okonomi means “how you like” and yaki means “grilled”, so okonomiyaki roughly translates to “grilled how you like”.

… which doesn’t really tell you what okonomiyaki is, does it.

Okonomiyaki is essentially a vegetable pancake. It usually is made up of cabbage and a batter, and often you’ll see pork belly or other meats or veggies layered in.

Sometimes you’ll see nagaimo used in okonomiyaki. Nagaimo is a type of yam, and when you shred it up it gets kind of gooey. That gets mixed into the batter. We won’t be using it today, but if you ever see it in a recipe now you know what it is.

Okonomiyaki is almost always topped with okonomi sauce, which is a worcestershire-based sauce and could be thought of a somewhere between A1 and a BBQ sauce. Then it’s drizzled with kewpie mayo, and sprinkled with aonori, which are seaweed flakes, and katsuobushi, which are shaved dried bonito flakes. You’ll also often see it served with beni shoga, which is the red pickled ginger strips.

So now that we know what okonomiyaki is – let’s cook!

We’ll start by making the batter. Two cups of regular, all-purpose flour go in a bowl.

Then add a cup of liquid. You could use water, but we’ll be using the dashi that Shrimpy made for us.

A teaspoon of salt.

And a teaspoon of baking powder, for fluffiness.

A couple teaspoons of sugar, to balance out the flavors.

Mix that all together.

And then the main ingredient. Chop up a head of cabbage – you’re looking to end up with one pound, or about 10 cups – and add that to the bowl.

Mix really well – about 30 seconds or so – until all the cabbage is coated in the batter.

Now we’re going to add four eggs, to bind it all together. Mix that another 15 seconds, until it’s all just combined.

Time to cook!

Preheat a nonstick or cast iron pan over medium-low heat until it’s nice and warm, then add in a tablespoon of sesame oil.

This recipe makes four okonomiyaki, so we’ll put a quarter of the batter in. Aim for a pancake about 6″ in diameter, and 1″ thick. Don’t press it down – we want a fluffy pancake!

Then we’ll add our meat. The recipe calls for pork belly, but since it’s a lot easier for me to get bacon than pork belly, I tend to use bacon for my okonomiyaki. It’s not the most traditional, since american-style bacon isn’t common in Japan, but it’s tasty nonetheless. Regardless, layer your meat on top of your okonomiyaki.

Cook the pancake for 3 minutes, then flip it so the bacon side is down. Cook that for another 5 minutes, then flip again. Two more minutes so everything sets, and your first okonomiyaki is ready to eat!

Repeat with the other three pancakes, and then…

Drizzle with okonomi sauce.

Drizzle with kewpie mayo.

Sprinkle with some aonori.

And don’t forget the bonito flakes!

Cut it into quarters, and your okonomiyaki is ready to serve!

Osaka-Style Okonomiyaki

from Japanese Soul Cooking

Ingredients
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup dashi or water, cold or at room temperature
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 lb cabbage, coarsely chopped (about 10 cups)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
  • 8 oz fresh pork belly or bacon, sliced
  • 1/4 cup okonomi sauce
  • 1/4 cup kewpie mayonnaise
  • 4 tsp aonori
  • 1/4 cup katsuobushi
Cooking Directions
  1. To make the batter, mix together the flour, dashi, salt, baking powder, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the cabbage to the batter and mix well for at least 30 seconds, until all the cabbage is coated. Add the eggs and mix, lightly this time, for about 15 seconds, or until the eggs are just combined with the cabbage.
  2. Preheat a nonstick or cast-iron skillet for at least 5 minutes on medium-low heat. Turn the heat up to medium, and add 1 tbsp of the sesame oil, making sure to coat the entire surface of the skillet. Cook the okonomiyaki in batches. Spoon the cabbage and batter mixture into the skillet to form a pancake about 6″ in diameter and 1″ thick. Don’t push down on the cabbage; you want a fluffy pancake. Gently lay about 1/4 of the pork belly slices on top of the pancake, trying not to overlap.
  3. Cook the pancake for about 3 minutes. Use a long spatula (a fish spatula is ideal) to carefully flip the pancake, so the side with the pork belly is now facing down. Gently press down on the pancake with the spatula (don’t push too hard, you don’t want batter spilling from the sides). Cook for about 5 more minutes, then flip the pancake again, so the side with the pork belly is now facing up. (If the okonomiyaki comes apart when you flip it, don’t worry; use a spatula to tuck any stray ingredients back into the pancake.) Cook for about 2 more minutes. When it’s ready, the pancake should be lightly browned on both sides, the pork cooked through, and the cabbage inside tender.
  4. Transfer the pancake to a plate, pork side up, and add the toppings. Squeeze about 1 tbsp of the okonomi sauce onto the pancake, in long ribbons. Squeeze about 1 tbsp of kewpie mayonnaise onto the pancake, also in long ribbons. Sprinkle about 1 tsp of aonori over the pancake. Sprinkle about 1 tbsp of katsuobushi over the pancake. Cut the pancake into quarters and serve immediately.
  5. Repeat with the remaining 3 tbsp oil and pancake batter.

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