Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Okonomiyaki (Japanese Savoury Pancake)

Another inspiration from my amazing Flavour Thesaurus, with guidance from one of my favourite food blogs and a helpful Japanese cooking info page. This time I was reading the underwhelming-sounding 'cabbage and egg' section. Turns out the Japanese have a long tradition of making these gorgeous savoury pancakes with a range of different ingredients, but almost-always including shredded cabbage as the base. And since cabbage was on my list of 'cheap veg at the market this week', I have a whole head to use up. I made up the money saved buying the cabbage by buying beautiful katsuobushi, the dried bonito flakes that 'dance' in the convection currents generated by the hot pancake. I also made my own okonomiyaki sauce, which meant I had to buy ketchup for the first time in my life. Oh well - maybe when winter rolls around I'll deep-fry some potato chips. Or, more likely, I'll just make these again, because they were AMAZING! Even easier to flip than Korean pancakes, less fiddly than fried veggie fritters, and absolutely divine in flavour. I think it's worth putting in the extra effort to make the sauce, and track down the katsuobushi and wakame (dried seaweed).

What is so exciting about this seaweed??
For the pancake: 
  • 1/4 white/green cabbage
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup room-temperature dashi stock (substitute seafood stock, or vegetable stock, or even water)
  • 1 cup plain flour

For the toppings:

  • 2tbsp ketchup (tomato sauce)
  • 2tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 50g katsuobushi (fine bonito flakes)
  • a small handful of wakame (dried seaweed)
Japanese pancake on the barbie.
Now that's what I call fusion food :)
Shred the cabbage, grate the carrot and finely slice the spring onions. Combine with the egg, stock and flour in a large mixing bowl. Get a bbq hot plate nice and hot and brush generously with oil. When you can see it start to shimmer, plop the mixture onto the hotplate and push down and smooth out to make a pancake or two (how many depends on your confidence in your ability to flip them!). Close the lid and bbq for 5-10 minutes, until crisp and golden on the bottom, and cooked through enough not to fall apart when you lift the edges with a spatula. Flip onto the other side and cook for a further 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and sugar in a small bowl, to make the okonomiyaki sauce. Put the mayonnaise in a small plastic bag with the corner cut off, or piping bag, if it's not in a squeezy bottle already. When the pancake is nearly done, turn off the heat and brush the top surface with the okonomiyaki sauce. Pipe on the mayonnaise in long lines, or whatever pattern you like. Tip on the katsuobushi and scatter with a handful of wakame. Serve hot off the grill, with the bonito flakes dancing to their tasty song :)

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