Okonomiyaki – Cabbage Squid Pork… Pancakes

For a bit of context – go here

This is an interesting spin by the Japanese on the pancake. Okonomiyaki roughly translates as “as you like it cooked” as there are a range of filling/toppings. This leads to it be wrongly imagined as “Japanese Pizza”. As a home cooking experience it really just stretches the parameters on pancakes but it’s much more interesting as an eating out experience. Many of the Okonomiyaki restaurants in Japan are do-it yourself. You sit down at a table with a metal hotplate in the middle, order from a range of the batter and ingredients mixes, and then cook it on the hotplate while drinking beer from big mugs. I know going to a restaurant and having to do the cooking is a little self-defeating but, then again, the Japanese also developed self-performed performances with Karaoke and made suicide and integral part of warfare.

Now we’re going to have to depart a bit from authenticity here. One reason is we don’t have a key ingredient – yamatoimo. Yamatoimo recently appeared as the surprise ingredient in Iron Chef last Saturday and is a kind of yam. Once ground down, it has almost no flavour, and the texture of phlegm. Another reason is that it’s a simple concept so it should be kept simple.

Batter: 1 cup plain flour; 1 cup of water (or weak dashi if you have it); 2 eggs; a little salt – mix as for any other batter. Adjust for consistency.

Things to add to the batter: chopped cabbage; chopped spring onions- greens & whites; corn – mix in with the batter but too much of these and it stops being battery and become more like batter coated vegetables and it’ll fall apart when cooked.

Features: chopped octopus and prawns are great but I used some chopped squid and some chopped pork – the fatty rib bits.

Heat up a frypan, with some vegetable oil, and then cook half a cup of squid, when it’s almost done, remove and then pour in some of the batter, and then scatter the squid on top. It should be ab out bread plate size and about 2cm thick.

Flip when cooked underside. Cook and then flip again. Smear some sauce* on top, cook for a little longer. Pop on a plate, and cut into pieces. Serve with more sauce and some mayonnaise on top and some crushed dried nori if you’ve got it.

Repeat with the pork and so-on until you’ve run out of stuff.

*The sauce is called Bulldog Sauce but you can make something similar with

1/4 cup of tomato sauce, 1.5 tbs Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 tsp Dijon Mustard, 1 tsp soy sauce

Heat gently, stirring, until it reaches a simmer and the remove from the heat.