Monday, February 20, 2012

Cooked As You Like! Okonomiyaki

Although it seems odd to me to call it an exotic dish, okonomiyaki is a dish that is beyond even pronunciation for some! But it's actually a very easy dish to make, and it's not only tasty, but has plenty of healthy ingredients, especially the Chinese cabbage that gives it substance.

The name means, basically, 'cooked as you like'. It's a dish that often defies description to those who have never before had it, because essentially it is a cabbage pancake, with an added omelette dimension due to the fact that you can add whatever else you like to it. It really is to be made with things you like, and so it's easy to include any number of other ingredients as you cook your okonomiyaki. Be adventurous!

Cooked As You Like! Okonomiyaki


1 C tempura mix (or flour, sifted or whisked well, with 1 egg)
1 C cold water
1 egg
Chinese cabbage leaves (usually about 5-10 will do)
1 spoon instant mushroom stock (optional)

to taste:

sauce (see below)
mayonnaise (use a brand like Kewpie)
norikomi furikake, or shredded nori (optional)

1) Combine the tempura mix and water with a wire whisk until smooth. Chop the cabbage leaves very thin and then cut in halves or thirds. Add them to the batter and blend until incorporated.

2) Heat a small oiled frypan to medium-high heat. Once it is hot enough, pour the batter mixture into it and let it heat.

3) After a couple of minutes, break an egg and pour it atop the okonomiyaki. Keep letting it cook.

4) After it has mostly cooked through, flip it. If you have trouble with flipping, see the Tips and Such section for help. On the side that now faces up, brush the sauce across the surface. Add mayonnaise and arrange to your liking. You can paint a design with a fine-tipped nozzle, or you can simply use a knife to make a marbled effect with the sauce. Add norikomi furikake or shredded nori, spread across the top.

5) After a few more minutes of cooking, slide from the pan onto a plate. Note that you will want to let it cook for long enough to cook the egg on the bottom, the yolk of which should break when it is flipped. Serve hot!

Okonomiyaki Sauce

Most ready-made okonomiyaki sauce unfortunately has fish elements added, or uses worcestershire sauce (which tends to have fish in it also) as a part of the ingredients. If you can find vegetarian worcestershire, simply use it in place of the last two ingredients.

2 spoons soy sauce
1 spoon sugar
1 spoon cornstarch (optional)
1 spoon garlic powder, or to taste
dash lemon juice or citrus zest

1) Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring until blended and slightly thickened.

2) Remove from heat and set aside.

Tips and Such

- If you're not comfortable with attempting to flip a potentially very messy food, here's an easy way to flip it. It works with omelettes and similar foods too, so it'll just be our secret if you use it!

Start heating a larger frypan a few minutes before you need to flip the food. When you need to flip it, take the larger frypan off heat and place it as tightly as possible over the small frypan. Lift both pans and then simply turn them quickly, so that the larger frypan is on the bottom. Remove the small frypan now on the top, and voila! You've just flipped your food.

- You can use vegetarian 'oyster' mushroom sauce if you don't want to fuss making your own okonomiyaki sauce. It's thick and spreads easily, and it sets off the mayonnaise perfectly. You can get this in most Asian groceries.

- For okonomiyaki, I recommend using a Japanese mayonnaise, or making your own. Kewpie is the brand most typically used for okonomiyaki, because of its light flavour and slight sweetness. It as well is found in most Asian groceries, and has a pleasant enough flavour to be used as a simple dip for vegetables or crackers, and used as a garnish where other mayonnaise tends to be too much. Kewpie is not oily or too sour, nor is it pungent. This makes it an ideal topping.

- If you want to add other things to the okonomiyaki, generally they're best added to the batter and mixed in. You can add all kinds of things, so don't be afraid to experiment and see what you like best in yours!

Above all, enjoy yourself! Okonomiyaki is a delicious and extremely simple food to make. It's especially good if you have to cook something quickly that is satisfying and nutritious. After you've made it once, you'll be able to whip it up in no time!

};) Dhiar <3

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Quick and Dirty Chickpea Sandwiches

Sometimes one gets in the mood for a fulfilling meal that doesn't take long and doesn't require many ingredients. For those times, I recommend this lovely recipe. It only takes a few minutes, it doesn't need many ingredients, and it's so delicious!

Quick and Dirty Chickpea Sandwiches


1/2 can chickpeas
4-5 spoons crushed tomatoes
1 spoon butter, margarine, or oil of your choice
1/2 tsp sugar, or to taste
adobo seasoning, to taste
ground pepper, black or Szechuan, to taste
chipotle powder, to taste (optional)
buns or bread

1) In a frypan, melt the butter (or oil, or whatever you use) and place the buns down in it, to cook over medium-high heat. You basically pull the buns apart and toast the insides, where you put the main sandwich. Cook until they are a little crispy, then set aside on your plate.

2) Place the tomatoes in the pan, and add the chickpeas. Using a potato masher, partially mash the chickpeas until the mixture is at a desired consistency. Add seasonings and stir to combine. Cook for 5 or so minutes, until hot and mixture is blended.

3) Serve hot, with fixings of your choice!

Tips and Such

- These are great as a distinctive sort of 'sloppy joe' type sandwich. You can top them with cheese, or even add other vegetables like onions and peppers to the mixture. It's a very versatile recipe that allows a great amount of customisation.

- Because of their nature, these sandwiches work best on buns. Whole grain buns complement the flavour perfectly, and they add another healthy element to the dish.

You should definitely try this marvellous recipe! It takes virtually no time at all, and it's so, so delicious! It's not a junky fast food meal...but it has all the taste of something decadent and sinful. Treat yourself to a pair of these delightful sandwiches today!

};) Dhiar <3