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

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