Judging by the number of recipes and comments online about this Japanese snack, okonomiyaki is very popular. It is sometimes called a pancake, and sometimes nick-named “Japanese pizza.” It’s not a snack (at least not a small one), a pancake, nor a pizza. But it’s good.
For folk in the mid-west of the U.S., pancakes conjure images of thin, butter-y, pan-fried egg enriched rounds topped with maple syrup, sweet fruit sauce or jam. Or pannu kakku (Finnish oven pancake) if you lived in the UP.
Pizza brings to mind a platter-sized circle of yeast dough baked with toppings that usually include garlic/oregono seasoned tomato sauce, pepperoni, sausage, and lots of cheese. When I was growing up in the early ’60′s, pizza was made from a box, labeled “Gino’s Appian Way Pizza.” It was a kit which included a crust made by mixing water with an envelope of flour, baking soda, and salt, a sauce of salty (in lieu of spicy) canned tomato puree, and a packet of dried grated “parmesan cheese.” You added browned hamburger and mozzarella cheese. My first taste of the oh-so-exotic pizza was when I was in college and on a date with my first “real”boyfriend. Wow! That rich inviting smell that greeted us as we opened the door to the pizzeria meant LOVE!!!
In Japan there are quite a few regional variations for okonomiyaki, and I unintentionally came up with a new one. The recipe in my book for the batter called for 3 Tbs. of grated yama-imo (mountain yam). That is a name of several species(?) of a Japanese vegetable which is the tuberous root of a climbing vine. Naga-imo, icho-immo, yamato-imo, and jinenjo are other names for it. Grated mountain yam is used as a binder in many recipes because it is slippery and gluey. I think that is what you get when you buy soba noodles labeled as yam noodles. It is what you want for this Japanese stuffed pancake.
A small difference.
Japanese Stuffed Pancake
You can buy sauce for okonomiyaki, but Ms. Shimbo in my book gives a recipe for making it yourself. And it is very good.
- 1/4 cup tomato ketchup
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons Worchestershire sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon smooth French mustard
- 2 Tablespoons mirin
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon shoyu
In a small saucepan, combine these ingredients. Over medium heat, bring the sauce to a boil, then lower heat and cook for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- 1 cup Japanese cake flour
- 1 cup water or dashi
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 Tablespoons grated yama-imo, or 2 Tablespoons potato starch
Mix the batter in a suitable bowl. Divide into 2 bowls.
- 2-3 ounces beef steak, cut into small thin slices
- 2-3 ounces pork loin, cut into small thin slices
- 6 peeled and deveined shrimp, cut in half lenthwise
- An equal amount of shredded cabbage to the meats, 1/8 head? (I used my mandolin to make a finely slicedvegetable.)
- 1/4 cup thin sliced green onions
- 2 Tablespoons pickled ginger
- 2 eggs
Put equal amounts of the ingredients (or your choice) into the bowls with the batter. Make a depression in the stuff and add 1 egg to each bowl. Mix the ingredients of one bowl. (You will cook up the 2nd bowl after you eat the first.)
- 2 to 3 Tablespoons of vegetable oil
Heat a skillet over medium heat, add a bit of oil, and spread it around with a paper towel. Pour the contents of one bowl in and shape it into a circle about 7″ across. Cook until the bottom is golden. Use 2 spatulas to turn the pancake and press to flatten. Cook until it’s browned. Use a pastry brush to spread the sauce on the pancake. Sometimes people also add mayonnaise.
Garnish (which I forgot):
- 2 Tablespoons toasted and crumbled nori
- 1/4 cup katsouobushi (bonito flakes)
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