Okonomiyaki! Japanese pizza! or perhaps it’s more like a pancake. It’s time for another post about this versatile and easy recipe. This recipe can be made with a variety of whatever ingredients you have on hand, so I was able to use some of the food in my freezer, which I’m trying to use before I lose…
As I was cooking, it occurred to me that okonomiyaki is very similar to Korean pancakes—savory pan-fried circles, with vegetables and meat or seafood held together with a simple flour batter. Pajeon are scallion (or chive) pancakes. They are small, and are dipped in a sauce made with soy sauce and vinegar (sometimes there is also a little sugar and a few drops of sesame oil). OK okonomiyaki is big, cut into triangles, and the sauce is tonkatsu. Still, similar, ok?
Some Korean pancakes include julienne carrots, and summer squash, fish cake, sauteed beef, or even Chinese sausage. Pancakes with squid are buchimgae; or with tuna they are chamchijeon; and with potatoes they are kamja jeon. There are even kimchi-jeon! Most of the recipes I found online start with Korean pancake mix, which contains flour, sometimes baking soda, flavorings (salt? msg?), and a starch often mung bean starch. I’ve never made these pancakes, but the store near me (that has the best Japanese produce) is a small Korean grocery and I’ve seen several brands of the pancake mix.
Shiso is easy to grow, but the seeds are difficult to find. I added the packet to my purchases and said to the woman at the counter, “Shiso??!!” I had a big smile because the seeds were so inexpensive, and she looked at me and said something in very fast Korean that sounded like catnip. I went over to the vegetable display and showed her a package of shiso leaves. “Shiso!” I said again. “Sesame,” she said slowly in English.
Apparently, “Shiso and Korean sesame (deulkkae or just the leaves kkaennip) are the same plant, which is not really sesame but perilla (a mint).” Oh, and Korean pancakes with shiso are kkaennip jang ddeok.
- You can buy sauce for okonomiyaki, but you can easily make your own tonkatsu sauce!
- 1 cup Japanese cake flour
- 1 cup water or dashi
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons potato starch, or 3 Tablespoons grated yama-imo
Mix the batter in a suitable bowl. Divide into 2 bowls.
- 1 chicken breast, sliced thinly and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 12 ounces small bay scallops (better to cut them in half, though I didn’t)
- An equal amount of shredded cabbage to the protein
- 1 small (or 1/2 regular) sweet red pepper, for color
- use a mandolin to make a finely sliced vegetables
- 1/4 cup thin sliced green onions
- 2 Tablespoons pickled ginger, chopped
- 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. Garnish:
- 2 Tablespoons toasted and crumbled nori
- 1/4 cup katsouobushi (bonito flakes)
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