“Can one desire too much of a good thing?” from: As You Like It, Act IV, Sc. I
teasing Orlando, but consider—is having too much of a good thing likely?
Not in the case of “okonomi-yaki!”
In Japanese, okonomi means as-you-like-it,
and yaki means dry-heat cooking.
Okonomi-yaki is a savory pancake or a Japanese pizza!
It’s delicious food, very easy to make.
Just the thing to cook whenever you like,
and a very nice thing to eat!
If you are in love, then any food, or no food, is sufficient.
But even if you are not in love, this food will bring you pleasure.
Hiroshima’s version of the dish has all of the same ingredients plus noodles — yaki-soba or udon. In Hiroshima, however, the stuffing is not mixed with the batter, but rather the batter is poured on the griddle and then the other ingredients — the gu — are then placed on top.
There are now dozens of variations on the okonomi-yaki theme, and the terminology can get quite confusing. First, as you can see, depending on where you are, simply ordering “okonomi-yaki” might yield different results. The safe bet is, however, if you are not in Hiroshima, you will get an Osaka-style pancake.
Second, know your terminology when ordering at a restaurant. Plain okonomi-yaki with shrimp (ebi) as the main ingredient should be ordered as ebi-ten. The same goes for beef (gyu-ten), pork (buta-ten), squid (ika-ten) and vegetable (yasai-ten). Add a fried egg and the shrimp version becomes ebi-tama-yaki, the beef gyu-tama-yaki, etc. Regular okonomi-yaki with a fried egg is called modan-yaki (modern yaki), and one with everything on it is called mikkusu-yaki (mixed yaki).
You can put anything and everything you want in okonomi-yaki. You see, “okonomi” means just that: “as you like it.”
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.
- 2 Tablespoons toasted and crumbled nori
- 1/4 cup katsouobushi (bonito flakes)
“All the world’s a stage
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.” from: As You Like It, Act II, Sc. 7