Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Okonomiyaki - 16 years in the making
I have this odd tendency to crave things on the basis of seeing other people enjoy them. When I crave things, that's when they taste the best - that's what happened when I was so eager to try Vegemite when it was hard to find around this neck of the woods. I enjoy salty and yeasty. From a more recent blog posting, the jajangmyun I made, I saw on a TV show and it just looked good. After researching about it, I decided I was going to like it.
I was introduced to okonomiyaki from Ranma 1/2 when I was 12 and kind of just made the assumption that it had to taste good. Following some recipe I found on the internet, I failed quite miserably at making something that tasted good. The rest of the ingredients kind of just went to waste after that, aside from the okonomiyaki flour, I didn't invest too much into quality ingredients - San Antonio also had a pretty limited selection of the goods anyway.
Fast forward 16 years and now I'm quite comfortable in the kitchen and a rather competent cook. I've been in a bit of a money crunch lately so I developed an okonomiyaki craving because the ingredients are easily transferable to other things (bonito: agedashi tofu, seaweed: miso soup, fried rice), cabbage is high in fiber, and I had a lot of the ingredients at home already.
Following the recipe from Closet Cooking, I actually ended up with a thick pancake that was mushy inside. I could only eat it for so long before I decided to scrap and start with a new recipe I found and modified:
Okonomiyaki Recipe (DogBird style) (makes one large sized pancake)
5 tbsp flour
1/2 cup dashi broth
1.5 - 2 cups cabbage
About 1/2 to 3/4 cup seafood (either raw diced fish or imitation crab)
bacon (about 2 slices halved)
green spring onion chopped
Add flour to a bowl. Combine with broth and mix. Usually, I use warm to hot water to dissolve the dashi mix. I'll add some cool water to it, and mix with the flour before adding the egg to avoid any premature cooking
Add egg and blend well, then mix in cabbage and seafood.
Line the bottom of your 8"-9" pan with the bacon. If you want to pass on the bacon, just use cooking oil and heat until is moves fast around the pan. Add the cabbage flour pancake mixture to pan, spread and flatten out. This should come out to about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Leave the pancake on the pan until the bottom is a deep golden brown and the bacon is crisp and done. 7-9 minutes on each side usually does it for me. Sniff to make sure it isn't burning.
Flipping the okonokiyaki is usually tricky, but...not really. Slide the okonomiyaki onto a paper plate, uncooked-batter side up. I'll usually sop up some extra grease with a paper towel, turn the pan upside down and push the plate into the pan. Hold the plate and invert the pan right side up. Place the pan back on stove. Done. You could also just flip the plate onto the pan but that will create more splatter so be prepared.
Been working on my okono-art. Anyway, once the pancake is done, dredge with toppings as it pleases you. Green onion makes a nice difference - adds some nice freshness. I didn't feel like buying aoi nori, so I just take some snack seaweed and crumble it over.
I like it. Theoretically, that's all that matters since ideally this dish should be altered to suit the palate of the maker.
My major modifications:
Thinner batter: I didn't like how mushy and doughy the first one I made came out. Cooking it for longer didn't help things as the vegetables steaming made the interior more mushy. Having a more mature world view compared to my 12 year old self, I decided that I have a right to modify this to enjoy it - people pay to do that: just get ingredients and make their own. A thinner batter drastically reduced the interior mushiness I didn't like. I could also, consequently add more vegetables and fiber load the heck out of this.
- thinner batter could be achieved with: more broth, less flour
The thinner batter also gives me more confidence when using raw seafood as I know it won't cook too fast, create a seal, and prevent the fish from cooking.
Thinner pancake: I really wanted to make sure this cooked all the way through
Potato: Or as I affectionately call them "Okonomi-Latkes" I use grated potato and some grated carrot instead of . The amounts should definitely be kept to about 1.5 cups with less carrot as they're more fibrous, they take longer to cook. grated potato is more prone to dense packing than cabbage so when I overloaded one pancake with grated potato, some middle batter didn't cook as well. Thinner is better with potato.
Anyway, go forth and modify. Enjoy.