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LUNCH AND DINNER

Ironclad Okonomiyaki

One time, our friend from Japan invited me and my family to his house and whipped up some Osaka-style okonomiyaki which is iconic Japanese street food. Okonomiyaki is a melting in your mouth savoury pancake, or giant vegetable bacon fritter, which is crispy outside and tender inside, and packed with cabbage, seafood and pork belly. Also, it is a very versatile dish that can be varying depending on regions and can have various topping options. In Japan, people usually eat okonomiyaki at restaurants that specialize in the dish. At some of these restaurants the dining tables are each equipped with an iron griddle ("teppan"), and customers are given the ingredients to cook the meal themselves. 

It’s easy to make okonomiyaki at home as well. Especially it’s good if cooked on a cast-iron skillet. Cast iron allows you to get gentler, more radiant heat for searing, frying, and baking in the oven. There is simply no other pan that holds heat as well. Hot cast-iron skillet sears okonomiyaki beautifully, giving a thick, browned and absolutely delicious crust.

Ingredients

Serves 2 

1 c all-purpose flour
1 t baking powder
½ t fine salt
¾ c kelp dashi stock (or 1 sachet of instant kelp dashi dissolved in 3/4 cup of warm water)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 spring onions, sliced
150g shrimp cutlets (or squid, or octopus), roughly chopped
4 c chopped green cabbage
6 thin slices pork belly (or bacon rashers)
2 T cooking oil
1½ T grated Nagaimo Japanese mountain yam (Optional, see notes)

To serve

Okonomi sauce (I prefer Otafuku brand)
Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise
Katsuobushi (Bonito flakes)
Sliced spring onion
Nori sheet, sliced

Method

Combine flour, baking powder, salt in a large mixing bowl.

Add dashi stock, and whisk until smooth. Stir in eggs and Nagaimo, if using. Add cabbage, green onion, shrimp. Mix well until well-combined. 

Preheat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat, add oil and swirl to coat. Add half of the okonomiyaki batter and spread evenly forming pancake. Cook for about 5 minutes or until golden brown crust will be formed.

Place pork belly slices on top of okonomiyaki and carefully flip it over using two spatulas. Press okonomiyaki gently using a spatula. Cook another 5-7 minutes or until okonomiyaki is firm and all the way cooked through.

Remove from heat and repeat with remaining ingredients. Brush okonomiyaki with okonomi sauce, top with Japanese mayonnaise, sprinkle with nori seaweed seasoning, Katsuobushi and spring onion. Serve immediately.

Notes

Below, you will find, a small guide about ingredients used in this recipe. You can find these ingredients in Japan mart or Wang mart.

Okonomi sauce, also known as okonomiyaki sauce is a sweet-savoury Japanese condiment, with rich flavours similar to thick Worcestershire sauce. As its name suggests, the sauce is the traditional topping for Okonomiyaki savoury pancakes but is also a great accompaniment to takoyaki and pork belly dishes.

Kewpie mayonnaise, which was invented in 1924, is now a household staple in Japan. Kewpie has a richer, creamier flavour than your usual mayonnaise due to its exclusive use of egg yolks and a mix of apple and malt vinegar. Kewpie comes in a large squeezy bottle to make it easy to pour on to your favourite dishes.

Katsuobushi (or dried bonito flakes) is a form of dried, prepared skipjack tuna, and an essential ingredient in Japanese cuisine. Sprinkle katsuobushi on top of okonomiyaki or takoyaki, or use to make dashi.

Nori is the sheets of seaweed used to wrap sushi, is as versatile as it is delicious. Slice it into strips and sprinkle over the okonomiyaki for extra umami flavour.

Nagaimo, also known as Chinese yam, is a kind of mountain yam, the tuberous root of a climbing vine.  Its texture is crunchy and somewhat sticky. Nagaimo gives to okonomiyaki more fluffy texture. Nagaimo is available In New Zealand during the autumn time.

Visit The Crazy Cucumber Blog for more incredible recipes from Leno Regush

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