When I told the Missus we were having Okonomiyaki for Dinner, she asked if we were going to Tajima, a popular Japanese restaurant. When I told Her, that I'd be making it at home, she gave me the strangest look. I've tried to make Okonomiyaki before, but they've never really turned out real well. They looked fine, but the texture seemed to be a bit off.
But after reading through several of my Japanese cookbooks, I've figured out why. I've used recipes with simply flour, dashi, and egg; and one with flour, dashi, katakuriko(potato starch), and egg. And they've never turned out right. But, I've finally found the ingredient that created a texture I enjoyed:
It's Yamaimo. You'll find these in most Japanese Markets, usually stored in sawdust to absorb all of the gooey-ness that may drip out of the yam. When grated the meat of the yam creates a gluey-snotty-phlegmy liquid. Those that enjoy Maguro Yamakake will know what I mean.
It's this gluey and starchy liquid that helped to bind, and changed the texture of the okonomiyaki.
But first the sauce. In most places either a Tonkatsu Sauce style "Okonomi" sauce will be served; sometimes a bit more on the sweeter-tangier side. I just went ahead and made my Tonkatsu Sauce:
1 Cup Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 Cup Soy Sauce
1/2 Cup Sugar
2/3 Cup Ketchup
1-2 TB Dijon or other French Style Mustard
Dash of 5 Spice
Black Pepper to Taste.
2 - When desired consistency is reached, remove from heat and mix in the last 3 ingredients.
3 - Let sauce cool to room temperature.
While the sauce was cooling, I started on the Okonomiyaki.
1 Cup Cake flour, sifted
1 Cup water or Dashi
3 TB grated Yamaimo/Nagaimo(Japanese Mountain Yam)
1 tsp salt
1 - Sift Flour into a bowl.
2 - Add Dashi(water), yamaimo, and salt.
3 - Mix to a pancake batter consistency(do not over-mix). The batter will be sort of a gluey pancake batter
2 Cups shredded Cabbage
1 Cup Bean Sprouts
1/2 Onion sliced
4 Scallions green parts only - sliced thin
2 TB Benishoga(pickled ginger) minced
8 16-20 Size shrimp peeled and deveined, sliced
4 oz Kamaboko(fish cake), cut into strips
2 TB Furikake(Japanese rice topping)
1 - Divide the batter equally into two bowls.
3 - Add half of the rest of the ingredients to each bowl, and mix with a spoon.
Cooking the Beast:
2-3 TB Vegetable Oil
1 - Heat a large skillet over medium heat.
2 - Add 2 TB oil to the skillet and swirl skillet to evenly coat the bottom. If there is an excess of oil, pour off to discard.
3 - Reduce the heat to low, and pour the ingredients of one bowl into the skillet. With a spoon or other utensil, spread the batter out, creating (hopefully) a round or oval "pancake". Increase the heat back to a medium level.
4 - When the bottom of the pancake is a golden brown. Turn the pancake over. This is much harder then it sounds. Use two spatulas, or some other (combination of) utensil(s). Remember to enjoy the aroma of the Okonomiyaki as it cooks.
Katsuobushi (Dried Bonito Flakes)
At this point in time, we were hungry, and so we just "went for it", grabbing whatever toppings we wanted(the Missus has an aversion to Mayo on this dish). And you see the result in the first photo. Now you can use squeeze bottles, and pastry brushes, and other "tools" and create a work of art. But heck, "okonomi" , means something along the terms of "as-you-like" or "favorites". Today this is how we wanted it.
A quick note - I know it seems like alot of work, but it's really not. Not including making the Tonkatsu Sauce, this took only about 40 minutes for prep, mixing, and cooking. It's also really easy; except for the flipping of the pancake - here's where a flat griddle would be handy! Hmmm, where's my wishlist?????