Today I made some Japanese pancake, Okonomiyaki お好み焼き. It’s one of my favorite Japanese dishes but unfortunately hard to find in Japanese restaurants over here. In Japan, they have places with a hotplate for you to grill your own. Kind of similar to a make-your-own-pancake place I went to once. Over here in the U.S., I have asked around but have yet found such an establishment. Anyway, I do what I usually do under such circumstances: I tried making my own.
First I make the batter by adding eggs to the Okonomiyaki flour. I got the flour mix at an oriental grocery store, but if you can’t get it, an (untested) recipe I have calls for 2 cups flour + 1 tsp baking powder + 1 egg + a pinch of salt. The flour mix I bought has additives such as yam powder, seasoning, fish powder and MSG (so you haven’t heard of the Japanese paradox? They down more MSG than anybody else and live a good long life.) (And oh in case you bought the flour mix and can’t read Japanese: it’s a pack of flour + 2 eggs + slightly less than a cup of water.)
Next I chop up some cabbage and carrot. Traditionally pork, shrimp and squid are used too, but I prefer to skip the meat. Other optional ingredients include cheese, scallion and kimchi. As the name implied, okonomi means “whatever you like” and yaki means grill. So, be adventurous! I also add some corn and julienned ginger. If you get the pickled one use that if not just plain fresh ginger – do try to use some as it does add to the taste.
Mix everything into the batter.
Heat up the pan with oil, then scope in the batter for a pancake.
For the okonomiyaki sauce, the easiest way is to use eel sauce instead. You can also make a complicated from-scratch version using Worchestershire sauce, ketchup, sake, mirin, honey, ketchup and more. Here I didn’t use ketchup. I tried using honey instead of sugar but the taste is weird… different than what I am used to, so I stay with sugar.
Next I prepare the seaweed by cutting up the nori sheet. They do sell it in shreds already but I don’t use the shreds often enough, and they get stale faster. I also have katsuobushi, dried shaved bonito fish. That’s the one that looks like live wood shavings on your age tofu, and a major ingredient in Japanese soup stock.
When the pancake is cooked on both sides, I squirt on some mayonnaise (I use the Japanese Kewpie brand in th squirt bottle though of course you can just use a regular mayo), add the sauce glaze, then sprinkle on the seaweed and bonito shavings. It’s ready and looks very nice too!