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Home-cooked okonomiyaki January 18, 2009

Posted by ayasawada in Food, Japan.
Tags: , ,
My very own okonomiyaki!

My very own okonomiyaki!

Okonomiyaki is my favourite Japanese food, ever since I visited the okonomiyaki tower in Hiroshima back in 2003. One of the first restaurants I ever went to in Japan was a tiny do-it-yourself place in a small alley in Kyoto’s Kawaramachi, where myself and a random German couple tried to work out what on earth we were supposed to do. And one of my favourite restaurants in London is the okonomiyaki restaurant Abeno, even though it is ridiculously expensive for what it is. >_<

Over Christmas, a couple of friends visiting from Japan gave me the gift of an okonomiyaki ingredients set: okonomiyaki flour mix, okonomiyaki sauce and katsuobushi. So today I decided to try using them.

Okonomiyaki seems a fairly easy dish to make; after all, the name literally means ‘as you like it’ and most restaurants in Japan allow you to cook it yourself at your table (with built in hot plates). But it’s harder than it looks to get right.

There’s a nice simple ‘kids’ recipe here.

I’ve made okonomiyaki at home twice before, with fairly mixed results. This time it turned out much better. I’m sure the proper mixed — as opposed to me mixing English flour, baking powder etc. myself — made a difference, but there are other things to keep in mind. Clearing out my fridge, I used chicken, cabbage, mushrooms and carrots. I ended up making three okonomiyaki and it was only at the third one that I finally got it (more or less) right.

My okonomiyaki is too thick >_<

My okonomiyaki is too thick >_<

Ingredients are pretty readily available in Chinese, Japanese and Korean supermarkets nowadays. So if you’re thinking of giving it a go, here are my tips:

  • Chop your ingredients really, really small. I mean really small! It makes it easier to mix, spread out and cook faster. And you won’t end up with ridiculously thick pancakes.
  • If you want to add meat, bacon or sandwich meats (ham, etc. ) are easiest to use as they are already pretty thin and easy to cook quickly.
  • Use a medium heat so your pancake doesn’t burn, but is hot enough to cook the ingredients (especially meat) quickly
  • The best cabbage to use is probably the kind you’d use for coleslaw. Similarly, you probably should steer clear of hard vegetables like carrots, unless you par-boil them first. :p
  • When mixing, add the water tablespoon by tablespoon and make sure the consistency is ok, so that it doesn’t turn into a really big watery crepe. :p
  • Use two spatulas, as they do in Japanese restaurants, for flipping and pushing down. It’s so much easier. Also, if you have metal spatulas with no gaps in them that’s better for the flattening. Somehow, we have tons of spatulas in our flat, but a combination of plastic ones and ones with gaps in them. >_<
  • Keep your okonomiyaki small: ignore the temptation to throw in loads of ingredients into one mix!
  • Eat as you go along, eating before cooking the next one (or switching duties with someone else). Okonomiyaki is best when fresh. this can mean that your meal takes several hours (especially if you’re doing it by yourself and have no-one to take turns with), but it’s meant to be a fun cooking experience, as well as a delicious food.

The sauce makes all the difference! I love okonomiyaki sauce and sometimes have it on toast :) But nothing beats the combo of mayo and okonomiyaki sauce. いただきます!


1. Jon Lester - January 24, 2009

Hey! that food looks great ^.^! I added you to my blogroll. I really like all the nice posts!

~1AnimeKitten – 6_6

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