Tuesday, August 28, 2012


I have had an abundance of cabbage in the garden this year and when I asked for suggestions on how to use it some months ago, a fellow blogger, I think it was Norma, suggested okonomiyaki. What a great idea!
I had heard of okonomiyaki from my son. He and his girlfriend love all things Japanese. They got engaged in Japan and they are going to Japan on their honeymoon in the fall. They live in New York City and often go out to some of the many Japanese restaurants in Manhatten and okonomiyaki is a favorite dish. It is a savory pancake made with cabbage and Japanese seasonings, topped with a gingery sauce, seaweed, bonita flakes and Japanese mayonaise. Sounds odd to western tastes, but it is really delicious.
I've never made it, but when I was given a kit and all the right ingredients to make okonomiyaki this weekend, it was time to give it a try.
 Here it is: the kit, which included directions (in four languages!), the batter mix and a packet of yam powder, which is some kind of starch I think. But it is also important to have the sauce, the mayo and the bonita flakes to be authentic. I imagine you could make the sauce and the batter from scratch, but that will be a future project for me. To all this you add eggs, shredded cabbage, chopped green onion and some meat or shrimp.
 I got a kick out of the cute directions with illustrations for the newbie like me! There is a particular way to make it. Once the batter is mixed, you add the eggs and vegetables and lightly mix them together. You fry it in a skillet for a few minutes and lay thin strips of uncooked meat on top. The pancake is then flipped so that the meat is now lying directly on the skillet and cooks into the pancake. After a few more minutes of cooking, it is flipped again so that the meat is on top once more and after
a few more minutes, place on a dish, meat side up and cover with the sauce, mayo, bonito flakes and some chopped seaweed.

And...ta-da! The final product! It turned out perfectly even though I had some trepidation when I was making it. There is lots of cabbage in there and the batter seems thin when you mix them. I wondered whether it would hold its form, but it did. Mine had pork strips on it and D's had shrimp since he doesn't eat meat. It is a keeper in this household as we both loved the final product. My next challenge is to learn to make okonomiyaki from scratch and that means sourcing some of the ingredients. We have a fair number of Asian grocery stores in our area, but it's not always easy for me to make out what is in those packages and since there are few non-Asians shopping in them, the proprieters often don't speak English. But I'll be up to the challenge and on the hunt so I can make this new favorite meal more often!

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