Before I start talking about the dish you see above, I owe an apology to all my dear readers for the considerable break in my posting schedule due to long and busy holidays in Tokyo. As usually, my plans to write posts in advance simply didn’t work and this second trip to Japan being at least as pleasantly exhausting as the previous one, I haven’t managed to take care of my blog. I would like also to apologise for neglecting all my blogging friends and paying them visits with such a big delay. Moreover, I don’t know why but I didn’t feel like taking photos (apart from some restaurant or bar menus which are intended for my progress in Japanese, but I doubt anyone would be interested), so there will be no Japan-related post this time. I did come back with lots of new ideas, inspirations, quite a collection of tableware, food products, etc., so my stay in Japan will be in a certain way present in my future posts.
My first post after holidays in Tokyo could only be about Japanese food of course, so today I would like to present you another version of my beloved okonomiyaki, aka Japanese omelette, the dish I have had at least once a week for the last year. The name means roughly “grill what you like” and I have never been scared of modifications (see some of them below), but this one is probably the boldest and at present my favourite version of okonomiyaki (if I am still allowed to call this fusion creation by this name).
For those who have never heard of okonomiyaki (お好み焼き), it might sound a bit complicated, but it’s really very easy and quick to prepare. Its ingredients can be divided into three groups: the batter, the filling and the topping. The batter’s amount is small and it’s there only to bind the filling, which is composed mainly of shredded/chopped cabbage and sometimes includes squid, pork or tiny dried shrimp. Thin slices of pork belly are often put on top and grilled when the omelet is turned. The toppings can be adapted to everyone’s taste, but chives (or spring onion), mayonnaise, okonomiyaki sauce (easy to make at home), pickled ginger and katsuobushi (dried shaved bonito) are recurring items. There are two main regional types of this dish, Hiroshima-style, containing noodles, and a lighter Osaka (Kansai) style. My okonomiyaki are rather Osaka-style.
In this bold version I have modified all the three groups of ingredients, keeping only the batter in its original form. I have put bok choy (chingensai) instead of the shredded cabbage in the batter. Then, instead of the smoked bacon I have always loved on top of the omelet, I put thin slices of hot chorizo. Once the omelet turned, they became crunchy and the omelet gets soaked with their spicy juices. As for the toppings added on the plate, instead of the traditional okonomiyaki sauce, I opted for my Indian Tomato Chutney, which went perfectly well with chorizo (though okonomiyaki sauce would go well with it too). The magical dried bonito, mayonnaise and chives/green onion were a perfect pairing, though fresh coriander was also fantastic instead of chives. I have no words to express how I love this spicy fusion okonomiyaki. If you like fiery food, I strongly advise experimenting here with chorizo.
You might also like these versions:
TIPS: Okonomiyaki batter mixture can be bought in Japanese grocery shops or prepared from the scratch. I am happy to prepare it from the scratch since it takes two minutes and I’m sure it tastes better. I have seen different batter recipes and mine is composed of an egg, some flour, some dashi (Japanese stock), salt, pepper, baking powder and, last but not least, grated mountain yam (or yamaimo in Japanese), a slimy cousin of the potato (I find it in organic or Asian shops). When I don’t have yam or dashi, I simply omit them, trying to keep the same pancake-like texture. The result is still delicious, albeit slightly different.
Okonomioyaki batter mixture can be prepared in advance and fried/grilled the following day. As an addict, I often make a double batch and have it two days in a row.
Okonomiyaki sauce is usually available in Japanese grocery shops, but personally I find it too sweet and prefer a home-made version Hiroyuki kindly taught me. It is simply a mixture of ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce in proportions adjusted to your taste.
Special equipment: a big pancake spatula is very useful to flip the okonomiyaki
Preparation: 40 minutes
Ingredients (serves 2):
2 tablespoons oil
5 slightly heaped tablespoons flour
3 cm/about 1,2 in grated mountain yam (yamaimo) (can be omitted, but then less flour should be added)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
10 bok choy leaves and stalks (or more if the bok choy is small) chopped or finely cubed
1 tablespoon oil
15 thin slices of chorizo
dried bonito flakes (katsuobushi)
okonomiyaki sauce (or a mixture of ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce) or, if you feel like making Indian tomato chutney, it would be perfect
chopped chives or spring onions (or fresh coriander)
(chili paste, oil or sauce, such as Taberu Rayu; pickled ginger)
In a big bowl combine the batter ingredients. Add the filling ingredients (except for the chorizo!) and adjust their amount (the mixture should be very thick, not liquid and the batter should only bind the ingredients together and not dominate them).
Heat one tablespoon oil in a frying pan or on a smooth grill (called teppanyaki grill or la plancha).
Put half of the okonomiyaki mixture in a more or less round-shaped heap (you can adjust it on the pan).
Put the bacon slices on top, flatten delicately the pancake, but not too much. Otherwise it might fall into pieces when you turn it over. (My okonomiyaki is max. 1,5 cm/about 1/2 inch high)
Cover the pan and let it fry at medium heat for 5 – 10 minutes (you probably don’t need covering if you have a grill; I always prepare it on a frying pan).
Turn the pancake over, cover once more and fry for another 5 minutes.
Repeat the same with the remaining batter.
Serve the chorizo side up, topped with mayonnaise, okonomiyaki sauce or Indian tomato chutney, chives, dried bonito flakes and chili sauce/oil or paste, pickled ginger and whatever you want.