Tag Archives: yakimono 焼き物

Yaki Nasu 焼きなす(Japanese Grilled Aubergine)

yakinasupIf you still associate aubergine only with fat-soaked greasy chunks, prepare yourself for a big surprise. This refreshing, light dish doesn’t contain a gram of fat and is one of the most amazing aubergine treats I know. I noticed Yaki Nasu last week while looking for new inspiration on Just One Cookbook. Since aubergines are in season here and I had several small ones in the fridge, I prepared Yaki Nasu practically the same day (albeit with some modifications). Given the excellent results I obtained with all the Nami’s recipes, I shouldn’t have been surprised by another successful outcome, but once again, I was in awe of its typical Japanese sophistication in simplicity.

Yaki Nasu means “grilled aubergine”, but as you might guess from the photograph, this is not the usual sliced and grilled version. Actually, the whole aubergine is grilled, peeled, cut into pieces, then finally served with a light sauce and seasoning. As much as I wanted to follow Nami’s recipe to the letter, I was forced to introduce some modifications. First of all, I don’t have gas in my building, so the original grilling the aubergine over the stove flame was out of question. I simply grilled it under the oven grill, turning it once or twice (this took longer and my aubergine never had the beautiful light green hue I saw on Nami’s blog). Moreover, I didn’t have the required ponzu or chilli threads, so I decided to replace them with soy sauce and shichimi togarashi (spicy seasoning with seven spices), since my brand includes yuzu zest. I also have used small, but European aubergines, while Nami advises the Japanese ones.

In spite of all these changes, this side dish was fabulous and practical at the same time: I have already served it warm and cold and both versions were excellent. The cold one is pleasantly cooling on hot summer days and perfect as a snack too. Thank you so much, Nami, for one more Japanese discovery!

Visit Just One Cookbook  to see the original unchanged recipe with her clear, step-by-step explanations and discover her other easy and luscious Japanese treats.

TIPS: If you intend to have this dish cold, you can grill and peel the aubergine even one day before and keep it in the fridge.

I haven’t tested it, but Nami gives another delicious alternative sauce idea: a mixture of soy sauce and grated ginger, so if you cannot get ponzu or anything with yuzu flavour, try this combination.

If you realise you have grilled too much aubergine, you can always use it in a soup (delicious in ramen!).

Preparation: about 30 minutes (+ aubergine cooling time) or less, if you grill over a gas stove

Ingredients (serves two as a side dish):

2 Japanese/Asian aubergines or one small/two very small Western aubergines

katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)

green onions or chives

shichimi togarashi (seven ingredient spicy Japanese seasoning) or chilli threads

soy sauce (or ponzu, if you have it)

yuzu koshou (fresh chilli and yuzu paste, see the recipe here)

If you have a gas stove, go to Nami’s  blog to see the whole process.

If you don’t, heat the oven grill.

Prick the aubergines on the whole surface with a fork.

Score the skin horizontally into several “strips” to make the peeling process easier (it’s not a tragedy if you forget, but it’s easier this way).

Grill the aubergines under the grill until the skin starts becoming black and wrinkled.

Turn to the other side and grill observing the skin.

If the aubergine is very plump you might have to grill it on four sides. If it’s rather lean, two sides are enough.

Take it out and either peel it as soon as it is bearable to touch or let it cool down completely and peel it afterwards. (It depends if you want to serve it warm or cold and if you want to keep the green hue: if you wait, the aubergine flesh will lose the green hue; as you see mine was rather dark).

Cut the aubergine into bite-sized pieces and arrange on one or two plates

Pour soy sauce over it, sprinkle with shichimi togarashi, katsuobushi and chopped green onions. Serve with yuzu kosho.

 

 

Negiyaki ねぎ焼き (Okonomiyaki with Green Onions)

oko_negipThose of you who remember my passion for okonomiyaki will not be surprised to see one more version of this amazing savoury pancake. During my experiments I learnt that its versatility has no end. Even white cabbage, the pillar ingredient of okonomiyaki, can be successfully replaced with bok choy and – as I discovered during my last trip to Tokyo – with “negi”, a Japanese cousin of our leek and green onion. Original negi is not available here, but now that green onions are cheap and sold in huge bunches, it is a perfect moment to try to copy this delicious light summer version.

For those who have never heard of okonomiyaki (お好み焼き), it is described either as a Japanese “savoury pancake” or “pizza”. The name means more or less “grill what you like” and resumes very well its versatile character. Okonomiyaki is composed of a batter, traditionally mixed with chopped or sliced white cabbage, and of a very generous choice of toppings, which usually include a special okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise, katsuobushi (dried and shaved bonito), green onions, pickled ginger, ao nori (seaweed “flakes”)… The basic cabbage batter can be enriched with sliced pork, beef, raw calamar or dried shrimp and it is often topped with thinly sliced pork belly, fried when the panckage is flipped. There are two main variations of okonomiyaki: Kansai/Osaka-style (the one I “practice” and describe above), and a very filling Hiroshima style, which contains also cooked noodles. 

I don’t recall the name or the location of the place where I tasted this particular okonomiyaki, but I remember very well that I loved its surprising lightness. Negi, the Japanese plant used instead of the usual cabbage, has different varieties; some are closer to Western green onions; some are closer to the leek. It also depends whether the green or whiteish parts are used. In the okonomiyaki I had in Tokyo only negi’s green parts were used and they were quite thin, so I decided to replace them with green onion’s green parts. I was worried my experiment would yield too harsh flavours because negi is milder than green onions, but luckily I was wrong: the green onion pancake was perfect! The taste was delicate and much lighter in taste than the cabbage or bok choy version. I think I should call it “summer okonomiyaki” because due to the huge amount of green onions, abundant in the summer, and its pleasant lightness, this is an ideal dish for this time of the year.

I have recently discovered that any okonomiyaki batter tastes much better when a crushed garlic clove is added, so this one includes garlic too. If you don’t like garlic, just skip it.

Here are some other okonomiyaki versions I have posted:

Okonomiyaki with Chorizo

with Chorizo

Okonomiyaki with Bok Choy and Chicken

with Bok Choy and Chicken

Okonomiyaki with Chicken

with Chicken

Okonomiyaki with Eringi Mushrooms and Bacon

with Eringi Mushrooms and Bacon

...with Red Cabbage and Garlic

with Red Cabbage and Garlic

TIPS: Okonomiyaki batter mixture in powder can be bought in Japanese grocery shops or prepared from the scratch. Personally I am happy to prepare it from the scratch since it takes two minutes and I’m sure it tastes better. My batter recipe is usually composed of an egg, flour, 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 shops but it is sold in Asian groceries too) and I sometimes add a splash of milk. Here I have skipped the egg to make the batter even lighter, but if you cannot get the yam, replace it with one small egg. Dashi is not obligatory. When I don’t have yam or dashi, I simply omit them, trying to keep the same pancake-like texture (milk or stock or even water can be used instead of dashi). The result is still delicious, albeit slightly different.

The Japanese often top okonomiyaki with thinly sliced raw pork belly (it is put on top of the pancake and then is grilled when the pancake is flipped). I prefer by far smoked bacon and I have discovered the best product is dried and smoked bacon (though I’m not sure it is easily found everywhere). Smoked bacon goes perfectly with katsuobushi’s smokey aroma.

Pickled ginger is one of the usual ingredients here, but I prefer to serve it aside rather than inside the batter or on top of it.

Okonomiyaki sauce can be bought in every Japanese grocery shop, but I find it too sweet, so thanks to Hiroyuki I have been preparing my own quick okonomiyaki sauce, mixing soy sauce, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce in ratios suiting my preferences.

Special equipment: a big pancake spatula is very useful to flip okonomiyaki

Preparation: about 30 minutes

Ingredients (serves 1):

Batter:

3 slightly heaped tablespoons wheat flour

30 ml (about 1 oz) dashi (Japanese stock, home-made or instant) or milk or a mixture of both or chicken stock or simply water

4 tablespoons grated mountain yam (yamaimo)  or 1 small raw egg 

1 garlic clove, grated or crushed

salt

1/4 flat teaspoon baking powder

(pepper)

10 long, thick green onion stalks, chopped (loosely they fill almost 2 US cups, i.e. a bit less than 500 ml volume) 

(1 tablespoon of tiny dried Japanese shrimp; do not use dried Thai shrimp which is too big and too chewy)

Toppings:

3 very thin slices of pork belly (I always use smoked bacon and my favourite, if you can find it, is dried and smoked bacon)

dried bonito flakes (katsuobushi)

okonomiyaki sauce (or a mixture of ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce)

mayonnaise

chopped chives or spring onions

(ao nori)

(chili paste, oil or sauce, such as Taberu Rayu)

(pickled ginger)

1 tablespoon oil

In a big bowl combine the batter ingredients. Add the filling ingredients 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).

Cut the belly or the bacon into pieces that will be easy to eat without destroying the whole pancake. (This is not necessary, but I found a long time ago it makes the eating process less messy and easier).

Heat one tablespoon oil in a frying pan or on a smooth grill (called teppanyaki grill or la plancha).

Put the okonomiyaki mixture in a more or less round-shaped heap  and flatten it delicately, but not too much (you should be able to turn it over). My okonomiyaki is max. 1,5 cm/about 1/2 inch high.

Cover the okonomiyaki with bacon/belly pieces.

Cover the pan and let it fry at medium heat for 5 – 10 minutes until you see the upper part of batter starting to set. If you use an old-fashioned pan (steel or iron), you might have to turn down the heat to the lowest because it might burn.

Flip the pancake over, cover once more and fry for another 5 minutes.

Serve topped with (I always do it in this order): okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise, dried bonito flakes, chives or spring onion and chili sauce/oil or paste or anything you wish.

 

Chorizo no Okonomiyaki (Japanese Omelette/Pancake with Chorizo)

okonchorpBefore 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:

Okonomiyaki with Bok Choy and Chicken

Okonomiyaki with Bok Choy and Chicken

Okonomiyaki with Chicken

Okonomiyaki with Chicken

Okonomiyaki with Eringi Mushrooms and Bacon

Okonomiyaki with Eringi Mushrooms and Bacon

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

Batter:

5 slightly heaped tablespoons flour

30 ml (about 1 oz) dashi (Japanese stock, home-made or instant) or milk or a mixture of both

1 egg

3 cm/about 1,2 in grated mountain yam (yamaimo) (can be omitted, but then less flour should be added)

salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

(pepper)

Filling:

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 

Topping:

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 

mayonnaise

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.

Tamagoyaki/Dashimaki Tamago with Mitsuba (Japanese Rolled Omelette with Herbs)

tamagppDear Japanese friends and all the experienced tamagoyaki makers, please be indulgent. What you see above is only my second attempt at the delicate task of preparing the Japanese omelette. The first time I tried making it, the result was tragical, so I expected a long series of failures. Surprisingly, this second omelette didn’t fall into pieces (even when I cut it) and, in spite of its messy looks, tasted wonderful. It made me so happy, I simply had to share my joy with you.

Tamagoyaki 卵焼き/玉子焼き, also called dashimaki tamago, is different from its European counterparts, not only because it contains some soy sauce and is sweet, but, most of all, because of a different frying method. Seasoned, beaten eggs are fried in thin layers, which are rolled successively with long cooking chopsticks and end up in a – hopefully neat – cylinder. A special rectangular or square pan is the traditional utensil, but it can also be made in a simple, round pan. I have seen the tamagoyaki making process dozens of times on television and internet and it always looked extremely difficult, especially for someone who, like me, lacks patience and dexterity and who isn’t used to cook with chopsticks.

Last year I decided to brave the tamagoyaki challenge and put the special pan as an obligatory item on the shopping list for my trip to Japan. I came back with a small rectangular pan and… didn’t have the courage to use it for over eight months! I don’t remember what has triggered my sudden urge to use it, but last week I thought I was fed up seeing the pan still unpacked in my drawer. I desperately needed very precise instructions, so I started to look for videos and finally followed the famous YouTube show called Cooking With Dog. I found it comprehensive, very well made and the concept of a talking dog funny and completely crazy. I have chosen this video also because the recipe called for mitsuba, the Japanese plant which starts forming a small forest on my balcony and which is particularly good with eggs. It was a sign I should choose this show and no other.

The video was very helpful and, apart from scaling down the recipe’s amounts, the only thing I changed was eliminating the sugar. Japanese omelettes are always sweet, the thing which doesn’t suit my taste buds, so my home-made tamagoyaki, even though clumsy and messy-looking, was the best because it was 100% savoury, just the way I love it. Check the Cooking with Dog show to see the original three-egg recipe and very comprehensive instructions, but, please, do not compare the final result to mine!

TIPS:

PAN: The special square or rectangular pan is not necessary. Tamagoyaki can be prepared in a round pan too. The important thing is to adapt the size of the pan to the number of eggs you want to use. I have bought the smallest pan I found because it was adapted to a two-egg omelette, perfect for one serving. My rectangular pan’s measures are: 18 x 13 cm (7 x 5 inches), so if you want to make an omelet with two eggs, take a similarly-sized round pan.

HERBS: I have used here mitsuba because I love it and am lucky to grow it on my balcony, but of course any fresh herb of your choice will be great here. I recommend chives, tarragon or dill.

SERVING: My favourite way to serve tamagoyaki is with good French buttered bread (baguette or similar bread with crunchy crust), but you can have it as a snack or in a more Asian way, as a part of a meal with rice, pickles, vegetables…

Tamagoyaki is often served cold, but personally I like it still slightly warm, with a splash of soy sauce.

Special equipment: long cooking chopsticks. As difficult as it may seem, in my opinion cooking chopsticks are a perfect tool for this omelette. You can try also with normal eating chopsticks, but they might be too small.

Preparation: 15 minutes

Ingredients (serves one as a main course, for example breakfast):

2 eggs

2 tablespoons Japanese stock (dashi), but in my opinion chicken stock will be perfect here too (you can dissolve a pinch of instant stock of course)

1 teaspoon soy sauce

(ground black pepper)

pinch of salt

about 10 sprigs mitsuba leaves or any other herbs of your choice (chives, tarragon, dill…)

oil

(soy sauce and grated daikon radish to serve)

Chop the herbs (if you use mitsuba, use also the stalks!).

In a wide bowl mix the eggs, add the stock, the salt, the soy sauce and the pepper, if using. Combine with the chopped herbs.

Heat a pan (keep in on medium heat) and grease is slightly using chopsticks and a piece of folded paper towel soaked in oil and brushing the surface with it.

To check if it’s hot enough Cooking with Dog’s chef advises pouring a small drop of egg mixture: if it sizzles, it means the pan is ready.

Pour a part of the omelette mixture (in case of my pan’s size 100 ml/about 3,5 fl oz was the ideal amount) onto the pan and move the pan so that the egg mixture covers the whole surface.

When it’s half-cooked, lift the pan from the heat and start rolling the omelette. I found that rolling in the direction towards me was easier.

Push the roll towards one side of the pan (the one with the handle is more practical).

Grease the pan once more, holding the soaked paper towel in chopsticks.

Pour once more the same amount of egg mixture. Spread it evenly, moving the pan.

Make sure it arrives under the rolled first part of the omelette (lift the roll slightly while spreading the mixture).

Fry it, destroying with your chopsticks the bubbles forming on the surface.

When this portion is almost cooked, lift the pan from the heat and roll the omelette, starting with the roll you have previously made.

Push it towards one side of the pan (preferably close to the handle), grease slightly the surface and repeat the whole process until you finish the egg mixture.

Make sure you are not left with a tiny amount of egg mixture! It’s better to make the last rolled layer too thick than too thin. If it’s too thin it will break or/and be overcooked.

Squash slightly the roll with a wide spatula, transfer it onto a chopping board.

Let it cool down slightly and cut into 4 equal pieces.

Serve cold or slightly warm (it is usually served cold).

Cooking with Dog show’s chef recommends serving it with grated daikon radish and a splash of soy sauce. I like it served still warm, with good buttered French bread (with crunchy crust), with a splash of soy sauce and, optionally, with some chili or chili paste.

Okonomiyaki (Japanese Savoury Pancake) with Bok Choy and Chicken

okono_bokchoypj

If you don’t know okonomiyaki yet (I have written about it here and here), I will repeat what I have said in one of my posts: this messy-looking dish is one of the most brilliant inventions of the Japanese cuisine. Easy, quick, versatile and full of flavours, it is a dish one falls in love with at first bite and becomes instantly addicted to. Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き ), often called “Japanese pancake” or “Japanese pizza”, means more or less “grill what you like” (“okonomi” means “what you like/want” and  ”yaki” means here “grilled”). In fact, apart from a regular “basis”, different ingredients can be added and okonomiyaki restaurants offer a whole range of versions. I have fallen in love with okonomiyaki at the first bite, it has become the most frequent Japanese dish I prepare and never get tired of it after dozens of meals. I have to say once more that this is one of those Japanese dishes which could become famous and loved all around the world due to its versatile ingredients and the lack of obligatory “exotic” products.

As a reminder, okonomiyaki is composed of three parts: the batter, the filling and the toppings. The batter has two main regional versions: Kansai (Osaka) style, according to which pancake batter is mixed with shredded cabbage, and Hiroshima style, which contains also noodles. I “practice” only the former which is lighter and easier to prepare. Beef, pork, dried shrimp and squid are the most popular ingredients added to the basic mixture, which is formed into a thick circle and fried or grilled. In Japanese restaurants clients grill the mixture of their choice over a smooth teppanyaki grill and I remember my okonomiyaki lunch as lots of fun.

Just before serving, okonomiyaki is topped with different ingredients. My favourite – and now obligatory – are mayonnaise, okonomiyaki sauce (which I prepare with a mixture of ketchup, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce), katsuobushi (dried shaved bonito, hated by many Westerners) and chives or spring onions. I also like to spice it up, adding hot paste, hot oil, chili bean sauce… Many people serve pickled ginger on top, but I prefer to serve it aside.

Visit Hiroyuki’s Blog on Japanese Cooking, Nami’s Just One Cookbook, Robert-Gilles’s Shizuoka Gourmet,  Arudhi’s A Box of Kitchen to learn more about other okonomiyaki versions and Charles’s Five Euro Food to see a very European interpretation.

Since I discovered how to make okonomiyaki (here I must thank once more Hiroyuki, Nami, Robert-Gilles, Arudhi and Charles, who inspired me greatly with their different okonomiyaki versions), I must have prepared at least dozen different permutations (I have posted only two of them: first one with eringi mushrooms, bacon and dried shrimp  and another one, with chicken). Nowadays fried pieces of chicken breast are my absolute favourite addition to the batter, although a Japanese friend told me this is unheard of in Japan. Anyway, I can add what I want, can’t I?  As for toppings, these never change.

Bok choy, or pak choy (“chingensai” チンゲンサイ in Japanese) is not a traditional okonomiyaki ingredient . I only use it in stir-fries, so my choice of pak choy was purely accidental: it was late and my shop ran out of cabbage, but had beautiful, fresh bok choy. It is softer and much more delicate than white cabbage, therefore I worried it would become mushy and lose its delicate taste. I was wrong of course! Bok choy’s stalks were still slightly crunchy, the taste was subtler and made this okonomiyaki seem lighter and fresher. It was a nice change from the regularly used cabbage and I was glad to discover a new way to use bok choy. Needless to say, if you are familiar with okonomiyaki, I encourage you to try it with bok choy and if you are not, do try preparing any of the versions, such as these:

chickenoko2p

… with Chicken

oko2p

… with Eringi Mushrooms and bacon

...with Red Cabbage and Garlic

…with Red Cabbage and Garlic

TIPS: Okonomiyaki batter mixture in powder can be bought in Japanese grocery shops or prepared from the scratch. Personally 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. Mine is composed of an egg, flour, 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 shops but it is sold in Asian groceries too) and I sometimes add a splash of milk. Both yam and dashi are not obligatory. When I don’t have yam or dashi, I simply omit them, trying to keep the same pancake-like texture (milk can be used instead of dashi). The result is still delicious, albeit slightly different.

Okonomioyaki mixture (with the cabbage) can be prepared in advance and fried/grilled the following day. As an addict, I often make a bigger batch and have it two days in a row. (Actually I even had it recently for three meals in a row: a lunch, a dinner and a lunch the following day…).

Special equipment: a big pancake spatula is very useful to flip okonomiyaki

Preparation: 40 minutes

Ingredients (serves 2):

Batter:

5 slightly heaped tablespoons flour

30 ml (about 1 oz) dashi (Japanese stock, home-made or instant) or milk or a mixture of both

1 egg

3 cm/about 1,2 in grated mountain yam (yamaimo) (can be omitted, but then less flour should be added)

salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

(pepper)

Filling:

10  bok choy leaves and stalks (or more if the bok choy is small) chopped or finely cubed 

1 chicken breast

1 tablespoon oil

Topping:

dried bonito flakes (katsuobushi)

okonomiyaki sauce (or a mixture of ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce)

mayonnaise

chopped chives or spring onions

2 tablespoons oil

(chili paste, oil or sauce, such as Taberu Rayu)

(pickled ginger)

Cut up the chicken breast into small cubes (1 cm x 1 cm). Season with salt and pepper,  fry until golden brown and put aside.

In a big bowl combine the batter ingredients. Add the filling ingredients 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).

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 until you see the upper part of batter set. If you use an old-fashioned pan (steel or iron), you might have to turn down the heat to the lowest because it might burn.

Flip the pancake over, cover once more and fry for another 5 minutes.

Repeat the same with the remaining batter mixture.

Serve topped with (I always do it in this order): okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise, dried bonito flakes, chives (or spring onion) and chili sauce/oil or paste or anything you wish.