Another one of my random trial & error moments. The first time I had okonomiyaki was in Tokyo and the okonomiyaki restaurant was quite a random one we found across the coolest popcorn shop ever. Not only did we find loads of stalls in Tokyo Disneyland selling all sorts of unthinkable flavoured popcorn – like curry, bubblegum and coconut! We stumbled upon a shop styled like an old sweet shop but instead of shelves of different types of sweets, it had different flavoured and coloured popcorn decorating the walls and shopwindow all the way to the ceiling. One of the coolest moments of my teenagehood I reckon. It was little me in popcorn heaven.
The okonomiyaki restaurant was an eye-opener as well. I love DIY cooking on the dinner table. So things like steamboat and Korean BBQ excite me very much and I tend to get rather bossy when it comes to cooking it at the table. What I found out at this restaurant was that the person who attends to you doesn’t just serve you your drinks or food, he makes it for you at your table! It was a strange experience but really good because he was so skilled and friendly, explaining to us the best ingredients to put together and so on.
Okonomiyaki is like a Japanese pancake with cabbage. In my opinion, it’s very good for you. Cake + egg + vegetables…yea, sounds exactly it! It’s name basically means ‘as you like it’ pancake so that really works for me. That’s 2 points already. The final scoring point: it’s simple enough to make at home and takes like 15min max including prep time. With that at the back of my head, I was out and about town just checking out some oriental shops. Strange to think I’ve never actually properly visited Birmingham’s Chinatown till this year. But now that I’ve discovered it, although it doesn’t stock the things that I usually want, it’s nice to observe the hustle and bustle the people working there and the way they interact with their regulars. Made a visit to the indoor market as well. Haven’t been back in about a year ever since I started relying a lot on supermarkets and online grocery shopping so it was good to go back and take a stroll about the shops. Kebab shop, city butcher, fresh shell fish and seafood, a chocolate shop, African food shop, Chinese & Asian food shop, shops selling the odd trinket and city souvenir. Had a pretty nice time just looking about. Bought a cabbage from the Chinese shop. The ladies running the shop were so busy chucking vegetables here and there and moving their stock about, I believe they got more annoyed at me looking around and getting in their way than my actual purchase of a humble little cabbage. Was even growled at by a rather large-nosed lady as I was searching the shelf of oriental sauces. Thank goodness whilst I was waiting to pay, a lovely lady struck up a conversation about cabbages with me because oddly enough it was only then that I actually felt like a customer rather than some annoying kid getting in the way of life. Well, you know what I mean! It was fun though, and it made me forget how cold I actually was in my lightweight cardigan. Indeed, I am a true idiot. Who, in their right mind, assumes that it’ll be nice and warm just because the sun is out when it was snowing yesterday?!
Anyway, this was so quick and easy to make. It smelled so good as I was cooking it too. There were times when I was awfully tempted to just pick off the hot pan. Only setback I believe was maybe the dough. Seemed slightly too doughy for me so that will need working on. The next time I make this, I’ll opt for a non-vegetarian one because I’d really like to have an okonomiyaki with more powerful flavours like say with bacon and octopus. Eew, maybe; but to me…oh my life. This makes one pan-sized okonomiyaki which can be sliced into 4 servings.
- 300g flour
- 2 eggs
- 210ml water
- 1/3 cup sliced cabbage
- 1/4 cup sliced leek
- 1/2 a red onion, chopped
- 1 tbs teriyaki sauce
- some sliced beetroot for garnishing
Mix the flour, eggs, water together. Then add the sliced cabbage and give it a good mix so that the batter coats all of the cabbage. Add the sauce. Grease a frying pan and heat it up. When hot enough, add the pancake mixture and spread it out with the back of a wooden spoon till it fills the whole pan, its edges reaching out to the sides of the pan. As it cooks, add the other ingredients on the top. I prefer to add the ingredients but kind of mix it into the pancake as it cooks so that it doesn’t form an extra layer on the uncooked side as this will prevent you from getting an evenly brown side. This cooks about 4min each side on medium heat.
Apart from the cabbage which is an essential ingredient, you can vary your okonomiyaki with other ingredients like seafood, mushroom, seaweed, katsuobushi shavings, chicken, beef slices, bacon, octopus, etc. which would give it a lot more flavour than mine. Just remember to serve with a lot of Japanese mayo and okonomiyaki sauce. I couldn’t source all the ingredients that I would’ve liked so this was really quite a badly prepared dish. To make things less dismal than they already were, I garnished with beetroot strips on a bed of bistro salad leaves.