Friday, April 11, 2014

Okonomiyaki with crispy pork

One time in 2007, my sister and I decided to make okonomiyaki. We had never actually seen okonomiyaki in person. We'd just watched way too much Ranma 1/2 when we were kids. The recipe we used was from before the rise of food blogs. They turned out terribly. My friends Yoshi and Ryan gamely (or just boyishly) ate one each, but my sister and I barely managed a couple bites.

The urge to try again has been brewing for a while (since I made onigiri a few years ago), especially now that I've actually seen (and eaten!) okonomiyaki in real life. And I'm going to a Japanese street festival in a few days, but I can't wait that long, obviously. The recipes I looked at were from here, here, and here.

1 cup Okonomiyaki flour (or wheat or white flour--add a little bit of salt if you're using regular flour)
1 cup water
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups finely chopped cabbage
1 cup grated carrot
3 finely chopped green onions
1/3 cup panko or tenkatsu (tempura bits)
pork belly or thick-cut bacon
vegetable or canola oil
toppings of your choice (I used sriracha mayo, more green onions, and bonito flakes)

Make sriracha mayo by combining 1/2 cup mayonnaise (the "Kewpie" kind from Japan is traditional but it doesn't really matter), 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and 2 tablespoons sriracha. Or adjust to your taste. Stick it in the fridge.

Once all the vegetables are chopped, whisk the flour into the water in a large bowl. It will form a smooth batter. Add the beaten egg, panko, and chopped vegetables and mix through (don't overmix).

Heat a small amount of oil on a griddle at 400°F or in a large frying pan on medium heat (or whatever you'd normally use to make pancakes--my stove is kind of weird). While it's heating, cut the pork belly/bacon into small pieces (or keep it in strips--I think it's easier to cook in little bits).

Scoop out about 1/4 of the batter and drop it onto the pan. Use a spatula to flatten it until it's about 1/2" thick. Cook for about 3 minutes, while you put the pork on top of the okonomiyaki. Press it into the batter a little bit so it sticks.

Flip the cake over and cook for about 3 more minutes, or until the pan-side surface of the pork has crisped but the batter side is still soft (if you're using thinner bacon, just let it crisp all the way through).

Flip it again and cook the bottom for another 2-3 minutes, until it's crisped and the insides have cooked.

Move it to a plate, sprinkle with toppings, and enjoy. I think traditional okonomiyaki are bigger than mine, but they're so dense and delicious that I doubt I could actually eat more than one.

Obviously this can easily be made vegetarian, or with different toppings, or other vegetables mixed in. I'm going to try a seafood one next. If you come up with something brilliant, let me know.

Ukyo, the Okonomiyaki chef/spatula-wielding martial artist who started all this nonsense.


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