Okonomiyaki by the james kitchen
Okonomiyaki, a photo by the james kitchen on Flickr.

I do not know why we never cooked these fabulous vegetable pancakes since the Tasting Table mail arrived in May and someone literally had rushed out to buy Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise and that very same person had to throw it out two weeks ago – tja, should have eaten it (Best) before August 2013… Je m’accuse: Yes, dahhrrrling, you are so right, again, I admit it, that larder of ours is a little full with impulse purchases.

Anyway, a fresh Kewpie squeeze bottle & okonomo sauce crossed my way recently in a newly discovered Asian food shop in Frankfurt and finally, we have made these extra yummy pancakes.

They are super easy and quick to throw together since they are basically just shredded veg in batter: a grater, one bowl, one pan. Ingredient wise just follow the name “as you like it” quite literally and use what you have or add what you like. Comparing other reliable sources for the best recipe: some people add dashi to the batter or tempura bits, use less eggs, drizzle the pancake with wasabi mayonnaise and sprinkle bonito flakes, aonori (seaweed flakes) or nori fumi furikake (rice seasoning blend) over them.

We used napa cabbage (Chinakohl) and the dark leaves of choy sum (Chinese flowering cabbage, pretty) instead of cabbage and lacinato kale (Cavolo nero, Schwarzkohl), topped the individual pancakes with a thin lattice of Kewpie mayonnaise & okonomo sauce as well as a shower of coriander, spring onions (scallions) & Shichimi togarashi (listen, I can’t justify buying everything).

My okonomiyaki were in the March, 1st edition of the Guardian. Nice.



Okonomiyaki – japanese vegetable pancake
makes about 8 smallish pancakes: enough for 2 people for supper and at least one extra for lunch
adapted from this Tasting Table entry, garnished with a little Smitten Kitchen and sprinkled with some Splendid Table and our own additions:

½ napa cabbage or 1 small napa cabbage (Chinakohl)
a small bunch of choy sum (Chinese flowering cabbage) or any other bitter dark greens like kale
2 larger carrots
4-6 spring onions (scallions)
¼ cup of plain flour
shichimi togarashi seasoning
salt & pepper
3 eggs
oil for frying
Kewpie mayonnaise
okonomo sauce (substitute tonkatsu or BBQ sauce)
coriander (cilantro), chopped
2 spring onions, chopped
more shichimi togarashi (or bonito flakes, aonori or furikake)

Cut the napa cabbage and choy sum leaves (use stems in a stir fry) into fine slices, cut the carrots into julienne or grate them (I use a super sharp Benrhiner, you might have a box-grater or mandoline), thinly slice the spring onions and mix all shreds in a bowl. Add the flour and season with shichimi togarashi, salt & pepper. Stir in the eggs and congratulate yourself. Heat a frying pan or skillet on medium heat, pour a little oil into it and dollop medium or small sized vegetable fritters or pancakes onto the hot surface. Cook about 3 minutes for a small pancake (adjust if you are making larger ones) on one side and gingerly flip the thing over with a spatula or two. Fry lightly on the second side for the same time until both sides are nicely browned and cooked. Cover the finished pancakes with tin foil (aluminium foil) and keep in a warm oven if you are making a lot more.

To serve: either let everyone do their own (safest way and fun for the whole family) or dress each pancake with a thin criss-crossed pattern of Kewpie mayo, okonomo sauce, sprinkle with a little more shichimi togarashi chilli-mix and add spring onions & chopped coriander.

I had another one cold for lunch the next day with a salad on the side (baby spinach leaves & other stuff with vinaigrette), just to brag about my vegetable consumption here.


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