We have experienced an exceptionally ‘wintery’ winter in our little microcosm of the Manzano Mountains. A favorite recipe on snowy days has been my version of okonami-yaki, and we'd like to share it with you. My first encounter with this dish was from the 1970 classic, Tassajara Bread Book, but the recipe I’m going to share with you is a far departure from that one.
Okonomi means “what you like” or “what you want”, and yaki means “grilled” or “cooked”. So okonomi-yaki are light and savory Japanese pancakes of vegetables, meat, fish, or “whatever you like”. They can be made from whatever you have around.
My personal approach is to preserve typical Japanese flavors with my choice of ingredients. And I tend to make the vegetables dominant, rather than the batter. They are quite delicious, and they’ve become one of Sue’s favorite methods of consuming vegetables.
A food processor is nearly indispensible for this recipe. Saves an immense amount of time. They can certainly be made without one, but I offer this as just a little heads up. Here’s a sample version which is suitable for all constitutions:
In a food processor, mince:
Change attachments and shred:
Change to the slicer for:
This doesn’t sound like much,but it fills a large food processor bowl
In a small bowl, beat 3 Large Eggs.
Add and mix:
Into a large bowl, mix:
Blend the egg mixture into the dry ingredients. Then add enough warm Chicken Broth to bring the batter to a well-mixed, medium consistency. Err on the side of too runny, if anything. This tiny amount of batter has to hold that entire bowl of vegetables together!
The first time I did this, I was ‘winging’ it completely, and I admit to being pretty intimidated by this prospect. But I unceremoniously dumped the entire bowl of vegetables on top of this meager amount of batter and optimistically began blending it together. By appearances, the batter only moistens the vegetables, but it works.
Go ahead and make the plunge. When it’s well blended, ladle a good sized dollop onto an evenly heated surface of medium-low temperature, and press it flat.
When you sense that the bottom is lightly browned, flip it with a spatula. This is a great time for one of those big round pancake spatulas from Sur La Table. Because these are best hot off the griddle, I make them about 10” in diameter — enough to satisfy one person. Saves time, looks beautiful.
When it's done, slip it onto a hot plate, and indulge.
Okonomiyaki are delicious and satisfying hot off the griddle accompanied by nothing more than a cup of steaming sencha.
But certain additions can enhance the experience. Our personal favorite is to spread a thin layer of South River Garlic Red Pepper Miso on top. This is a lovely combination. Their Azuki Bean Miso has a unique, sweet flavor which goes well, too. Experiment and find what you like. After all, that's the essence of cooking okonomiyaki.
Nonetheless, I stand with Ed Brown, author of The Tassajara Bread Book in saying, “Please, no syrup…”
More than any other recipe on our site, okonomiyaki begs innovation and wild creativity. Add meat, fish, or an endless combination of vegetables. Subtle shifts in batter ingredients, too, can change the whole package.
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