Extract from The Part-Time Vegetarian by Nicola Graimes
Sometimes referred to as ‘Japanese pizza’, the name okonomiyaki actually means ‘grilled/broiled as you like it’, which goes to explain the many regional styles as well as personal variations there are of this dish. Just to confuse matters, okonomiyaki is probably more accurately described as a cross between a thick omelette and a pancake. This interpretation is based on the Osaka-style, where all the ingredients are mixed together before cooking. Try the veggie version, or add meat or fish for non-veggie guests or family.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 12 minutes
150g/5½oz white cabbage, finely shredded
6 spring onions/scallions, thinly sliced
50g/1¾oz kohlrabi or turnip, peeled and coarsely grated
110g/3¾oz/scant 1 cup plain/
½ tsp sea salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1½ tbsp sunflower oil
mayonnaise in a squeezy bottle, for drizzling
1 handful of radishes, sliced
1 handful of wild garlic leaves (and flowers) or chives, chopped
1 tbsp pink pickled ginger
1 tsp nori flakes
- Put the cabbage, spring onions/scallions and kohlrabi
in a large mixing bowl. Add the flour and salt and stir well until thoroughly combined.
- Mix the eggs with 100ml/3½fl oz/scant ½ cup water. Pour it into the bowl containing the dry ingredients and stir gently but thoroughly until combined. Try to keep the stirring brief as you don’t want to activate the gluten in the flour as this will produce a heavy pancake.
- Heat half the oil in a medium non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and tilt the pan so it coats the base. Tip the contents of the bowl into the pan and flatten with a spatula into a thick, round pancake shape, as even as you can get it. Turn the heat down slightly as you don’t want the base to burn and cook for 5–6 minutes until light golden.
- Turn the pancake over (the easiest way to do this is to place a large plate on top of the pan and carefully turn it over to release the pancake). At this point, add the remaining oil to the pan before sliding the okonomiyaki back into the pan. Press down with a spatula and cook for another 5–6 minutes until light golden.
- Slide the okonomiyaki onto a chopping board. Drizzle the mayonnaise in lines over the top and pile the radishes, wild garlic, pickled ginger and nori in the middle. Serve cut into wedges.
There are so many variations on toppings and fillings, so feel free to pick your own or try these suggestions:
Bonito flakes (paper-thin slices of dried fish similar to tuna) are typical. Sprinkle 2 tbsp bonito flakes over the top instead of the radishes.
Put 200/7oz diced bacon in the dry frying pan and place over a medium-low heat. When the fat starts to run, turn the heat to medium and fry the lardons for 5 minutes until golden and crisp. Stir half into the batter mixture and scatter the remainder over the top. There is no need to clean the pan before adding the okonomiyaki mixture, although you may like to reduce the amount of oil to 1 tablespoon.
Smoked salmon okonomiyaki
Stir 100g/3½oz smoked salmon pieces into the batter mixture and top with Japanese pickles.
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