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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Vegetarian Okonomiyaki - Japanese Pancakes

I very deeply believe that recipes come looking for me and not the other way around.  Social media may help with that, but as I scroll down looking for Bull Terrier pictures, I get flashes of beautiful things I had no idea existed.  These things take over my brain until I give in and recreate them my way.  Okonomiyaki is one of those things.  I thought I was familiar with Japanese cuisine, but seeing an image of this wonder made me realize that all I've ever experienced concerning Japanese food is what I've been able to try at restaurants.  I know absolutely nothing about Japanese street food.  Actually, the words "Japanese Street Food" never crossed my mind.  If I was asked what I thought it was, I would guess some teriyaki meat on a stick or things along those lines.  Now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure food on a stick is a big thing in Japan.
Anyway, this little treasure absolutely needed to be born of my hands.. and so it was..
Serves 4 (1/2 per person or 4 smaller pancakes)
3 eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp miso
160mL mushroom water (or broth or water)
100g flour
few tablespoons oil for cooking
300g shredded cabbage
2 large handfuls dried shitake mushrooms, soaked int hot water, then sliced
1 carrot, peeled and grated
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
3 green onions, chopped
toasted sesame seeds
picked sliced ginger
dried seaweed (I rehydrated mine)
sliced cherry tomatoes
sesame oil
thick dark soy sauce
glassy balsamic vinegar
Japanese spicy mayonnaise (I didn't have)
1. In a large mixing bowl, place all the vegetables until evenly distributed with each other.
2.  In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, miso, water (I used the cooled water from the mushroom soaking), and flour.
3.  Pour the batter onto the vegetables and stir until all mixed together.  This should not be liquidy.. think hash browns.  Do not over mix, just coat.
4.  On a skillet or plancha, squirt a bit of oil and heat to high.  Divide the battered vegetables into 2 for mega Okonomiyakis or 4 for individual sized ones.  
I only had 2 medium pans.. this would be best on a large habachi style grill or plancha.  I did what I could to satisfy my urge.  I seriously thought I'd be making 1 per person, but it turned out to be a bit overwhelming in portion size.
Shape them into round pancake like things.
5.  Cook for about 3 minutes on high, then flip and cook on the other side for another 3 minutes.  I'm not a crazy person that tries to flip things in the air and catch them back in the pan.  If you are one of those.. go right ahead and give it a shot.  I covered the pan with a plate, flipped onto the plate, then slid the pancake back into the pan to limit the possible damage.
I also had 2 different pans, one stone and one ceramic.  The ceramic gave me a char and cooked quicker than the stone.  Interesting!
6.  Add your garnish, then try to make something pretty with all your sauces.
Serve hot or warm.. but not cold.  This is a right here right now type of thing.

The amount of cooking is very subjective and personal, but I enjoyed the charred one better than the custardish one.  It tasted more.. finished.
This dish is just as interesting to eat as it is to look at.  It's something completely customizable so there isn't really a fixed recipe.  The basics are that you need cabbage, need something meaty, need batter, and need need need toppings and sauce.  Crunchy toppings, fresh toppings, pickled toppings.. but toppings.  Sauce should be tangy, spicy, and a bit sweet.
Now I know why this Okonomiyaki spoke to me in the first place.  It is completely the way I let my desires develop in my the kitchen...

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