Saturday, 16 February 2013

You Say Pancake, I Say Okonomiyaki お好み焼き - Japanese 'As You Like It' Pancake

The thing about pancake is that they can be addictive. They are quick and easy to prepare. They can be served for breakfast/brunch adorned with sugary maple syrup or roasted strawberries like those from my favourite Bea's Diner. A scoop of ice cream will transformed them into beautiful pudding. Set it alight with alcohol and the much drooled flambé desert tick all the boxes for every pudding aficionado. Savoury pancakes, which although are just as delectable, are however less popular here.

One fine example of such savoury succulence is the Japanese Okonomiyaki or 'as-you-like-it' pancake. As the name suggest, you can use almost any combination of ingredients for this but the key ingredient remains the shredded cabbage which help to bulk up the pancake. To this you can be more adventurous and add squid, prawns and even Korean kimchi which I have done in the past and the result was astoundingly delicious. But here, I've adopted a more traditional combo and added some prawns to bling up the classic recipe.

Whatever your combination, the condiment toppings remained a must have in order to do this dish justice. Okonomiyaki sauce, a vegetable and fruit based sweet sauce should always be liberally spread onto the pancake. Followed by lashings of the famous QP Kewpie mayonnaise, a stuff so good that it has been compared to crack - simply addictive! (I dunk everything in it) A final scattered of some dried bonito flakes/Katsuboshi, spring onions and red pickled ginger/beni-shoga will make this the finest pancake you'll ever have. Mmmm...Oishidesu (Yummy)! 

Ingredients (Serves 4)

200g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 baking powder
200ml dashi (see here for recipe), or alternatively use water
100g Nagaimo/Chinese yam, grated 
3 medium free range eggs
100g tenkasu (bits of tempura batter, you can buy these from Japanese supermarket)
1 small white cabbage, roughly 250g, remove core and finely shredded 
4 large raw prawns, shelled and roughly chopped
8 rashers streaky bacon, cut 4 of the rashers into 2-3 inches pieces.
2 spring onions, cut into fine rings
15g Beni shoga
Sunflower oil, for frying

For the toppings:
Okonomiyaki sauce
QP Kewpie mayonaise 
a handful of Katsuoboshi bonito flakes
3 spring onions, cut into fine rings
Aonori seaweeds
Beni shoga/ pickled ginger


In a large mixing bowl, sift in the flour, salt and baking powder. Add the dashi, grated Nagaimo and eggs and whisk to a smooth batter. Set aside to rest for at least 30 minutes,

After this time, add the tenkasu, cabbage, prawns, bacon pieces, spring onions and beni shoga into the batter and mix well.

Heat up some oil in a non-stock frying pan over medium heat. Ladle in a quarter of the batter mixture. Using a spatula, shape the batter mixture into a round disc by gently tucking in the side along the circumference. This will give you a neater presentation. Place a rasher of bacon on top and cook covered for 4-5 minutes until the base is lightly browned.

Turn the pancake over and cook covered for another 5 minutes. Reverse again and cook uncovered for 3 minutes. Flip it over again and cook uncovered for another 3-4 minutes, until thoroughly cook through. 

Transfer to a serving dish bacon-side down. Drizzled over the Okonomiyaki sauce, followed by the mayonnaise. Top with some bonito flakes and sprinkle over some spring onions, aonori and beni shoga. Serves immediately.

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