Okonomiyaki (Japanese "Pancakes")... with shrimp. This past summer I've really challenged myself to stretch my dollars when shopping at our local farmer's market. I've been trying to find local produce that would sell for just a single dollar. I know, it kind of sounds strange... I mean, really... $1 for farm fresh ingredients? But you know, if you look really hard it's possible. At least here in Montana, anyway. It's kind of funny how it started out...
In the beginning of the summer I happened to go to the farmer's market early one Saturday morning... quickly realized that I had just a few dollar bills on me. I walked through the stands not really thinking I could buy much, but decided to see how far I could stretch those dollars. That day I ended up buying some cucumbers. And then throughout the summer, I "played" the $1 dollar game most Saturdays... just to see what produce I could buy for a single dollar. Turned out that I could buy a variety of produce... like mushrooms, zucchini, corn, peppers, and cabbage. So, today's post features a recipe I made using a small cabbage I bought for a single dollar... actually, I only used half of it:).
I wanted my cabbage to stretch out a bit, so I decided to make the popular Japanese cabbage "pancakes" called, Okonomiyaki. The word Okonomiyaki can be translated to mean, "cooked to one's liking".... so this of course will make the Okonomiyaki pancake to vary somewhat from chef to chef. The "pancakes" can be made using a variety of ingredients, but the main ingredient happens to be shredded cabbage. And depending on the region, even toppings, ingredients, and cooking style can change. There's the Hiroshima style Okonomiyaki, where a crepe-like batter is first cooked, and then the rest of the ingredients are added in stages... with a final topping of noodles. The Osaka Okonomiyaki differs from the Hiroshima style, in that the batter and ingredients are all mixed together and cooked like a pancake.
I chose to cook the Osaka-style Okonomiyaki... with ingredients I had at home. Bacon is a common ingredient, and since I didn't have the bacon, I added some shrimp instead. Really, if you like, you can make a vegetarian-only Okonomiyaki, and add extra shredded vegetables that may be in season. And even though I've called these "pancakes", they're known more as a "pizza-style" dish.... in that the toppings make the dish. I find the pancake is mainly used as a vehicle for the toppings and sauces that are added at the end. Funny, but I found myself adding a bit more sauce and mayonnaise to the "pancakes".... sort of like you would add extra maple syrup to regular pancakes. That's probably due to the fact that mine were a bit thicker and because they didn't have too many toppings. So... maybe they can be a "pancake/pizza" sort of dish:). In any case, I really don't think there's a wrong way to make the Okonomiyaki... so feel free to experiment with ingredients and sauces. Hope you enjoy...
Note: I cooked my Okonomiyaki in english muffin rings for uniformity, but it's truly not necessary. And while I chose to add some baking powder to mine, many recipes omit it.
Tip: I had some leftover Okonomiyaki... so I refrigerated them. The following day I baked them in the toaster oven, and felt they were even better... personally liked the more pronounced flavors. It's just good to know they work as a make-ahead dish that can be reheated.
3/4 cup water (can use dashi water or even chicken stock)
1 cup flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp hot smoky paprika, optional
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 cups finely shredded green cabbage
1 carrot, finely grated
2 green onions, chopped
1/4-1/2 of an onion, sliced thinly
1 cup blanched shrimp, chopped
salt and pepper, as needed
oil as needed
Toppings: can include any, to taste
toasted and crumbled seaweed
Sauces: can make your own or use store-bought.
okonomiyaki sauce (similar to worcestershire sauce that is thicker and sweeter... can mix some ketchup, worcestershire, and soy sauce to taste.)
mayonnaise (I like to add a bit of rice vinegar/apple cider vineagr with some wasabi powder to make wasabi Japanese mayonnaise)
BBQ/hoisin sauce will work in a pinch:)
1. Blanch shrimp, if using... and cut in small pieces. Reserve a few for topping, if desired.
2. Combine flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
3. Mix eggs with water and a pinch of salt. Set aside.
4. Shred cabbage... you will need about 3 cups. Grate carrot. Slice onion and chop green onion.
5. Add cabbage in a large bowl, along with the grated carrot, onion, paprika, salt and pepper to taste. Add the flour mixture and combine.
6. Pour the beaten egg/water over the floured cabbage mix and combine.
7. Fold in the shrimp.
8. Heat a large skillet add a bit of oil. Place about 1/2 cup cabbage mixture in hot skillet... making as many mounds as can fit leisurely. Don't crowd. Optional: You can use a 3 inch ring to place cabbage mixture in for uniformity.
9. Cook pancakes on medium/low heat for 3-5 minutes, and when golden on the bottom, flip on second side. Continue to cook the second side for an additional 3-5 minutes... or until cooked through, and golden on both sides. The cooking time varies depending on the heat level and thickness of the pancake.
10. Top with various toppings of choice, and drizzle plenty of sauce and mayonnaise. Serve hot.