Okonomiyaki (Japanese Pizza)

How long has it been since you had a regular old fashioned pizza? You know- like from Pizza Hut or someplace like that. Well it’s been maybe 35 years or so for me. I used to love it, but my tummy has never taken kindly to that kind of food - gooey cheese, garlicky tomato sauce, pepperoni etc. etc. Sometimes I really miss it- in fact I’m just drooling thinking about it. I get it though, it’s not for me. Once in a blue moon I take a Zantac, cross my fingers and splurge on a whole wheat vegetarian pizza at California Pizza Kitchen when my granddaughter is here. Rather a boring splurge actually. And yes, I suppose I could make my own but then I start thinking about my other bugaboo: calories. Pizza is fattening. You can’t get around it. And let’s face it- while there are tons of things worth wasting calories on- for me pizza is not one of them. Well, take hope; I have a (sort of) solution, although it won’t be quite the same for you pizza die-hards.

Recently, while trolling through my favorite food blogs, I ran across a recipe from Heidi at 101 Cookbooks. It was for something called Okonomiyaki. She had been in Japan and was watching someone make it through a glass window and a man, seeing her confusion, told her it was Japanese pizza. I found out the word ‘okonomiyaki’ translates into two words: okonomi, which means ‘as you like’, and yaki, which means ‘grilled’. Together, you get okonomiyaki: ‘grilled as you like’. Okonomiyaki is sort of a cross between pancakes and pizza although it's not a fluffy pancake and really does not resemble pizza a bit except maybe its shape and the fact that it has toppings. The Japanese pile things on- like thinly sliced pork, red ginger, yakisoba noodles, tempura crumbs, corn, green onion, squid, shrimp, dried bonito flakes, bean sprouts, yam, kimchi and more. Hardly our familiar pizza. Someone referred to it as Japanese street food. There appear to be an awful lot of ways to make this dish, look what I found online- the simplest version to one with tons of toppings:

So I double checked with my expert. I have a good friend in New York City whose husband owns several Japanese restaurants- and she is a frequent visitor to Japan where his family lives. She makes Okonomiyaki all the time for her family and I got into an email discussion with her. Vicki makes a basic pancake batter (flour, eggs, water) and then adds some Japanese yam. She chops up shrimp, squid or octopus and along with some shredded cabbage, mixes everything together. Then Vicki oils a pan, adds thin slices of pork to the pan and pours on the cabbage/pancake mixture. Browns it on both sides. She tops it with a sauce: a mixture of ketchup, Japanese mayo, and Japanese Okonomiyaki sauce (which she found in Japanese food store) and the final touches are thinly sliced scallion, pickled red ginger and dried bonito flakes. My daughter has had it many times at Vicki's house and says it’s to die for.

But back to the 101 Cookbooks recipe: Heidi makes her own style of Okonomiyaki - she calls it the California version and I made it last week. I did not feel guilty. My tummy was fine. I did not feel full. I did not splurge on calories. It was cheap to make. I also did not think it needed a sauce. But then, I didn’t add toppings either. And I really I liked it the way it was: perfect.

This is quite a simple recipe really- Vicki was intrigued by the addition of almonds, which appears to be unusual. But I loved the crunchiness they gave the dish. So come up with your own version- think up topping ideas if you want them, but give this basic recipe a try to start with, even if you never dreamed you would like cabbage. Believe me, you will.

Okonomiyaki (Japanese Pizza)
(Adapted from 101 Cookbooks )

2 cups cabbage, finely shredded
1 cup leeks, well washed and sliced
2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour or all purpose flour
2 pinches fine sea salt
2 large eggs, beaten
olive oil
toasted slivered almonds and chopped chives for garnish

Trim the ends and then slice the leeks lengthwise and clean them well under cold running water. Slice them. Combine the cabbage, leeks, flour and salt in a bowl.

Add the flour and toss together with your hands until everything is dusted with flour. Add the beaten eggs and mix until everything is well coated.

Heat a large skillet and add a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Reduce heat to medium and add the cabbage mixture to the pan. Press it firmly into a pancake shape, as flat as you can get it.

Fry for about 5 minutes or until the bottom is golden brown. Slide it out of the pan onto a plate, then place another plate on top of it and flip the pancake. You will need to add more olive oil at this point. Then slide the pancake with the browned side up back into the skillet. Press down again and fry until it is golden on this side as well- perhaps another 3-5 minutes. Slide the pancake out on your serving plate or cutting board and sprinkle with the toasted almonds and chopped chives. Cut into wedges and serve.

Serves 2-3 people.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts with Thumbnails