Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Home Made Okonomiyaki お好み焼き

Japanese food is great stuff and I'm loving the fact that it's everywhere here in Japan! Funny how that seems to work. You'd think that's a no-brainer, but for some expats, Japanese food is something they only eat when they go out to dine. Within the confines of their own apartments or houses, 'Western' cuisine or that of their own native countries is what they consume on a day to day basis.

when I lived in South Korea years ago, I attempted making Korean food at home. Normally it ended up a disaster and it took my stomach years to forgive me for it. I'm sure it was the gochujeong (hot pepper paste) that I toyed with in such a haphazard way that really did me in.

Japanese food seems to be far more forgiving. At least, when I attempt to cook it at home, it is relatively edible. Luckily, my wonderful wife (who happens to be Japanese) is a kick-ass cook. We normally take turns cooking. On Sunday night she whipped up a batch of one of my favorite Japanese foods and a point of pride for the people of Osaka; okonomiyaki.

According to Wikipedia, okonomiyaki お好み焼き, is a Japanese savoury pancake containing a variety of ingredients. The name is derived from the word okonomi, meaning "what you like" or "what you want", and yaki meaning "grilled" or "cooked" (cf. yakitori and yakisoba). Okonomiyaki is mainly associated with Kansai or Hiroshima areas of Japan, but is widely available throughout the country. Toppings and batters tend to vary according to region.

Osaka Okonomiyaki - Kansai (Osaka)-style okonomiyaki is the predominant style of the dish, found throughout most of Japan. The batter is made of flour, grated yam, water or dashi, eggs and shredded cabbage, and usually contains other ingredients such as green onion, meat (generally pork or bacon), octopus, squid, shrimp, vegetables, kimchi, mochi or cheese. Okonomiyaki is sometimes compared to an omelette or a pancake and may be referred to as "a Japanese pancake", or even "Osaka soul food"

Let's take a look at what was happening in my kitchen last Sunday night and a few of the things you need to do okonomiyaki (Kansai style) right.

Some of the toppings (once the okonomiyaki is cooked) include "tonkatsu" sauce. This sauce is normally poured on top of "tonkatsu" which is a breaded and deep-fried pork cutlet.

"Karashi" or Japanese mustard. it has a lot more kick that American style "French's" mustard! You mix it with the sauces that you pour on the cooked okonomiyaki.

Japanese folks love mayonaise (the white bottle). We also mixed "ousta" sauce (I think it's like Worcestershire sauce)with the tonkatsu sauce.

Okonomiyaki wouldn't be complete with a healthy sprinkling of dried sea weed (nori) flakes on top!

"Bonita" flakes. Dried smoked bonita fish.

The batter, pre-cooking. Some of the ingredients included, shredded cabbage, eggs, shrimp, green onion, noodles and pork.

The beautiful okonomiyaki after I added all the awesome toppings!

"Bon appetite!"

By the way, this food goes VERY well with an ice cold glass of draft beer!

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