My friend Pauline’s birthday this year is out of the ordinary. While most birthdays will have the staple cakes, spaghetti, and finger foods, we were treated to a unique culinary experience that is literally made in Japan.
Pau, together with boyfriend Yuji were very busy manning the kitchen when I arrived. The moment I was seated, Yuji served to me in a cute blue plate this pancake-like food he calls Okonomiyaki. I met the dish with familiarity since I tried it before from a local food cart near my place. However, I was quite surprised when I actually saw it because it was flat, as opposed to the round ping-pong sized balls that I used to buy. Misconception number two came in when I asked if this is the same Okonomiyaki that uses only vegetables. I was wrong because it actually varies, depending on what part of Japan you are in.
Let us learn a little bit more information about Okonomiyaki. It is derived actually from two words “okonomi” which means “what you like” and “yaki” which means grilled or cooked. It is very popular in Hiroshima, but is widely present in other parts of Japan. It has been said to have evolved from Funoyaki which is a crepe like pancake made of wheat gluten (fu) or flour mixed with water or sake and served with a sansho, or black pepper-flavored, miso topping. It is served during High Tea ceremonies during the 16th century.
I asked Pau all about the ingredients and how to cook Okonomiyaki. Here’s what you will need:
- 1 head Cabbage
- 100 G Okonomiyaki Powder ( can be bought in Japanese Specialty Groceries / International section of supermarkets)
- Pickled Ginger
- Ham (optional)
- Okonomiyaki Sauce
- Powdered Nori
- Okonomiyaki Sauce
- Nori Powder
- Bonito Shavings
- Julienne cabbage
- Peel the shrimps, then cut into quarters. saute until color turns orange, remove from fire and set aside
- In a mixing bowl, put in 100g of Okonomiyaki Powder. Alternately combine eggs and water until desired thickness of the batter is achieved or until the batter becomes smooth
- Add cabbage, pickled ginger and cooked shrimps, ham into the batter and mix well
- Heat up frying pan with a little bit of oil in it
- Cook the mixture by batch, about 1 cup each, making sure all the solid ingredients are present until it reaches a very light brown, and flip to the other side to cook
- Remove from frying pan, and garnish with Okonomiyaki sauce, Mayonnaise, Nori Powder and Bonito Shavings
- Enjoy! Best eaten while it is hot
I hope you try it at home. It is a good way to show your creativity by decorating your Okonomiyaki as you like it. And believe you me, you will like it. Here’s Yuji holding a freshly cooked Okonomiyaki.