The story behind this dinner recipe is pretty simple. The magic of Youtube's recommendations sent me to watch Eater's videos on Okonomiyaki in Tokyo. After a few days, both José and I were looking at each other craving this dish. I'm not sure if it's fair to call this dish Okonomiyaki since I've made some adjustments based on ingredients we had on hand, but essentially, it's a quick weeknight attempt at this Japanese dish.
Admittedly, neither of us has been to Japan or even had this dish in a restaurant, so the rendition below is a mashup of looking at quite a few recipes, eyeballing how we like flavors (seems fair game given the translation of the dish's name in English), and then attempting it with ingredients we could easily find in the grocery store downstairs.
I largely relied on Just One Cookbook's recipe for both the Okonomiyaki and for a homemade version of the Okonomiyaki sauce, but then went off-book a bit. What I liked about Nami's recipe was the addition of mirin to the batter, but as I was adding the mirin while cooking, I realized, that if I used beer instead, it would be a really interesting combination of German and Japanese cuisines meeting. So I may try that next time. Something I did here which seemed a bit different from other recipes I've seen is I added fresh ginger to the pancake batter. I saw it pickled on top as a garnish, but for some reason the idea of adding it in fresh to the batter itself called me. Ultimately I found it to be really delicious.
Of course, when I went to the supermarket to pick up some scallions for the dish, they were cleared out of most produce, including these little alliums. So I decided to use chives, which they had and I quite liked the subtle flavor they gave to the dish, so I might go this route in the future regardless of availability.
One thing I'd really recommend to make this dish is to make sure you slice the cabbage as finely as possible. I've tried to make this in the past and probably shredded the cabbage a little thicker. What made dinner tonight really shine was how finely shredded the cabbage was, which I did with a mandoline slicer. This thing has moved to three cities with me and is nearly 10 years old so it seems like a good investment.
2 tsp mirin
2" fresh ginger, sliced paper-thin and then minced
2 tsp olive oil
1kg white cabbage, shredded
10g chives, cut into 2" pieces
100g mung bean sprouts
3 slices English-style bacon
1 tbsp tomato paste
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp agave
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 sheet nori, sliced finely
Mix the batter ingredients together in a medium bowl. Set aside while you prepare the other ingredients. Mix all the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl, set aside. In a separate bowl, mix the the mayonnaise with the apple cider vinegar and set aside.
Heat a large sauté pan on medium-high heat until it's hot. Add 1/3 the olive oil into the pan and let it get hot. Once hot reduce the heat to medium, add in enough batter to make a large circle on the pan (a little less than 1/3) - spreading with the back of a spoon. Keep moving swiftly and add 1/3 the cabbage on top of the pancake, then 1/3 the scallions, 1/3 of the bean sprouts, and give it a good salt. Lay 1/3 of the bacon on top and drizzle about a tablespoon of batter over the top of everything. Let it cook for a minute or so until the bottom crisps up.
Using two spatulas (or one very large one), flip the pancake cabbage stack over so what was the top, is now the bottom. Let it cook until the bacon is fully cooked through and the cabbage has wilted quite a bit. Then slide off onto a plate.
Keep the pan hot and crack an egg into the pan to create a sort of egg pancake. Simply break the yolk with the spatula and shape like you did earlier with the batter. As soon as possible (preferably before the egg fully cooks) slide the cabbage pancake back on top of it and let the whole thing cook for a minute or two or until the egg is no longer raw.
Flip the cabbage pancake stack onto a plate so the flour-based pancake is on the bottom and the egg is on the top.
Brush the pancake with 1/3 the sauce, drizzle the mayonnaise over it, and garnish with the sliced nori. Repeat steps 2-5 for the second and third pancakes.
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- Julia Feld