Who’s that new superhero? I’ve never heard of that manga character! OK who?
Okonomiyaki is one of my kitchen heroes. There are more detailed definitions of it but basically, it’s a savoury pancake usually made with a base of shredded cabbage, eggs, water or dashi and flour. As with all Japanese cuisine, it is highly regional and there are as many variations as there are cooks.
When I have an overload of veggies and leftovers in the fridge, okonomiyaki is my go-to dish. Over the past few months, we’ve been inundated with leafy greens from our community garden plot and CSA, so much so that I find bunches of kale, chard, beet greens, collards and the likes lurking in every corner of the fridge. One way to use it up is to make a big batch of okonomiyaki, feast and feel virtuous about overeating all those healthy veggies.
This is particularly good for families with kids who claim they don’t like to eat veggies. Fry some up, give them some dipping sauces and they’ll eat their fair share of vegetal matter. Super-Okonomiyaki saves the day!
Okonomiyaki (sort of)
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
5 cups shredded sturdy leafy greens (cabbage, kale, collards, chard)
3 green onions, cut into 2 cm pieces
Oil for frying
Garnishes and dipping sauces (Japanese worcestershire, hot chili sauce, sweet soy sauce, even ketchup!)
In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and pepper. Whisk together and make a well in the middle.
Add eggs and a little water and start whisking, drawing in flour. Keep whisking and adding a little water at a time until a very thick batter forms. Don’t be tempted to add too much water. The veggies will often lose some water and make the batter thinner.
Using a wooden spoon, stir in veggies and green onions.
Heat a well seasoned cast iron pan or non-stick pan over medium heat. Add enough oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Scoop half of the batter into the pan and spread to the edges so that you have an even layer about 2 cm thick.
Cook on medium heat until the top begins to look dry and the bottom is brown and crusty. Flip over carefully and cook until the underside is brown. Remove from the pan and continue cooking remaining batter.
Cut into wedges and serve. Okonomiyaki is often topped with Japanese mayo, thick worcestershire, shredded nori, red pickled ginger and bonito flakes. But embellish as you like.
Makes 2 okonomiyaki
Variations are endless. Here are some recent combinations (mostly because I’ve needed to use up what was in the fridge).
-Bacon: While the pan is heating up place bacon slices in the pan, then top with batter.
-Late summer veggie combo: shredded kale and chard, julienned summer squash, corn, cooked ground beef
-Cabbage, onion, BBQ pork, mochi