I feel like I might scare people away if I write posts that are too long. With that in mind I decided to split things up a bit. I might just separate food/cooking posts into their own realm because that would give you more digestible chunks (nice pun, right?).
My plan was to make okonomiyaki. Okonomiyaki is kind of a pancake and also kind of an omelet. That's only for description purposes though. It really just holds its own as okonomiyaki. In a short moment I'll tell you just want goes into making this rather tasty meal.
Yesterday at work and the evening before that I spent time looking for recipes. I ever asked the English teacher how she made okonomiyaki. None of the pages or recipes I came across seemed quite right. The Japanese website cookpad had a plethora of recipes that I thought might be good but they weren't to my liking either. I came across a nice page, in English, that has many Japanese recipes. The Japanese author learned all of the recipes from her Japanese mother so they are pretty authentic by all means. While cooking is pretty interpretive, I still like to start with an original structure before adapting a recipe. The recipe was simple and authentic enough to meet my taste.
The main ingredient in okonomiyaki is chopped cabbage followed by an assortment of other smaller ingredients. Depending on the person and tastes, one can put anything in it. I put pickled red ginger and green onion in for some added flavor. Next time I'll probably throw in bean sprouts because those are so gooood. Before the vegetables are added you make a simple batter with some flour, eggs, and nagaimo. Nagaimo is an interesting vegetable to say the least. When you grate it against something it turns into a spit like liquid. It is used to bind things together in Japanese cooking.
Not only does it look like spit but... well you can use your imagination for other insights. It is quite therapeutic to grind the nagaimo because it is so much softer than it appears. After mixing the flour, eggs, and this together you add some soup stock. Then you heat some oil in a pan and dribble a small amount of batter into it to make some deep fried batter pieces that will be put back into the mix later on. Here is what the mixture looks like. I need to chop the cabbage finer next time but this worked well.
After you mix all the ingredients together you plop them down in a circle in a hot pan or on a griddle. Then lay some thinly cut pork strips on top and cover with a lid. If this was cooked at a high temperature the batter would probably burn so I kept it pretty low like the recipe instructed. After 5 minutes or so you just flip it over and let it cook for another 4 minutes uncovered. Then flip it one more time and put the toppings on your okonomiyaki. The typical is okonomiyaki sauce which I hear is a blend of soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, and other things. Nobody makes such sauces on their own unless you are a master or something. Japanese mayonnaise (similar to Miracle Whip if you know that its different than mayo) goes on along with finely shredded seaweed and fish flakes. The fish flakes almost looke like they are dancing from the heat.
The final outcome was quite delicious. The recipe and ingredients could be totally modified to whatever tastes you like or do not like. I happen to enjoy all of them. I should make a little less next time because I had extra. I will definitely make this again as I now have the ingredients and basic know how. If anything its a great conversation topic with Japanese people.
Next up, Gyudon (beef bowl with rice).