Approx cost: €3.50
Approx calories (per serving): ~400
Approx preparation and cooking time: 40 mins
Okonomiyaki is a type of Japanese pancake – the specific ingredients can vary a great deal, after all, even the name encourages modification according to taste: Okonomi, meaning “what you like” and yaki meaning “grilled”. Each region of Japan will usually have its own specific style, so the one I’m making is probably no specific style. The first time I had this was in a restaurant in Paris – the noodle place I usually go to was packed so I popped into the place next door. I have to say, I wasn’t entirely sold on the idea of a fried cabbage pancake at first glance but I was pleased I did afterwards – It was really great, and it’s a whole load of fun to make at home too. I only had red cabbage at home, which gave everything a lovely purple hue. If you can get your hands on it, try and find some Katsuobushi shavings to sprinkle on top before adding the sauce(s) – especially if you’re making a fish or shrimp pancake – for an extra delicious touch.
- 175g Minced Beef
– ~1 quarter of a Red or White Cabbage
– 1 Onion
– 1 egg
– 6 tbsps Plain Flour
– 6 tbsps Milk
– 3 tsps Chilli Purée
– 1 bunch Asparagus Spears
– ~1 tbsp + 2 tsps Sunflower Oil
– Okonomiyaki Sauce (Similar to Worcestershire Sauce, but sweeter and thicker)
- Start off by whisking the Milk and Flour together in a large bowl. Once blended, add in the egg and whisk until you have a thick batter. The mixture should be thick but still able to be poured – if it’s too thick (or not thick enough) add in a little extra milk or flour accordingly.
- Next, remove the stalk from the cabbage and chop very finely. If you have one available, use a Mandoline. Peel and chop the Onion roughly and transfer the chopped cabbage and onion to the bowl with the batter and mix well to ensure the cabbage is well coated. Don’t worry if the amount of batter compared to cabbage seems low – you don’t need much batter, as the primary taste and ingredient of the pancake should be the cabbage itself – not the mix binding it together.
- Add a teaspoon each or so of Salt and Pepper to the cabbage and then heat the Sunflower Oil in a large frying pan. When hot, you can start to cook the pancake. You can either split the mixture into two and make two separate pancakes, keeping the first hot in the oven while you cook the second, or make one large one and split it in half at the end. This time around I made one large one, but you tend to achieve better results if you make two smaller ones. Transfer the cabbage mix (or half of it) to the frying pan and place it in a clump in the centre of the pan. Push it down with a spoon or spatula, trying to keep the shape as round as possible. It should be just over 2 cm thick. Fry on one side for about 5 minutes before carefully flipping over and frying again for another 5 minutes. Use a wide spatula to flip it and do it quite fast. Despite looking loose, it should turn quite easily. Flip once again and cook for 5 minutes and finally flip again and cook for 5 minutes. While it’s frying you can move onto step 4.
- You can obviously choose any topping you like – pressing some shrimps into the pancake before you flip it the first time is really good, but in this case I opted for something very quick and easy. Put the 2 tsps of Sunflower Oil into a saucepan and heat. When hot, add in the meat and fry through. Once cooked, add in the Chilli Purée and stir well. Continue cooking until you have cooked away any meat juices. You can also add in freshly chopped herbs or garlic if you have it to hand.
- Finally, wash the Asparagus spears and snap off the bottoms of the stalks about half-way up. You’ll find the best place to snap them easily. Take each end and bend them gently in the centre and they should just snap by themselves. Bring a small pan of water to the boil and plunge the asparagus into the boiling water for about 3 minutes, until the Asparagus has turned a darker green. Place the pancake on a plate and top with the meat or other topping. Squeeze lines of Okonomiyaki sauce going one way, and mayonnaise going the other, and then drain the asparagus and arrange next to the pancake and enjoy!