So I got the bright idea to try making one of my favorite Japanese dishes. Okonomiyaki has been described by many as the Japanese pizza because it is somewhat pancake-ish and is topped with various meats and vegetables then smothered in sauce. I had seen it made a few times while I was in Japan and it didn’t look TOO complicated. Apparently I either suck at remembering how it was made, or I just grossly underestimated the ordeal that is making okonomiyaki. For those of you that don’t know I will give you a lesson in its preparation, and those that already know, I will try to make it an entertaining description.
I wasn’t sure what went into this concoction so I scoured the net trying to find a recipe only to find that ever one of them varies wildly depending on who makes it. One of my friends had told me once that REAL okonomiyaki has some sort of Chinese Yam in it, so I discarded any recipes that didn’t make mention of that. After having found one I drove on down to the asian market and picked up all the stuff I thought I needed.
Basic stuff you need to get are flour, some eggs, green onion, a cabbage, a chinese yam, japanese mayonaise (Kyupi brand), okonomiyaki sauce (otafuku brand), katsubushi (dried fish flakes, and YES they are required), and dashi no moto (fish broth mix). This will make you a very very basic okonomiyaki, but we need to add some extra stuff to make it tasty. You can toss on anything that you think might be good and even some things you think wont. I chose squid and pork.
Grate or grind your yam (still not sure the best way to deal with this), then combine it in a BIG bowl with your flour and around 6 eggs or so. Toss in a couple dashes of your Dashinomoto and mix it up real good. Chop up your ENTIRE cabbage and mix it in with the batter, if it looks like a ridiculous amount of cabbage in there then you have the proportions about right.
Now go ahead and slice your pork into thin strips about .25″x.75″x1.5″ or whatever looks good to you. Then chop your green onion up in the way that green onion generally are chopped. Now we get to deal with the best part, SQUID.
I had never actually handled a squid before, so this was quite an adventure. Grab your squid by the head thingy and by the face and pull until they separate and all the guts fall on your lap, or somewhere else if you prefer. Toss the part with all the guts and legs hanging off on a plate or in a bowl and make a snide comment to your friend that his dinner is done. Then cut the little ‘ear’ flaps off of the head. You will probably notice some other random guts hanging on to the inside, go ahead and try to yank those out and flick them at someone. Apparently squids actually have a backbone, but it looks more like a plastic straw. REALLY. Grab this thing and yank it out. Now if you have ever seen squid served up then you will probably remember that it is white and what you are probably looking at now is kinda off white with purplish specks. Thats cuz these things actually have skin and you now get to rip it off. Fun huh? After you figure out a good method for that let me know. Then you wanna slice it into like 1″x1″ squares. Fry this up either with the pork or separately. You don’t have to fry it very long.
Now we have an ass-ton of ingredients and you should properly feel overwhelmed. So lets get rid of some of these things. Find the hugest pan you can find and get it hot. If you have a big hot plate thing then use that. You are gonna dump the batter on it and then cover it with all of the other ingredients and anything else you thought might be good. The best one I’ve had also had cheese and noodles in it. Let this puppy fry a bit and then flip it. DOESNT THIS SOUND INSANELY EASY!?!?! Yeh, you are looking at a Mt. Fuji of food and you are just supposed to casually flip it! If you figure out a plausible way of doing this for gots sake let me know. Cook on this side and then flip onto a plate.
Now we need to smother it in our mayonnaise and okonomiyaki sauce and then toss a couple of hand fulls of our katsubushi on there. The katsubushi should make it look like its all crawling and squirming. Appetizing? HELLS YES!! Cut yourself off a piece and yell at your friends cuz you have just made the infamous Okonomi-friggin-yaki!!
If you follow my instructions to a ‘T’ then you should have a couple of piles of stuff frying in different pans and then thrown onto your plates in a huff then irritably coated in sauces and thrown at your guests. Should taste about right, but will look nothing like real okonomiyaki. If only I had taken pictures of this tasty abomination…