Friday, July 15, 2011

Mimicing Japanese cooking in Bangalore - Okonomiyaki

I brought as many Japanese ingredients (mostly dried foods) as I could pack into my "small" suitcase (according to my hubby, it is not "small" but I have to insist it was "small") from Japan recently. But you can actually mimic Japanese cooking by using only the stuff you can get here in Bangalore.

One of them is the dish called "Okonomiyaki." "O" is an honorable prefix, "konomi" means "what you like", and "yaki" means "bake or grill." Basically it is a Japanese style pancake (not a sweet kind though) with whatever the ingredients you like in it.

The basic ingredients for Okonomiyaki are: flour, egg, cabbage, and water. Yep that's it! The most important thing, however, is the sauce, and typically in Japan it comes in an ready-to-use bottle or tube. Here, you can prepare it by mixing the worcestershire sauce (1 table spoon), ketchup (1 table spoon), honey (1 tea spoon), and oyster sauce (1 tea spoon).

In addition to the basic ingredients, you can mix the batter with shrimp, squid, very thinly sliced pork (which you cannot probably get that easily here), or vegetables like scallion, corn, or mushrooms, etc. I also put cheese most of the time, as my hubby loves it.

Here is how you make it:
1) Slice or mince cabbage leaves (you will need at least 1/2 head of cabbage, and make sure it is well dried out)
2) Slice any veggies if you want to add them
3) If you want to mix shrimp or squid, cook them lightly in advance as well (pat them dry)
4) Mix 1 cup of flour (you can also add 1 tea spoon of baking powder if you have it, but if not don't worry about it) with approx. 1 cup of water. You want to make sure that the batter has the consistency of pancake (not too think but not too loose). Add water as you like to get the right consistency. Mix well.
5) Sprinkle some salt and pepper (if you happen to have some Japanese "dashi no moto", which I doubt, put it in instead).
6) Add sliced cabbage and egg to the mixture. Mix well with a big spoon.
7) Add other ingredients. Btw, we also put "tenkasu" which is a deep-fried flour batter. You can get these in a bag in Japan, but here you just have to make it if you really want to put it into Okonomiyaki. So, I made a quick Okura tempura before making the Okonomiyaki and made tenkasu out of it. But, of course you can skip this.
8) Once everything is mixed, heat up the large frying pan, drizzle oil, and dump the mixture into the pan (lower the heat to low to medium). Spread the batter into approx. 2cm thickness.
9) Bake one side until it is done and turn it over and bake the other side (I usually do 8 mins on one side and 5 mins on the other, and I may turn it over again and bake a little bit more as needed).
10) Place Okonomiyaki on the plate, paint the sauce on top of it, put some mayonnaise, and sprinkle some Katsuobushi (if you happened to have it, which I doubt), and you are ready to eat!

Btw, the mayo here tastes different. Actually mayo in the US tastes much different than the mayo in Japan as well. For Okonomiyaki, I like Japanese mayo, which you can make by adding some lemon or lime juice with a pinch of salt into the Indian mayo. Enjoy!

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