Cut into wedges, okonomiyaki makes a good snack for a party or a gaggle of 4-year-olds.
I never told you about the okonomiyaki obsession of late 2010. Right there in the middle of Christmas hysteria, between baking 10,000 cookies and tracking down mittens and addressing cards, I was seized, simply seized, by a need for okonomiyaki, or a large Japanese pancake. I know that okonomiyaki is a large Japanese pancake because I had one once. It was good, even really good, but seriously, where did this sudden obsession come from?
I can't say. But I for one, heed the call, especially when it comes smack dab in the middle of Christmas hysteria. (Right. Respite from Christmas hysteria. That's where it came from.)
So, I put down the cookie sheet and scoured the internet. Eggs, eggs, eggs. Obviously, it's a large pancake - eggs are a traditional binder. Alternatively, grate some nagaimo to a sticky pulp. No. I need okonomiyaki now, and my vegetable crisper is fresh out of Japanese mountain yam. And then I remembered the most obvious source to turn to - the vegan Japanese cookbook right there on my own shelf.
And there was just the recipe that I was looking for - composed entirely of ingredients already present in my kitchen, easy to throw together, and producing results that perfectly satisfied my compulsion.
I was happy, and I rediscovered a great cookbook in the process - Japanese Cooking: Contemporary & Traditional [Simple, Delicious, and Vegan]. (How did this book almost completely leave my consciousness?)
The author, Miyoko Nishimoto Schinner, has a whole chapter on homey modern day classics - Japanese foods that have joined the lexicon in the last several generations - things like that big pancake and curry rice and katsu that she describes as the American equivalent of pizza and macaroni and cheese - comfort foods. Included in this chapter are even dishes not commonly seen outside of Japan, like a creamy sauce served over rice called doria.
I haven't tried that yet, but we did make a more traditional dish - a hearty winter miso soup variation with potatoes and onions to accompany the okonomiyaki. It was a perfect January meal - even for a mild Southern California evening - the meal was both hearty and light. I have at least 6 more recipes dog-eared to try in the coming weeks - fried tofu dumplings and a Japanese pilaf and spinach with sesame sauce.
How about you? Have you made anything from this cookbook?
Okonomiyaki [Simple, Delicious, and Vegan]
from Japanese Cooking: Contemporary & Traditional [Simple, Delicious, and Vegan] by Miyoko Nishimoto Schinner, reprinted with permission of the Book Publishing Company (I added a few of my own notes in parentheses.)
- 2 cups water (or broth - next time I'm going to try it with konbu stock)
- 1/4 pound regular tofu (or about 1/2 cup)
- 2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour (as usual, I went halfsies.)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 4 or 5 cups thinly sliced or slivered vegetables: onions, carrot matchsticks, cabbage, broccoli, green beans, mushrooms, etc. (Last night I used 2 shredded carrots, half a minced onion, and 4 large leaves of bok choy, crunchy parts finely chopped, leafy parts shredded)
Puree the water and tofu in a blender until smooth. Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl, and mix well. Pour in the liquid mixture, and mix lightly. Add the vegetables and mix well to combine.
Cook large pancakes on a lightly oiled skillet or griddle over medium-low heat until browned on both sides. Serve while hot with soy sauce or tonkatsu sauce.
Yield: 4 - 6 servings
Your Vegan Okonomiyaki Sauce
This is totally not traditional, and not at all Ms. Schinner's fault - it's a fairly wild departure from an approximation of what other people put on their okonomiyaki. It's also wildly delicious.
- 1/2 cup vegenaise
- 2 tablespoons kecap manis (or 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1 tablespoon maple syrup in the likely event that you don't keep this Indonesian condiment on hand.)
- 1 - 3 teaspoons sriracha hot sauce (or leave it out if you don't want it hot)
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
Stir together. Adjust to your taste. Serve with hot okonomiyaki.