Monday, December 10, 2007
Not your ordinary breakfast. But yet, it came out of a box, and not a cereal box. It's basically a savory pancake which is particularly popular in the Kansai area of Japan. This version is an Osaka-style okonomiyaki where all the ingredients are mixed together, rather than the crepe like Hiroshima version where ingredients are layered, which was my first exposure to this dish. It's one of my favorite Japanese dishes. Any number of my Japanese friends of the male gender have told me that in Japan it's considered 'women's' food, or snack food.
I was tempted by the ease of a prepared mix, although I've made these from scratch in the past. The box offered the simplicity of mixing eggs, water and cut cabbage into the shrimp-flavored mix. It also had the powdered seaweed topping inside and suggested pairing that with mayonnaise. Mayonnaise on okonomiyaki is a relatively recent innovation, and one that I'm not totally crazy about. Luckily, I had some Otafuku okomiyaki sauce (Hiroshima style) and dried fish flakes (Katsuobushi) to round out the toppings for a more traditional rendition. All the things to make this are easily found at Nijiya Market in Japantown.
After mixing all the ingredients together you pour a good amount into a hot frying pan, or grill and cook like a pancake. I think that I should have added more cabbage than the package called for, and the first pancake came out slightly thinner than normal, but still quite tasty.
Like a pancake, when you see bubbles on the top, you can turn it over, and cook to done. In Japan these are most often prepared by yourself on a grill table and the heat adjusted down when finished. In the absence of that, plating it is just fine. When it is done and plated, you spread the okonomiyaki sauce on it, add mayonnaise (I didn't) if you like, then sprinkle the powdered seaweed and top with the fish flakes that dance in the heat. I'm pretty sure this was the first time I'd served Dad okonomiyaki, and I took a chance making such an unusual dish for breakfast. However it was a good gamble as Dad commented several times how much he liked it.