Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Okonomiyaki: Bringing a bit of Japan to the Island


My husband, the farmer, used to be a meat and potatoes kind of guy. He always had freshly baked bread with every meal and he always had dessert after every meal.

Then he married me.

Now, he never knows what he's going to be eating for supper.

He loves food and loves the fact that now he gets to sample fare from different countries. He has acquired a taste for Japanese, Korean, and Thai food. Oh, he also loves Vietnamese, Indian, Filipino, and Caribbean food. In essence, he loves food. Plain and simple.

One of my favourite things to eat when I was teaching abroad was okonomiyaki. There was a quaint little okonomiyaki shop near the school I taught at. It was fabulous! It was a little hole in the wall a little dodgy looking nothing fancy, but the prices were great and the owner, Fumiko, was a lovely lady. Although we couldn't really communicate (she spoke no English and my Japanese was really basic), we got along great! We'd always laugh at our clumsy conversations. Most of the time, it ended up in us gesturing at each other. Too funny! I remember one time we mistakenly translated "sea weed" into "parsley". Hey, it was green and flaky!

Today, I was thinking of my days in Japan and all of a sudden had the craving for okonomiyaki. On a whim, I made okonomiyaki for lunch. It was probably more the memories I craved than the dish itself. In any case, Hubby enjoyed it. It has become one of his favourite dishes as well.

Okonomiyaki basically means "whatever you like, grilled" in Japanese. My Japanese students described it to me as a Japanese pizza or a Japanese pancake.
I taught and lived in Fukuyama, Hiroshima and this dish was really popular in Hiroshima and in Osaka. Hiroshima okonomiyaki and Osaka-style okonomiyaki differ in preparation and in appearance, but are equally delicious.

Here's my Island version of the dish:
Base:
1 cup flour
3/4 cup water
1 egg
1/8-1/4 of a cabbage

Toppings - any of the below:
Chicken
Roast pork or beef
Squid, Octopus, shrimp, other seafood
Corn
Mushrooms
Onion


Sauces:
Okonomiyaki sauce
Mayonnaise

1. Shred cabbage finely.
2. In a large mixing bowl, add beaten egg, water and flour. Mix ingredients together until smooth.
3. Add shredded/chopped cabbage.
4. Heat non-stick pan or skillet.
5. Chop up whatever ingredients you would like to include. I usually just use cut up bacon and shrimp.
6. I add the bacon to the pan to cook for a bit (it also gives a bit of oil so you don't have to add any to the pan). Basically, add your veggies or meats to the pan and cook them.
7. Arrange your cooked ingredients into a round form and make sure they are in the middle of the pan.
8. Add your cabbage and batter mixture on top, also in a round shape (as you would if making pancakes).
9. Let it cook through for five minutes (you can tell by the edges when it's time to flip it over).
10. Flip and let cook for another five to ten minutes.
11. Remove from pan and place on a plate.
12. Dress it up with a bit of mayo and a liberal serving of Okonomiyaki sauce!!

Enjoy!

Oh, it's best when eaten piping hot and straight from the griddle! :)

10 comments:

Azúcar said...

See, now THAT'S real food! Casseroles my butt.

hotmommy said...

{[[[[[[[[[[[lol}]]]]}}}}}}}
c, you do realize that your google ad sense ad says "meet japanese ladies" right? hah hah! just thought that was hillarious!

have you tried the okonomi house in toronto?

the word verification today is "twool" as in "he's such a twool"!

Deb said...

oh, C. i love you for your stories of Japan (because i'm so jealous you lived there...and speak even a little japanese), and for your FOOD and recipes!!!! this sounds so easy and fun to make too! i really want to try it!

i need to make a folder of all C's recipes!

C said...

Azucar:
LOVE your casserole story!!!

C said...

HM:
LOL! I just saw that! Crazy!

Yeah, I've tried the Okonomiyaki House in Toronto. It's not the same, but close enough to the real thing. They also have green tea ice cream!!! I always found it funny that Hagen Daaz has green tea ice cream! It seemed an unusual flavour for ice cream, but hey! In Japan it's popular! I actually really, REALLY like it!! :)

HAHA! Twool!

C said...

Deb:
I big fuzzy heart YOU!!! :)

Dina said...

ohhh that looks soo yummm. i used to LOVE the Korean version and am now searching recipes for them.
You MUST come to TO this summer so we can go for some really yummy delish food!!

Frau Guten Tag said...

are you actually Japanese or did you just happen to live there?

how did you learn to make so many different nationalities of food? I've always wanted to learn to do stuff like that, but don't know where to begin....

C said...

Dina:
I KNOW!!! We sooooooo have to plan a trip to TO again. I miss going to restaurants with you!!! I remember going for spicy Korean food with you! LOL! Miss you!

C said...

Frau:
No, I'm not Japanese. I went overseas to teach and spent two years living and teaching in Japan. When I went there, I had absolutely no knowledge of the language, customs, or anything. BIG MISTAKE! It was a great experience though and I loved learning about the culture, history, people, etc. Sometimes I wish I were still there.

As for knowledge of different cultures, well...I was raised in Montreal and Toronto, and both cities are multicultural and diverse. My years teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) gave me the opportunity to learn about and interact with students of different cultures (Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Brazilian, Venezuelan, Argentinian, Swiss, French, Italian, German, etc).

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City girl moves to the country, falls in love, and marries a farmer. She tries to incorporate her city ways with her new country lifestyle and blogs to keep in touch with friends, family & students who live far, far away :) Can this city girl go country? Watch as she learns all sorts of exciting things about life on the farm and in a small rural community. *UPDATE* We are now parents! Our baby girl was born on Nov. 11, 2008 (at 28 weeks gestation- 12 weeks premature, but she's quite the trooper)!!!
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