Okonomiyaki (Japanese Pancakes)

Travel to Japan from the comfort of your kitchen with this delicious breakfast recipe from SymmetryBreakfast. Customise these savoury pancakes to your preference.

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Introduction

I consider these pancakes to have healthy intentions - that may or may not put you off. We visited an okonomiyaki restaurant in Tokyo, and a large bowl of finely shredded vegetables arrived at the table with the pancake batter and eggs buried underneath. After mixing vigorously for a minute you then have to tip the lot out on to an enormous hot plate. Flipping requires two wide spatulas and is a skill in itself. (I actually hurt my back pretty badly in the process of flipping, as the table is very low and I am very tall, so watch out!)

Although more of a snack than a breakfast, okonomiyaki literally translates as 'cooked how you like it' and there is no one recipe for what you can put in this pancake - it's really up to you. The thick batter almost always contain shredded cabbage and beansprouts, but after that it's optional to add bacon, spring onion, shredded carrot, pork belly, salted duck egg, cooked noodles, mushrooms, squid, octopus, cheese - the list is endless. Just make sure everything is thinly sliced so that it cooks quickly, and finish with okonomi sauce, Japanese mayo (lots), dried seaweed (aonori) and plenty of katsuobushi flakes. One of my favourites! 

Makes 1 giant or 2 individual pancakes
Easy

Ingredients

2 eggs
200ml dashi stock, cold
10g katsuobushi (also known as bonito) flakes - tissue-paper-thin, dried fermented tuna
300g okonomiyaki flour - any of your choice, available online from the Japan Centre
200g cabbage, shredded
1 carrot, grated
2 spring onions, sliced
6 thick slices unsmoked bacon
100g of your favourite fillings (optional)
Toppings:
Okonomi sauce
Japanese mayo -Kewpie brand is my favourite
2 tsp aonori (seaweed)
a few big pinches of katsuobushi flakes

Instructions

Combine the eggs, dashi stock and katsuobushi in a bowl and whisk. Add the okonomiyaki flour and stir until you have a smooth, thick batter. Add the shredded cabbage, carrot and spring onions and mix thoroughly. 

In a cold frying pan with steep sides, lay out the bacon so it covers the entire surface. You might need to trim it to get it to fit. Pour the cabbage mix over and tidy up the edges. It is quite a thick pancake, at least 3cm thick.

Cover the pan with a lid, turn the heat up to medium and cook for 10 minutes until golden brown on the bottom and you can see that the bacon is cooked.

Slide the pancake on to a plate, invert the pan and flip the whole thing over. Continue to cook for another ten minutes. 

You can serve direct from the pan at the table or slide the pancake on to a plate. The classic method of topping an okonomiyaki is to have a huge pot of okonomi sauce that is brushed all over the pancake with a freestyle zigzag of mayonnaise. Let your artistic side go wild!

Spinkle the aonori all over and finish with a big pinch of katsuobushi in the middle, which will gently wave as the heat rises from the pancake. 

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