This recipe by Alice Shaw suggests something a little bit different for Pancake Tuesday.
The word okonomiyaki may initially seem a bit of a tongue twister to your average Brit, but this tasty Japanese cuisine is much easier to prepare than it is to pronounce. Translating as “what you like, cooked“, the pancake-like dish always has an egg and cabbage base, but the other ingredients can be adapted as desired.
I have kept my version of okonomiyaki pretty simple with an okra filling. I like to use fresh ingredients where possible so I picked up the okra, cabbage and spring onions (just look at the size of them!) from Brixton market. The simple, savoury flavours go really well together, however, the beauty of this adaptable recipe is that you can include anything from bacon to prawns if you want more layers.
While the actualisation of this Japanese meal varies by region and personal preference in its home country, the sauces which adorn the filling food are a more permanent feature. For me, these delicious, umami toppings are probably the best part of the dish and they certainly complement the flavours of the Japanese pancake. It can be quite difficult to find Okonomiyaki sauce in the UK, but Wing Tai supermarket in Electric Avenue stock the Bulldog variety intermittently (you want the thick version which has a dark orange label) and I have also included a recipe for a similar topping below just in case.
Okonomiyaki (makes 2)
- 40g plain flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 80ml water
- 1 large egg
- 150g cabbage
- 3 large spring onions
- 100g okra (plus toppings of your choice)
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
For the sauce
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 teaspoon honey
Sieve the flour, salt and baking powder into a large bowl, and add the water a little at a time to make a paste. Beat in the egg until you have a smooth, fairly runny mixture.
Chop the cabbage and spring onion into thin slices- the finer you cut the vegetables, the easier it will be to mold into shape when cooking. Cut the okra into chunkier slices. Add all the vegetables to the bowl and mix until covered with the batter.
Heat the oil to a medium temperature in a large frying pan and add half the okonomiyaki batter. Immediately use a spatula to shape the batter into a rough circle and flatten evenly to around 1.5 cm thick. Repeat with the other half until you have two pancakes.
After about 3 minutes flip the pancake, and cook for a further 3 minutes on the opposite side. Continue cooking and flipping until well browned on both sides and firm.
If you haven’t been able to pick up any okonomiyaki sauce, you can make a homemade version while the pancake is cooking by combining the ingredients above into a thick sauce for drizzling.
Once fully cooked, place the okonomiyaki onto a plate and top with okonomiyaki sauce and mayonnaise. Serve while hot.