Today Fidget is pulling out all the stops for this celebrated Japanese dish, the most traditional from the mighty city of Osaka.
Okonomi loosely translates to ‘as you like it’, which means that – beyond the basics – you can add your own choice of toppings. Something for everyone, then. Could this be why it’s also known as the ‘pizza of Japan’?
Advised by the Kansai region’s top okonomiyaki expert Mikiko Miyazaki, here’s how Fidget has learned to make his okonomiyaki. The quantities will yield a generous okonomiyaki, or two smaller ones.
For the batter you will need: 100g okonomiyaki flour, 100ml water and one medium egg. To complete the ‘base’ you will add 150g shredded green cabbage and 3 or 4 rashers of bacon (pork belly), cut in 5–7cm lengths. To that, you will add your favourite toppings: we used king prawns (about 80g, deveined, butterflied and quickly fried in a little vegetable oil), 5 or 6 spring onions (the green part too, all finely chopped) and 30g beni shoga (pickled ginger) chopped. You will also need okonomiyaki sauce (Otafuku comes highly recommended), mayonnaise, aonori (fine seaweed) and/or katsuobushi (bonito flakes) to sprinkle on top.
Start by preparing all your ingredients: shred the cabbage quite finely, quickly pan fry the bacon so that it is ready to use, and finely chop the spring onions. Make the batter in a bowl by mixing okonomiyaki flour, water and egg. Add the shredded cabbage, most of the spring onions (reserve some for decoration), most of the beni shoga and the prawns. Mix quickly and then pour into a hot frying pan coated with a little vegetable oil. Shape it round and level the top, then cover with the bacon/pork slices.
Cook for 3–4min then turn over. If, like Fidget, you have the proper tools, you can use those and your natural kitchen skills to flip your okonomiyaki (hopefully in one piece). If not, just use a flat lid or a plate to turn it. Cook on the other side for another 3–4min – you might want to press it gently to make sure it cooks thoroughly.
When cooked, flip it out onto a plate (rasher side up), brush 2–3tbsp okonomiyaki sauce over the surface, sprinkle with the remaining spring onions and beni shoga, make a zig-zag pattern with mayonnaise, sprinkle with aonori and…tuck in at once. Umai! Mecha-kucha umai!
It’s all in the presentation. And as nothing escapes the eagle eye of our okonomiyaki expert, a timely reminder that the zig-zag decoration is done with the mayonnaise, not the sauce 🙂