Okonomiyaki, savory Japanese Cabbage Pancakes topped with shrimps, bacon, and a variety of sprinkles. Delicious slathered with mayonnaise and okonomiyaki sauce.
The first time I ever tasted Okonomiyaki (Japanese Cabbage Pancakes) was when I was a teenager. A new Japanese supermarket chain opened in the city. They had a food court in the basement selling some every day Japanese food as well as local fare. There were long queues because people were curious and wanted to try something “new”. I joined the lines for my first taste of Japanese food. I remember having to take it home to further crisp it up to my liking. Of course at that time, I did not know I would later have the opportunity to taste the “real thing” in Osaka. 🙂
So, with the first harvest of cabbage last week from Our Vegetable Garden, I decided to make these tasty Japanese Cabbage Pancakes. I am so excited to show you this baby that weighed about 1 pound 5 ounces (600g) after peeling off the damaged outer leaves. This harvest is especially sweet because at one point we thought we had lost the entire crop of 6 green and 6 purple cabbages to slugs. Fortunately, we were able to flush out the slugs with salt and they continue to grow. Hopefully, the others will grow to at least this size. The purple cabbages are a little slow but they are coming along.
I was a little worried at first that the inside of the cabbage would not be of any good. I halved it cautiously and to my delight, it was perfect! I did a happy dance in the kitchen. 🙂 Two thirds of this organic pesticide free cabbage (about 12 oz/340g) was used to make 4 pancakes, one for each person. Each pancake was about 8 inches in diameter and 3/4 to an inch thick. They were good size pancakes and one per person was more than enough.
Okonomiyaki literally means grill as you like it. I guess this implies that you can throw in whatever you like into the pancake. However, cabbage is a must-have ingredient. Shrimp and slices of fatty pork are pretty standard. Most people here would use bacon for the same effect. Okonomiyaki sauce can be substituted with thick classic Worcestershire sauce and Kewpie mayonnaise with regular mayonnaise in a squirt bottle. Aonori (green seaweed flakes), katsuobushi (dried shaved bonito flakes, and beni shoga (pickled ginger strips) are all nice to have. If you don’t have these garnishes, do not let them deter you. Give it a try anyway and get these specialty ingredients when you are ready.
- 2⅔ cups all-purpose flour (400g)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1¼ cups water (300ml)
- 2 large eggs (lightly beaten)
- 12 oz cabbage (thinly sliced) (340g)
- 4 green onions (thinly sliced at a diagonal)
- 6 oz shrimps (peeled and deveined) (170g)
- 6 strips bacon (cut into halves)
- 4 tbsp vegetable oil
- Combine all-purpose flour and salt in a large bowl. Pour in 1¼ cups (300ml) water. Gently mix until just combine. Add beaten eggs.
- Mix in half of the cabbage and green onions. Add the remaining half of the cabbage and green onions and mix until just combined.
- Heat a heavy bottom pan on the stove on medium heat. When hot, add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Swirl to coat the pan. Scoop a quarter of the batter into the middle of the pan. Pat with spatula to form an 8 inch disk.
- Place a few shrimps and 3 halved bacon strips on the top. Press it down onto the pancake with a spatula. Allow pancake to cook and set for about 4 minutes.
- When pancake is set, carefully turn the pancake over. You may have to use two spatulas to turn the pancake. Cook for another 4 minutes or until shrimps have curled and bacon is brown and slightly crisp.
- Turn the pancake over again and continue to cook for another 2 minutes or until the bottom is golden and slightly crisp. Transfer to a plate.
- Squirt okonomiyaki sauce and mayonnaise, criss-crossing each other. Then sprinkle with green onions, aonori, and katsuoboshi. Place a small heap of beni shoga on the top.
- Serve immediately.
Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day! 😎