Okonomi-yaki is a stuffed pancake similar to a crepe. The standard type is filled with lots of cabbage and small portion of protein such as thinly sliced pork or beef, shellfish or both and served with a somewhat sweet sauce. Various Japanese cities – Tokyo, Osaka and especially Hiroshima – are proud of their versions of this popular fast food that is often sold at food stands on the streets and at festival grounds. When you go to the okonomi-yaki specialty restaurant in Japan, you sit in front of the heated large griddle, and watch the chef to cook the paqncake for you or you cook your own while sipping a glass of beer, sake or soft drink. The experience is great fun and the result is delicious as well.
One indispensable ingredient in Japan for this pancake is a mountain yam called yamaimo. It is a thin, long tuber and the inside flesh has crisp but with a rather slimy texture. We eat it raw, or grate and add to other ingredients. When it is grated It results in white pulp with a loose and slimy texture. Buzz called it “nose water” – not so nice. Well, I think it is not such horrible stuff, though. Because of this appearance and texture, there is not yet much demand for this yam in America, so availability is limited to Japanese food stores. This limited availability have inspired me and I have created an excellent okonomi-yaki recipe that does not require the slimy yam. Please replace the yam with grated apple and add some baking powder in my recipe in The Japanese Kitchen. You can also enjoy this pancake with ponzu or even a sprinkle of tomato ketchup or barbecue sauce.