When summer comes Okonomiyaki, Japanese thick pancake, comes into my mind. In Japan Okonomiyaki vendors appear on the street during summer shrine festivals and other festivals. Okonomiyaki is easy to prepare at home and is a wonderful excuse to invite friends and family and spend long summer day together, cooking, drinking, chatting and eating. Okonomiyaki street vendors use a large flat griddle to cook the pancake. At home we can use a skillet – larger the better so that you can make many pancakes at one time for hungry guests. The best beverage for Okonomiyaki is a chilled beer.
In Japan Okonomiyaki has regional varieties. The most popular ones come from Osaka and Hiroshima Prefecture. Each Okonomiyaki has distinctive preparation method, producing very different mouth feel when we eat it. Osaka style Okonomiyaki is mushy and doughy (the recipe is in my The Japanese Kitchen), so I prefer Hiroshima style. Here is how to make Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki. It requires some practice but once you master it, making it is a great fun. Furthermore, you will be a start at the Okonomiyaki gathering. Follow the photos.
You need; 100g pastry flour, 200g water, fish flakes or dried shrimp flakes (I buy dried shrimp at nearby Korean food store and pulverize it in the food processor), 6 to 7 ounces finely shredded cabbage (LOTS of it), 2 ounces paper thin sliced pork belly, 1 ounce squid, 1 jumbo egg, 1 package ramen noodles (this is optional – I add this to special occasions, but usually omit it), 1 to 2 tablespoons tenkasu (bits of fried tempura batter), 1/4 cup thinly sliced green part of scallion, Okonomiyaki sauce (I create my own by mixing Okonomiyaki sauce and my miso sauce), mayonnaise (I create my own) and aonori (fresh water seaweed) flakes.
Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki is built in layers. Mix the flour and water and leave it in the refrigerator for several hours. When the batter is ready, first step is to heat a large skillet and oil it. When the oil is heated pour in the batter and make a very thin crepe. Sprinkle the surface of the crepe with ground fish flakes and dried shrimp flakes. Second, place the shredded cabbage (pile up high) on top of the crepe. Third, top the cabbage with tenkasu and squid. Fourth, cover the top of the cabbage, squid and tenkasu with the pork belly slices, and lightly salt and pepper the pork. Fifth, sprinkle a little batter over the pork belly. Sixth, using Okonomiyaki spatulas turn the Okonomiyaki pancake up-side down without destroying the very fragile structure. It requires a quite practice to conduct this process without making a huge mess. Shredded cabbage, tenkasu, squid, sliced pork and the bottom crepe are not bound by the batter. They all stay loose during the cooking. To move to Seventh step push the cooking Okonomiyaki to one side of the skillet and make a room. Lightly oil the surface of the emptied skillet and break one egg. With the edge of the spatula break the egg yolk and flatten it in a round disk shape. Eighth, using the Okonomiyaki spatulas pick up the Okonomiyaki pancake without breaking its round disk and swiftly transfer it on top of the egg. Nineth, After the egg is briefly done, turn over the pancake – cooked egg side is on top. All requires some practice. Smear the top of the Okonomiyaki pancake with thick layer of the Okonomiyaki sauce and garnish it with the mayo, scallions and aonori flakes. You can find some amuzing & amazing how to make Hiroshima style Okonomiyaki on YouTube. In my recipe noodles are omitted.
Very tasty lamb chops
Summer is a time of barbecue. Set up the grill on the back garden, invite friends and family, and spend fun time through cooking, drinking, chatting and eating. This weekend at one of the July the 4th celebration parties (which was held June 30) to which we attended I had the best barbecued lamb in my life. The cooking was perfect. But the true reason was the sheep which was raised with care was slaughtered and cooked for the occasion. We were fortunate to be there.