I'm a Gleek. Yes, there I said it. If you're not sure what I mean, I'm addicted to the show Glee and the songs and one of the first meals when we moved into our new place was this Japanese Pizza pancake called Okonimyaki as it was an easy dinner that wcould be made on the stovetop as we're still waiting with bated breath for our new oven to arrive. And one of the first things I did once we had moved in was sing my little heart out to the theme song, something that I couldn't do while staying at my parent's place. I like to sing alone, yes I do. Whilst I appreciated my parents opening up their house to us, a girl has got to sing.
The renovations took about 2.5 months and we breathed a huge sigh of relief when it was finally finished. I had no idea how stressful renovating was until our bathroom guy showed up at 11:30pm and proceeded to hammer until 2am. We had no idea until one of our neighbours called me the next day saying apologising that she had to go down and tell him to stop hammering. Great" I said to my husband. "We are off to a great start with our neighbours" and I was sure that we were the least popular people in the building.
But now that it's all finished it seems a distant memory (apart from the dozen boxes that greet me every day waiting to be unpacked). When I served this up to my husband, with the intention of sharing it, he wanted to appropriate it all for himself which I suppose is the ultimte compliment. It's a ridiculously easy recipe and it is part of my new monthly column in Web Child (yes I'm a columnist! How Carrie Bradshaw ;) ). The editor SydneyGalwho is a long time reader of NQN wanted me to do a story on making cabbage edible for kids and Okonomiyaki was the first thing that sprang to mind whilst still making a dish palatable for adults. It's also very economical, versatile and relatively quick.
I went a bit artistic with the feathering details but a lattice pattern is more traditional and of course if you're doing it for a child, a smiley face is almost de rigeur. They will love the pancakey taste and the hidden cabbage provides a nice crunch but it's subtle enough so that they aren't scared away. Plus with Halloween coming up, add some fake spiders and you have a spider's web! The best thing about it is that the meat can be changed to whatever you have to hand or it can easily be done as vegetarian and it still tastes great.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you sing in front of people or only alone? Are you a karaoke star or strictly a shower singer?
Japanese Pizza Pancake Okonomiyaki
An Original Recipe by Not Quite Nigella
2 cups plain flour
4 eggs lightly beaten
300ml water or milk
1/2 cup green shallots, sliced
1 1/2 cups Cabbage, torn into smallish pieces
1/3 cup thin carrot batons
1/2 cup chicken sliced or prawns or bacon or whatever you have
Oil for frying
Mayonnaise (preferably Japanese Kewpie Mayo, Praise and Kraft are not suitable for this)
Okonomiyaki sauce (in a pinch mix some BBQ sauce with some Worcestershire sauce but I urge you to try and get the real thing)
Bonito fish flakes (optional)
Seasoned Seaweed sheet (optional)
Pickled ginger (optional)
Buyer's tip: All of these ingredients can be found at Japanese grocery stores and some Asian grocery stores. Some larger supermarkets will also have some of these items in their Japanese/Asian aisles (i.e. the mayonnaise, pickled ginger and seaweed sheets).
Step 1 - Heat frying pan on medium heat. Whilst it is heating, in a large bowl, empty flour, lightly beaten eggs and water to form a thick pancake type batter. Add the cabbage, carrot and green shallots to the batter and mix thoroughly.
Step 2 - Using 1 tablespoon of oil, fry the chicken, prawns or bacon until cooked through. Add this to the batter mix. Add more oil to the frying pan and then spoon one third or one quarter of the mixture into the centre of the pan in a circle that is about 1.5-2cms thick. Do not add too much mix or do not make it too thick or it will not cook properly inside (and will taste overly floury). Shape into a rough circle with the edges of a egg flip.
Step 3 - Place frying pan lid on top and cook for a few minutes until the bottom is cooked and then carefully turn over and cook again with the lid on until it is thoroughly cooked (you can insert a skewer into the centre and if it comes out clean, then it's cooked). The total cooking time per pancake is about 10 minutes.
Step 4 - Once fully cooked, transfer to a plate brush liberally with Okonomiyaki sauce and or squirt patterns of it along with the Mayonnaise in a lattice pattern or whatever pattern you like. Top with seaweed flakes and bonito flakes if desired (the bonito flakes sway in the breeze and children find them rather cool as they look alive).
To do a feathered effect with the mayonnaise: spread with brown okonomiyaki sauce. Take your tube of Kewpie mayonnaise. It will disperse the mayonnaise in a star shaped pattern but this is too thick to achieve the feathered "spider's web" look. Either use a small plain nozzle and attach it to the end or if you don't have one, get a zip lock bag and cut a small hole at the end of it. Place the tube of mayonnaise in it with the star tip aligned to the hole. Squeeze the mayonnaise in a circular pattern as shown using the hole to make it come out in the way way a plain nozzle would do. Using a skewer, drag the lines from the centre to the edge to create the feathered effect.
Feathered effect using mayonnaise
An adult's version might have some red pickled ginger on top as well or use seafood in the filling instead of chicken.