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Recipe of the week: Okonomiyaki Osaka-style (Japanese cabbage pancake with pork belly and squid)

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Recipe of the week: Okonomiyaki Osaka-style (Japanese cabbage pancake with pork belly and squid)

The quintessential Osaka street food, okonomiyaki toppings may vary, but squid and pork belly are popular choices. Using grated nagaimo (Japatnese yam) will make for a fluffy and light batter, or you can buy okonomiyaki flour which contains it in dry form. Okonomiyaki pancakes are easy to make and a delicious all-in-one meal.

Makes 8 large pancakes

For the batter
280g plain flour
225ml water
1tsp fine sea salt
1tsp baking powder
2tsp caster (superfine) sugar
2tsp instant dashi powder
100g nagaimo (Japanese yam), peeled and finely grated
4 eggs, lightly beaten
350g cabbage, chopped
100g kimchi, chopped
100g carrots, shredded
50g spring onions, finely sliced
25g red pickled ginger (Japanese beni shoga), finely chopped
4tbs toasted sesame oil

For the toppings
100g pork belly, thinly sliced
100g baby squid, cut into small slices
Japanese mayonnaise
Okonomiyaki sauce
Red pickled ginger (Japanese beni shoga)
Aonori (green powdered nori seaweed)
Katsuobushi flakes

Start by making the batter. In a bowl large enough to accommodate all the batter ingredients, mix the flour, water, salt, baking powder, sugar, dashi powder and nagaimo yam. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Just before frying, add the eggs, cabbage, kimchi, carrots, spring onions and the red pickled ginger to the batter. Mix well until all the vegetables are coated.

Heat a non-stick frying pan with a lid for a few minutes on a medium-low heat. Add one tablespoon of sesame oil, making sure to coat the pan thoroughly. Spoon the batter mixture into the pan to form a pancake about 15cm in diameter and about 2.5cm thick. Do not push down on it as you want a fluffy pancake.

Lay a few pork belly and squid slices on top of the pancake, trying not to overlap them. Cover with the lid and cook the pancake on a medium-low heat for about three minutes, checking after a minute or so to ensure the heat is not too high and the bottom of the pancake is not browning too fast.

Turn the heat down to low. Using a spatula, carefully flip the pancake, so the side with the pork and squid slices is now facing down. Gently press the pancake down with the spatula, cover with the lid and cook for about five more minutes.

Flip the pancake again so that the side with the pork and squid slices is now facing up, and cook for two more minutes. The pancake should be lightly browned when ready, the pork and squid cooked and the cabbage tender inside. Repeat until all the pancake batter and other ingredients are used up.

Transfer the pancake to a plate, cut it into four slices, press these back together, and add the toppings in the following order – a generous drizzle of Japanese mayonnaise and okonomiyaki sauce, followed by the red pickled ginger, a sprinkle of the aonori seaweed and a handful of katsuobushi flakes. Serve hot.

Book review: The Japanese Larder, by Luiz Hara >>



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