Japanese food is one of my favorite in the whole world. I don't know how to explain why. Perhaps it's because when you travel Japan you discover that there's a whole world beyond sushi food. The incredible variety, the respect for tradition and seasonal food, the constant persuit of the umami flavor (the fifth taste, for savory) makes it all a unique experience.
After my trip I started experimenting different traditional Japanese dishes, to make it fully gluten-free, so I will be sharing the recipes little by little.
I'm starting with Okonomiyaki because it's quite easy and fast to cook, and the result is so satisfying! Okonomiyaki is a filling pancake that you can bake with different ingredients. The base is always shredded cabbage with a light batter, traditionally topped with pork stripes, sauce, mayo, ground seaweed and japanese dried fish flakes. The fun part is that if you go to a Japanese Okonomiyaki restaurant, most of the time the pancake is cooked in front of your eyes in a hot-plate in the middle of the dining table. And you can choose different ingredients in the mix: shrimps, squid, cheese, shiitake mushrooms and so on.
This is the typical Osaka version, but there are many other versions in Japan, including some with grilled noodles. All of them are absolutely delicious, or as the Japanese would say: "Oishii"!
Ingredients (makes 2)
350 gr shredded cabbage
2 spring onions
170 gr gluten-free flour
1-1/2 cup water
2 tsp baking soda (or baking powder as you prefer)
2 tbsp pickled ginger (optional)
For the sauce:
5 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
Japanese Mayonnaise (Kewpie is the most popular brand)
Shaved dried bonito (katsuboshi)
Ground green nori seaweed
Wash the cabbage in cold water and shred it in very thin stripes. Chop the spring onions and set aside.
Prepare the batter beat the eggs with the water in a bowl, then add the gluten-free flour and baking soda mix little by little. Whisk well until all the lumps are dissolved. Combine the shredded cabbage and onion to the batter (and pickled ginger if you have).
Put a non-stick pan over medium-heat. Warm it up for 5 minutes, then brush the top with a little oil (sesame or seeds). Pour 1/2 the mix into the hot pan and spread evenly, cover with the lid and cook for 5 minutes. In you would like to add the pork slices or shrimps, this is the time: add them on top of the batter.
Flip the Okonomiyaki on the other side, you can use a spatula or the lid, as you prefer. Cook for 4 more minutes. In the meantime prepare the Okonomiyaki sauce in a little bowl by mixing the 3 ingredients with a spoon.
When the pancake is cooked place it in a big plate (with the pork or shrimps on top) and follow the order to garnish it: First brush the top with half the sauce, then add Japanese mayonnaise in zigzagging lines. Finally sprinkle with the ground seaweed and dried bonito flakes.
Repeat the cooking and garnishing for the 2nd pancake. Enjoy this amazing dish, with chopsticks if you can!
TIPS: Eat the Okonomiyaki while hot, it's not generally preserved after the meal. If you would like to customize it with other ingredients, just add them to the batter together with the cabbage.