Today is a good day. I’m rarely happier than when I’m off on a foodie expedition, ice-axe in hand. There’s things I’ve eaten, read about, seen on TV and the like, but the mountain is never really conquered until you’ve truly ‘been there’. Tick.
Okonomiyaki [o-konomi-yaki] is a Japanese savoury pancake. I’ve eaten plenty, but discovering how easy and satisfying it is to make them in your own kitchen is positively joyous.
Here’s the low-down:
Make a pancake batter, fill it with delicious savoury ingredients, cook it slowly and top it with equally delicious and visually attractive garnishes.
The name derives from ‘okonomi’ which means ‘whatever you like’ and ‘yaki’ meaning ‘grill’. As you may be aware, I’m a big fan of using up leftovers and reducing food waste so this is right up there in the list of go-to/back-pocket dishes.
Although it has regional variations across Japan, generally speaking it’s filled with shredded cabbage, but I’ve used gem lettuce in my version as it’s what I had to hand. It’s your dish – mix it up to your liking, but you’ll have to trust me with the mayonnaise zigzag.. I think it really is essential and brings an additional dimension.
Ingredients: (serves 1)
- 1 large egg
- 50ml stock, cooled
- 4 tbsp plain flour
- 1 handful lettuce (or cabbage), shredded
- 1 spring onion, finely sliced
- 2 tsp black sesame seeds or Furikake*
- 1 tsp rapeseed of vegetable oil
- mayonnaise (from a squeezy bottle)
- oyster sauce
- Sriracha chilli sauce
- Beat the egg, stock and flour together with a pinch of salt.
- Mix in the lettuce and some of the spring onion (or ‘whatever you like’).
- Fry in the oil over a low heat for about 5 minutes on each side until until golden and a little crispy.
- Top with the obligatory crisscross of sauces and top with the remaining spring onion and your choice of condiments.
*Furikake is a Japanese seasoning made from mixed sesame seeds, Shiso leaves and nori seaweed.
I’m hoping that I’m not the only person who struggles when deciding what to cook when friends come over to eat. I get a bit anxious when said friends have allergies or a particular intolerance. Thankfully there are thousands of recipes and ideas out there on the internet, but I still seem to have a bit of a mental block about it.
I thought I’d cracked it last time with ‘Char Sui Pork’ until I realised that Hoisin sauce (one of the key ingredients) isn’t gluten free..
Given that I aim to make everything from scratch, I thought I’d have a go at making the hoisin sauce as well – it turned out better than expected and made quite a nice little parting gift as well.
- 2 Garlic cloves
- 1tsp Five Spice powder
- 125ml Red Miso paste
- 125ml Honey
- 2tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
- Blend it all together.
- Marvel at how clever you are.
You can use your GF hoisin sauce straight away or pop it into sterilised jars, refrigerate and use within a month.
This blog post is part of December’s Food Revolution challenge to make your own condiment.
And for interest, here’s how the Char Sui Pork belly strips turned out:
This Tunisian chilli paste is incredibly delicious and satisfyingly versatile. Akin to Sambal Oelek (Malaysian), Gochujang (Korean) and Sriracha (Thai), it adds an incredible depth of flavour and moreish heat to dishes. Chillies, garlic, spices and olive oil – that’s it. Feel free to embellish as you see fit; lemon juice, rose water, bell pepper, tomato puree and additional spices are all fairly common.
- 100g dried chillies – whichever variety or mix you like
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp caraway seeds
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp salt
- 75ml olive oil
Carefully remove the stems and seeds* from your chillies and soak them in hot water until softened. Drain, reserving some of the liquid.
Toast the cumin, coriander and caraway seeds briefly in a dry pan (watching them like a hawk) to release their natural oils and fragrant aroma. Once cooled, grind the spices to a powder with the salt.
Place the chillies, garlic and a splash of the chilli water in a food processor and blend. Add the spices and blend further whilst drizzling in olive oil. Add more of the chilli water to loosen if required.
Try it as a condiment or in a plethora of other dishes; it works wonderfully with meat, fish, eggs, mayonnaise, all sorts.
You can store your harissa in the fridge for a few weeks under a layer of oil or preserve it by sterilising and canning.
*If you leave the seeds in (as I have done..) it will turn out orange instead of the luxurious deep red, and all be literally hotter than the sun.