Okonomiyaki, that eclectic crossbreed between pizza and pancake, may not be the most well-known or highly-regarded of Japanese dishes overseas, but it can go down well on a cold winter's night like yesterday.
The name roughly translates as "as you like it..fried (or griddled)". The pancake-like base is made of a mix of shredded cabbage, flour, water and eggs. Depending on "as you like it", seafood (usually cuttle fish and prawns), meat, mushrooms and other ingredients can be added to the mix, which is then fried like a pancake on a hot-plate (鉄板 tenpan) - usually at your table.
After turning it with some wallpaper scraper-like implements, the finished article is somewhat reminiscent of a pizza with its different "toppings". Usually shaved tuna (鰹節 katsuobushi), green laver (青海苔 aonori), mayonnaise and a sweetish brown okonomiyaki sauce are then added on top for flavor.
The wallpaper scrapers are then used to divide the dish between the diners. Okonomiyaki is filling and certainly warming with the heat of the hot plate adding to the winter feel - though okonomiyaki is popular year-round.
Hiroshima is famed for its version of okonomiyaki which is eaten on top of a bed of yakisoba.
Though making no pretence to haute-cuisine, okonomiyaki restaurants tend to be lively, friendly places, good for a few beers, where the "Do It Yourself" nature of the food adds to the fun.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006