Okonomiyaki

I’m excited to post this Okonomiyaki recipe as I’ve basically been obsessed with okonomiyaki ever since I went to Japan three years ago. It’s a Japanese savoury pancake served with Japanese mayonnaise and Okonomiyaki sauce which is a bit like brown sauce and then some bonito flakes which are dried fish. There are 2 regional variations that are the most famous – the Osaka version and the Hiroshima version, the Hiroshima take adds noodles to the mix. I’ve had both and I have to say the Hiroshima version is the best so that’s what I’ve tried to replicate here with some success. In Japan they just have a large hot plate which they cook the okomiyakis all in a line. I’ve made this a couple of times before and this was the best it’s ever turned out. I think it’s to do with the ratio of ingredients to the pan. I was feeling a bit indulgent and it was the weekend so I had salmon, prawns and scallops but you can pretty much put whatever you want in an okonomiyaki. You can maybe get away with leaving out the bonito flakes and also even subbing the okonomiyaki sauce for HP sauce but I think the Kewpie mayonnaise is an absolute must.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 300g white cabbage (about half a cabbage)
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 spring onions
  • 2 fillets salmon
  • 6 small scallops
  • 100g raw prawns
  • 300g ready to wok noodles
  • bonito flakes
  • kewpie mayonnaise
  • okonomiyaki sauce

Method

1.) Cut the cabbage into shreds. Dice the spring onions. De-skin the salmon and chop into large chunks.

2.) Break the eggs in a measuring jug, add the flour and beat. Add the soy sauce and sesame oil.

3.) In a large oven proof frying pan, heat some oil and add the cabbage and fry for 3 minutes or so.

4.) Add the salmon and spring onion and fry for a couple more minutes. Turn on the grill to preheat.

5.) Add the prawns and scallops and cook for a few more minutes, flipping the prawns over so they start to become pink on both sides.

6.) Now add the noodles and break them up a bit with the spoon. Cook for a couple more minutes.

7.) Move the ingredients around the pan so that it’s all evenly distributed and then pour in the batter.

8.) Cook for about 4 minutes until the bottom is set.

9.) Put under the grill for 3 – 4 more minutes until the top is starting to brown.

10.) Sprinkle over the bonito flakes and then drizzle the mayo and the okonomiyaki sauce all over the pancake and serve.

Watermelon sushi

It seems very festive to be posting a sushi recipe on the closing day of the Tokyo Olympics. I did used to be a bit sceptical of vegetarian sushi until I had some watermelon sashimi at Vegan Restaurant ‘The Allotment’ in Manchester. I always used to have sushi for lunch when working in London with 2 Itsus and a Wasabi nearby so I have missed it a lot when working from home. Home-made sushi is infinitely better than the horrible pressed rice sushi you get at the supermarket and also infinitely more adaptable. I tend to stay away from raw fish sushi just because I’m a bit wary of using sashimi-grade fish. I have tended to opt for smoked salmon and avocado in the past but some of my favourites were tempura prawn and the tuna-mustard ongiri you get from Wasabi which also avoid using sashimi. But anyway, back to this recipe as for this I used watermelon sashimi, sriracha mayo and cucumber.

Makes about 24

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cup/400ml sushi rice
  • 7 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 sheets nori sheets
  • 250ml lukewarm water
  • 100g mayo
  • 1 1/2 tsp sriracha
  • 1/3 watermelon
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • soy sauce and pickled ginger to serve

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 90 degrees C

2.) Line a baking tray, chop off the watermelon peel and slice up the watermelon into 1 cm slices (thinner than mine below I think works better). Put the watermelon onto the baking tray, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt.

3.) Bake for 1 hr 15, flip the slices over, then bake for another 1hr 15. Leave to cool. You could do this the day before and put the watermelon in the fridge as I did.

4.) Cook the rice with about 460ml/2 cups of water. When ready, add the sugar, some salt and pepper and 3 tbsp of the vinegar and let cool to room temperature. I find that this is the most important step in making sushi, if your rice is too hot or you haven’t used sushi rice, it’s not going to work! Even though you can see below I haven’t really spread out the rice as well as I could, my sushi have still been reasonably successful.

5.) The watermelon should have shrunk down a bit in the oven but you may need to slice it more thinly.

6.) Chop up the cucumber into sticks

7.) Mix the sriracha with the mayo in a bowl

8.) Make a water bowl with the rest of the vinegar and the 250ml water. This is really helpful for working with the rice as it’s so sticky.

9.) Get a sushi rolling mat and line it with cling film. Place on a sheet of nori then add 1/4 of the rice to the middle of the sheet. Spread the rice out with your fingers leaving a 1cm margin on the far side. Clean your fingers after with the vinegar water bowl. You can see I left margins on both sides which is probably why I ended up with 6 rolls. Also go right to the edge width ways.

10.) Spoon on a tbsp of sriracha mayo down the middle of the roll. On top of this, add sticks of cucumber and watermelon.

11.) Pick up the mat from the slide closest to you, roll it over to the other side and pull out the mat slightly so that the edge of the nori folds under the other edge. The join should be at the bottom and the moisture from the rice should stick it together.

12.) Repeat with the remaining nori and rice.

13.) Use a sharp knife to slice each roll into 6 pieces, trimming off the ends if they’re a bit scrappy. Dip the knife in the water vingear bowl between slices to stop it sticking.

14.) Serve with soy sauce and pickled ginger/wasabi.

Katsu Curry

Technically I should call this recipe ‘karē raisu’ – curry over rice – katsu curry is a curry served with a fried, bread crumbed cutlet of chicken or pork and Katsu means victory in Japanese. Japanese curry is an Indian-Japanese fusion as a result of British colonialism – you’re welcome 😉

I travelled to Japan in March 2019 and though I sadly didn’t try Japanese curry whilst I was there, I have since visited the London branch of the chain Coco Ichibanya which holds some great photos of the food on the website if you like innuendos.

Japan is truly a beautiful country with so much to see. I spent two weeks there and visited Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Osaka, stopping off at Nara and Miyajima. Parks, shrines, (including a shrine to cats!), cat cafes, shopping districts and a monkey park were just some of the things I covered. It was very taxing on the calves and there was still so much more I could have seen (and plan to). The jarred sake they sell at the local convenience stores was very welcomed of an evening after days full of hours on my feet! Speaking of convenience stores, you can buy fantastic food in the small 7/11 supermarkets and they’ll even heat it up for you. In terms of food, the Kyoto food market is absolutely first-rate and the Takoyaki served there have yet to be beaten.

Back to the topic at hand, I served this curry with roasted cauliflower – I didn’t want the extra dishes and the inevitable leftover ingredients of bread crumbed cauliflower for a mid-week meal. I used a Japanese curry block ‘Golden curry’ which are easily found in oriental supermarkets or failing that – Amazon.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cauliflower
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 thumb-nail sized chunk of ginger
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 large potato
  • 15g coriander
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp golden curry
  • 300g rice
  • 1 litre water
  • 1 tbsp plain flour

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C, line a baking tray

2.) Chop up the cauliflower into florets and put into the tray, spray with oil and sprinkle over salt.

3.) Whilst the oven preheats, get the rice ready. Put into a pan and cover with water. Turn on the hob.

4.) Peel the potato, carrot and onion and chop them up into small cubes.

5.) Sauté them in oil in a large frying pan until soft.

6.) Put the cauliflower in the oven and roast for around 25 minutes.

7.) In the meantime, peel the garlic and ginger and finely chop.

8.) Add to the pan and fry for another couple of minutes.

8.) Boil a litre of water.

9.) Add the garam masala and the turmeric for a couple of minutes.

10.) Mix the water with the japanese curry block

11.) Sprinkle the flour in the pan and cook off for 1 more minute

12.) Add the water and curry powder mix and simmer until the curry has a nice thick consistency.

13.) Chop up the coriander

13.) Combine the cauliflower with the curry sauce and sprinkle on the coriander.

14.) Serve with rice.

おいしい