09 April 2010

okonomiyaki: dishing the chicken

sweet potato okonomiyaki with sesame peanut noodles

As a follow up to my last chicken post, I thought I'd share one of the photos of what became of our roasted bird. The top photo, of Sweet Potato Okonomiyaki with Sesame Peanut Noodles was part happy kitchen experiment, part tried and true recipe.

Okonomiyaki is described by some as a sort of Japanese Pizza, though it's closer to a pancake than a pizza in my opinion. I first had it when friends of mine came home from teaching English in Japan, and since then it's become one of my favorites, though making it at home requires some special ingredients that I don't often have on hand, so okonomiyaki only graces our dinner table maybe once a year. The beauty of okonomiyaki, though, is that once you have the batter (flour, potato, water, salt or dashi, shredded cabbage and egg), whatever else goes in/on it is up to you. Onion, ginger, shrimp, pork, chicken, kimchi, mochi, cheese, Sea Monkeys, stale marshmallow Peeps (OK, not really those last two), you name it. When Jo and I were in Hiroshima, we ate at a place that served theirs with soba noodles fried right in, a regional thing, apparently, called "Hiroshimayaki". So whatever you're hankering for, toss it on. Fry it up, squirt it all over with some thick, tangy okonomi sauce, some Kewpie mayo (or Kraft, if you, like I am, are always out), a few bonito flakes that will do a jiggly-wiggly-I-dare-you-to-eat-me dance for you and you're all set.

The 'official' version of okonomiyaki calls for grated "mountain potato" or yama-imo, which looks like mush, but provides a glutinous component to the batter that okonomiyaki purists (can they exist for a dish like this?) would argue is essential. I had none in my kitchen, but I did have a bunch of mashed up sweet potatoes that I'd used for another recipe, and the idea of sweet-potato-flavored okonomiyaki sounded plausible (and tasty, really) to me. I also had no okonomi sauce, and didn't feel like making a special trip to our Asian market, but I found this recipe for both the pancake and a homemade approximation of the sauce. Dinner was cooking.

While frying up our okonomiyaki, I tossed together a really simple "salad" of soba noodles, peanut sauce, some shredded chicken and veggies (cucumber, red pepper and green onion) (recipe, more or less, here). Jules picked and poked and prodded at it for the most part, asking for yoghurt about 20 minutes in, but Kasper, Kasper was amazing. He slurped and sucked up his noodles like the best of them, and even poked a finger in his pancake a few times before taking a few bites. I'd call dinner an overall success, especially because it's spurred me on to put (this, admittedly highly bastardized version of) okonomiyaki on my table more often.

I'm not going to share my own personal recipe with you for this, mostly because I wasn't paying attention myself when I tossed it together. But I do encourage you to try okonomiyaki for yourself. Let the improv begin!


  1. sounds interesting - that photo rocks

  2. Ohmygoodness. Your family is so lucky to have food like this on their menu!


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