My Lunch Can Beat Up Your Lunch!

Bento Recipes: Okonomiyaki - it's tastier than it looks.


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I don't want to say what this looks like a plate of.Ranma 1/2 fans will recognize this one. Want to cook just like Ukyou? Want to make something that's ugly as sin but tasty and filling? Here you go! This recipe is the result of averaging a lot of recipes I found on the web, then throwing in my own ideas.

What you'll need:

    1 cup of all-purpose flour (Not bread flour! The okonomiyaki won't cook right.)
    3/4 cup of dashi soup stock if you have it or water if you don't
    1 egg (or more - use 2 tbsp less water/dashi stock for each egg you add)
    about 4 cabbage leaves
    1 tsp baking powder

    Small/thinly sliced beef, pork, fish, chicken, crab, or any other kind of meat; browned ground beef; cocktail shrimp; salad mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, minced pickled ginger, nori, sakura-ebi (dried shrimp), cooked bacon, bonito flakes, nori, tenkasu, furikake, konbu, daikon, chopped-up cashews, and whatever else you want to put in there.

First up, the batter. Cut the cabbage leaves into coleslaw-like strips. (If you use the white "ribs" - and I do - cut them very thin so they'll soften when cooked.) Beat the egg in a bowl, then add the dashi or water. Mix. Add the flour. Mix well. Add in the baking powder. Then mix in the cabbage, a bit at a time until all of it is in there and covered with batter. By this time the batter will be like glue to hold the cabbage together.

At this point you can add in some toppings. I put in the larger stuff like shrimp, sliced shiitake or regular mushrooms, chunks of cooked bacon, and ground beef. Mix some more. Then dump some of the mess into a frying pan at medium high heat, about the same heat you'd use for pancakes. (This recipe makes 2 or 3 individual-sized "cakes." I'm a small person, so 1/3 makes a nice meal for me.) Before the batter starts to set you can drizzle more toppings, like torn-up nori, bonito flakes, dried shrimp, and shredded ginger, onto the top. Let the thing fry covered for 5 minutes, then turn it over (the bottom should be brown in the darkest spots) and cook it for 5 minutes on the other side. Voila, it's done. Serve with mayonnaise and/or okonomiyaki sauce.

A few of my favorite topping combinations:

  • Browned ground beef with sauteed mushrooms. Cook both together, drain well, then mix the stuff in with the batter.
  • Cocktail shrimp and well-sliced-up shiitake mushrooms dumped into the batter before cooking, then nori and bonito flakes sprinkled onto the top.
  • Bacon with mushrooms. Cook a pair of strips of bacon per cake, cut them into small chips, then mix those and thinly sliced mushrooms into the batter.

A tasty variation is shiitake-flavored okonomiyaki. When you soak shiitake mushrooms, reserve the liquid, and use that in place of the dashi soup stock.