What You Want

The literal translation of Okonomiyaki, a Japanese savory pancake is, “what you want” for Okono, and “grilled” or “cooked” for yaki. I wanted to title the post with a play on the Spice Girls song, but Mike’s not a fan. I don’t think I was ever a fan, but I have to admit I know all the words to that song – rightly or wrongly.

As we mentioned last week, the prize winner of Miss A’s giveaway was A_Boleyn with her selection of Japan.  Last week we made a variation of one of A_Boleyn’s recipes for a tonkatsu and donburi. This week, we’re taking a suggestion from Charles over at Five Euro Food. While he wasn’t the winner, he too suggested Japan and offered up his recipe forOkonomiyaki. Thank you Charles! I know many of you know Charles, but for those of you that don’t – make sure to check out his site. His humor, common sense/down-to-earthness (if that’s a word) and clever recipes make him one of my favorites.

We also mentioned last week that outside of sushi, we’d never eaten Japanese cuisine. So when we saw that the Okonomiyaki was a cabbage-based pancake, we weren’t sure what to expect. I have to admit, not being a fan of cabbage, I wasn’t hopeful. We started by slicing a quarter of a red cabbage and one whole onion horizontally and finely.

Next, Mr. N whipped up our batter, a mixture of flour, water and an egg.

We added the cabbage and onion to the batter and tossed it to coat. We then used about 3 or 4 tablespoons of Canola oil to coat the bottom of a large skillet. Once that was heated over medium-high heat, we poured in the cabbage batter and pressed it down to form a circle.

We let the cake cook for five minutes over medium-high heat. In the meantime we put about a half pound of shrimp into the food processor.

Miss A chopped it up for us. I think she might be getting a little too comfortable with this appliance.

Once chopped we mixed about 3 teaspoons of sambal in the shrimp, a chili paste would work well too.

We added the shrimp to the top of the cabbage cake just before flipping it.

To flip we used a large spatula and carefully got it under the center of the cabbage cake and quickly flipped it, so that the shrimp side was face down.

Once flipped we cooked it for another five minutes. In the meantime we prepared the Okonomiyaki sauce. They do sell Okonomiyaki sauce, but since we couldn’t find any, we opted to make our own. We followed a recipe from The Big Oven and combined ketchup, Worcestershire, Dijon mustard, sake, soy sauce, brown sugar, mirin, ginger powder and honey. We cooked the ingredients in a sauce pan over medium-low heat for about a minute and set aside to cool. We also made a spicy mayo using mayo and sriracha (or as Miss A likes to say Sri-Chacha!).

We then flipped the cabbage cake one more time and cooked for a final five minutes. Finally we slid the cabbage cake out of the skillet onto the plate and drizzled with Okonomiyaki sauce going one direction and and spicy mayo going another to produce our Okonomiyaki.

As for our reaction…I was totally shocked. I liked it. I liked it enough to go back for two extra slices. (We cut it like a pie.) Mike really enjoyed it too. We gave it a solid 3 spoons. It was much different than we expected. I didn’t taste the cabbage at all and the texture of the spicy shrimp was a nice complement to the cabbage cake. As for the kids, Mr. N didn’t say he loved it, but he didn’t hate it. He ate his slice and said it wasn’t bad. So 2 spoons for him. Miss A, well, she never got to her slice. She spent all of her time eating her miso soup.

For our miso soup we used a ready-made miso paste and added it to hot water. For our sinkers we added udon noodles and tofu, and for our things that float we used slices of green onion. Miss A loved it. She ate every last bite from her bowl and even went back for more noodles and tofu.

The rest of us thought the miso soup was just fine. It would have been better with seaweed, but we couldn’t find any. We didn’t mind though as we were too busy devouring the Okonomiyaki. Despite not being a fan of cabbage, I enjoyed this a lot and was very surprised by the results. And I’ll definitely take this over a blini any day, even if the kids wouldn’t! And for another variation of Okonomiyaki, check out Charles’ version with a spicy ground beef.

So tell me what you want, what you really, really want…Sorry, now it’s stuck in my head. But if you want to print the recipe, here you go: Okonmiyaki

45 comments on “What You Want

  1. i absolutely love okonomiyaki (k never seem to spell it right though)

    • Kristy says:

      LOL! It’s definitely easy to mistype. :) (and misspell) I can’t believe I had never heard of this before. It’s so wonderful! I’m looking forward to trying it with some of the flakes that everyone talks about too.

  2. this dish sounds really yummy! thank you for sharing this and have a great day!

  3. A_Boleyn says:

    I’m not a fan/knowledgeable about red cabbage so when I made the mistake of thinking radicchio was red cabbage and shredded some raw to add to some bland pre-bagged coleslaw, I got quite the surprise. Made me not want to buy any red cabbage … but now I have to in order to make this cause I don’t think white cabbage would do the job. :)

    • Kristy says:

      LOL! I think it’s a good way to ease back into cabbage. Really, I’m not a cabbage eater. Can’t stand it normally, but this was delicious. Especially with all of the kick! :)

  4. red cabbage is delicious!

  5. So tell me what you want what you really really want. Sorry, just had to go there! This looks like a really interesting meal. I am not very familiar with Japanese cuisine. My husband is super adventurous with food, and would love for me to try something like this!

    • Kristy says:

      LOL! I couldn’t resist either. ;) I wouldn’t say that I’m adventurous by many standards, but this cooking around the world thing has opened me up to so many new flavors. And so far Japan has been a big hit. There are also a lot of variations of Okonomiyaki, so you can really design it to your own likes and dislikes. :)

  6. Oh I just LOVE miso soup.. its the best.. especially on a cold day. And I LOVE the addition of cabbage and shrimp together. This looks absolutely amazing. And I’m not even going to get into the Spice Girls with you LOL.

    • Kristy says:

      Miso is delish. I remember the first time I was served a bowl and I was thinking…what is this stuff? Do I have to eat it? Then I gave in…now I look forward to it every time we go out for sushi. :)

  7. How truly different (to me) and very intriguing. I would love to give it a go. Thanks for your input on the recipe and evaluation…that’s always helpful!

    • Kristy says:

      This was totally different to me too. I had never even heard of Okonomiyaki before and like I said, I was really nervous about this one. I didn’t have high hopes. It’s always fun when my expectations are surpassed. :)

  8. I totally had the platform shoes showing my love for the spice girls; I was 13 and addicted! Your pictures are making me even hungrier than I already am – I love japanese food, and those pancakes look so good!

    • Kristy says:

      I’ve got ya by about five years…I’m fairly certain the girls and I were dancing to this in college though. ;) (Minus the platform shoes…) Thanks for visiting! :) Have a good one.

  9. Caroline says:

    Guilty. I loved the Spice Girls. I’ll even admit that I went to their reunion tour in LA a few years ago, ha! Anyways, I’m loving this Japanese cuisine theme. The meal looks delicious! Sriracha always adds such a great flavor.

    • Kristy says:

      Now that had to be fun! Even if I wasn’t a “fan”…they’d be fun to see. Glad you’re likin’ Japan – we are too. :) And wait till you see where Miss A is taking us in September. ;)

  10. Ha, I wasn’t expecting to see the Spice Girls. Thanks for the laugh and the great recipe.

  11. that is so totally cool! I have never seen that before but I am now in love with it. all the flavors I love in the perfect little crispy cake like dish! Awesome

  12. Kelly says:

    Wow, what an exquisite looking pancake – and the sauces are wonderful too. I love cabbage (beautiful photo by the way) and spicy shrimp too so this is right up my alley. I’m with Miss A – miso soup is fantastic. Mild yet flavourful and so satisfying. I could eat it anytime of day. Loving this Japanese series. Thanks Charles and A_Boleyn!

    • Kristy says:

      Thanks Kelly! We’re having fun with this one too. And the spicy shrimp was definitely up my alley. I’ve only discovered sambal and sriracha recently and we’re rolling through the stuff now. ;)

  13. Eva Taylor says:

    This dish looks intriguing. We’re heading into autumn in Ontario, so the weather will be perfect for comfort food like this pancake.

    • Kristy says:

      We’re heading into autumn soon too – sooner than I’d like. Then again I got a taste of a cool breeze today and it felt so cozy and happy. I just wish both summer and fall could last a bit longer than they do. :)

  14. Yvette says:

    Wow, it looks great…my cousin loved The Spice girls…and even had the karoke version…ok so yes, I sang along! This savory pancake looks delicious, I love trying new cuisine cooking!

    • Kristy says:

      Definitely delicious. And I liked it much better than the Russian savory pancakes we tried. Although the kids were the opposite. They preferred the Russian ones. I had no idea there were so many forms of pancakes. And this had to be a blast on karaoke!

      • A_Boleyn says:

        Have you tried any of the Chinese pancakes yet? :) Green onion pancakes come to mind. Or the Indian ones like parathas, stuffed or unstuffed?

        • Kristy says:

          We haven’t tried any of those yet. There are just so many kinds of pancakes it’s amazing! Until this whole experience I had never tried anything other than a buttermilk pancake!

  15. I wanna I wanna I wanna
    I really really really wanna give Japanese cuisine a go lol
    sorry couldn’t help it
    I too have very little contact with Japanese cuisine
    and I think I really should explore more

    • Kristy says:

      No apologies – I was singing this all night. LOL! Japanese cuisine is by far surprising me as much as any of the regions we’ve sampled. We’re already three for three (one more to come!). :)

  16. What fun you all had and so nice that it turned out better than what you were expecting so a double win.
    Have a happy week. :-) Mandy

  17. Charles says:

    Thanks for the shout-out Kristy :) I’m glad you enjoyed it, although now I have that ridiculously annoying song stuck in *my* head too :D I never saw a version with ground shrimp before – the restaurant in Paris I frequent for my Okonomiyaki fix often presses whole shrimps into the cabbage mix before flipping it over, which is also good, but the ground shrimp layer looks delicious. If you ever make it again you should definitely try to get some Katsuobushi shavings to sprinkle on top… like delicious, fishy potato chips :D The sauce you made looks great too. It is effectively like a sweeter brown sauce, so I think the recipe you followed seems to have nailed it :)

    • A_Boleyn says:

      I feel so lucky in that I’ve got 2 great ‘international’ grocery stores nearby that have all the ingredients for great Japanese dishes including so many sauces: okonomiyaki, ponzu, tonkatsu. :)

      • Charles says:

        Reminds me that I need to head into Paris soon to visit the Japanese store there. I’m eager to try my hand at some tempura udon and need some dashi!

        • A_Boleyn says:

          “I need to head into Paris soon”

          You say that so casually and I’m green with envy cause I want to see Paris (and London and Rome and Madrid and Athens etc) one day before I get too crippled up to walk. :(

        • Kristy says:

          I had the same thought as A_Boleyn. I would love to say…”I need to head into Paris soon.” LOL! :)

    • Kristy says:

      LOL! Sorry Charles. I actually woke up in the middle of the night after writing this post and it was still rolling through my head. Got what I deserved. Ha! I’m so glad you liked it Charles. You were a great inspiration! I’m not sure why I thought to ground up the shrimp – just seemed natural. And it definitely worked. The whole pressed shrimp are probably prettier though. ;) And I did actually look for the Katsuobushi shavings. Couldn’t find them. I need to get in and really explore our Asian markets some more, but after three stores…I was done. (So were the kids!)

  18. A_Boleyn says:

    I’m not a big fan of cabbage either though I do like the potstickers on the dim sum menu which have cabbage inside. And bok choy is great so I’m more and more intrigued with the idea of making one. The ground cooked shrimp layer makes it very tempting as well.

    Did you mean you didn’t have any of the wakame seaweed to add to the bonito flakes in order to make dashi stock for the miso? Or were you going to use a different type of seaweed for garnish?

    • A_Boleyn says:

      “any of the wakame seaweed ”

      Sorry, I should have written that you use konbu seaweed to make the dashi broth for the miso soup along with the bonito flakes and the wakame as a garnish. Or you can be lazy like me and buy the commercial dashi granules so you only have to make as much broth as you need. :)

      • Kristy says:

        Gotch-ya…the wakame is what I was looking for and couldn’t find. We never found any dashi stock either. I did find some Miso paste. Basically we added it to hot water and then put ingredients of our choice in. Miss A has been loving it. :)

        • A_Boleyn says:

          I just want to drive over to my international grocery store and make up a care package for you. I thought I was deprived when I couldn’t find any canned inari-zushi (aka brown bag sushi for the fried marinated tofu pouch it’s in) but no wakame or hon-dashi. It’s heresy!

          There are just so many different kinds of sushi and I’m really looking forward to that post. :)


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