I love Japanese food and more specifically home style Japanese food, I would choose this cuisine most often on the rare occasions that Mr Good and I eat out together. This love stems from growing up in a household where we hosted Japanese teachers (and students sometimes) who would cook us one of their favourite recipes. I remember watching one of these teachers barbecuing perfectly formed rice triangles, turning them deftly using chop sticks, I was amazed. Country schools have always struggled to find and retain language teachers and to combat this problem it was common to bring over a native speaker, in this case from Japan, to teach in the primary and secondary schools. Usually they would only last a year, being hosted by a number of local families in that time, and I don’t think any of them had teacher qualifications. This made for a very disjointed introduction to the Japanese language and after studying it from primary school through to year 10 I was still unable to speak more than a basic phrase or two, as well as knowing the words for every type of farm animal you can think of, not really very useful! But I did come out the other side with a love of simple Japanese food.
This week’s Tuesday Night Vego was Okonomiyaki, or Japanese pancakes (these can also be made with shredded chicken or pork mince if you want a non-vego version). If you look them up on Taste or other recipe sites I’m sure you will find a load of slightly different recipes. I don’t know which recipe is technically authentic and I use a combination of a few different ones – making it my own recipe I guess – but they are extremely versatile, so feel free to adjust to your hearts desire. You must however serve them with BBQ sauce and mayonnaise (Japanese style mayo if you have it). I have stuck more closely to the rules of Tuesday night vego, these are super quick to make even with two grumpy kids hanging onto your legs.
1 1/2 cups of cold water
2 cups of plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 spring onions, thinly sliced
250g shredded cabbage
50g button mushrooms, sliced
100g bean shoots
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Preheat the oven to 150 degrees. Whisk together the eggs and water. In a separate bowl add the flour, baking powder, spring onions, cabbage, mushrooms, bean shoots and salt and pepper. Mix it together well, ensuring the flour is coating the other ingredients. Add the egg mixture and combine well.
Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium to high heat. Add two tablespoons of the pancake mixture (this makes a small kids sized pancake, add more to make a man-sized one) and spread it out evenly until it’s about 1-2cm thick. Cook for about 3 mins on one side, flip and cook for a further 3 mins on the other side. While it’s cooking brush lightly with Worcestershire sauce. Place the pancake on a tray and put in the pre-heated oven for 5 minutes (or until you have finished cooking the rest of the pancakes).
To server add a generous dollop of mayonnaise (either whole-egg of Japanese style) and drizzle with BBQ sauce (traditionally it is actually Japanese Worcestershire sauce, but BBQ works really well).
This made just enough for Mr Good and I plus two smaller ones for the girls. Miss One loved them, but then again she loves all food, Miss Three wasn’t so keen, but then she doesn’t eat anything except fairy bread at the moment (too many birthday parties lately). You might need to adjust the quantities if you need to feed bigger eaters or more people. Alternatively, serve with a side salad.