A few years ago I got a cookbook called Japanese Soul Cooking by chef Tadashi Ono and food writer Harris Salat. It’s got simple, approachable recipes for ramen, gyoza, tonkatsu, curry, and other staples of Japanese home cooking. But the dish that I make the most from the book is okonomiyaki.
Roughly translated as “what you like, fried,” okonomiyaki typically combine shredded cabbage with a wheat flour batter to make a savory fritter that’s topped with several sauces and condiments. They’re basically Japanese fritters.
The book describes a couple of styles, with the Osaka version that adds thinly sliced pork belly the most common. But I also like the Hiroshima version with ground pork mixed into the batter. So I make a mashup of the two, but the pork belly step can be skipped, and you can leave the ground pork out, too. I also add a little mochiko rice flour, which gives the fritters a fluffy texture, and use Ayers Creek semolina instead of all AP white flour. It is, after all, what you like.
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From the kitchen
Mix 1/4 cup Koda Farms Mochiko with 1 1/2 cups semolina flour with 1 teaspoon each sea salt and baking powder.
Add the dashi into a cup and a half of water and blend it into the flour, then stir in a couple of eggs.
Slice four or five green onions and a quarter head of green cabbage very thinly, then add them to the batter. Mix in a half pound of ground pork.
Cut thinly sliced pork belly into pieces about 3 inches long. This recipe makes about 12 fritters, and you can put one or two pieces of belly on each one.
Heat a skillet over medium and add enough olive oil to cover the bottom. Spoon in the batter to form fritters about 3 inches across. Lay a piece (or two) of belly on each fritter and gently press it into the batter. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, then gently flip.
Cook the other side with pork belly for another 5 minutes or so, them flip again. Continue cooking, flipping again if desired, until the Okonomiyaki are nicely browned on both sides. Keep the fritters warm on a plate in a low oven while you cook the rest of the batter. You’ll probably need to add oil occasionally.
Mix a couple of tablespoons of Bobbie’s Boat Sauce with a teaspoon each of soy sauce, rice vinegar, and Okinowan brown sugar.
Sprinkle the Okonomiyaki with Burlap & Barrel Icelandic kelp, spoon a little of the Bulldog sauce, a few squiggles of Kewpie mayo, and a pinch of bonito flakes.