We’ve been on holiday in New Zealand!  The nice thing about going on holiday to New Zealand – other than it being staggeringly beautiful all over the shop, obviously – is that you don’t spend the whole time you’re away searching for a decent cup of coffee and weeping into the doom-filled, oversized cup of weak bitterness that you are inevitably presented with in the rest of the world.  Sorry the rest of the world, you know it’s true (I’m looking at you England).  They even have great coffee in country towns!  They’re not so hot on the how-bout-a-meat-free-option thing, but they’ve got fucking great coffee.

This isn’t a lead in to anything, I just really like coffee.

Anyway, just before I left I finished up my job and now that I’m back I’m a lady of leisure until the baby arrives so you can expect more updates more regularly until late July/early Aug.  After that we’re flying by the seat of our pants.

Ahem.  So, okonomiyaki – fried vegetables in pancake form!  What’s not to like?  These are lovely and savoury and makable in about 20 minutes from go to whoa.  They’re less batter-y that what you get at your bog standard quick sushi takeaway place, and these ones give a nod towards the great Korean kimchi pancake (because I put kimchi in them…), so it’s all a bit fusion over here.
Pretty much anything can go in okonomiyaki, it’s basically just stuff loosely held together with a bit of batter.  I’ve nicked and tweaked this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, adding a couple of things in and leaving a couple out.  I’ve also reduced the overall amount because I was just cooking for Andy and me.  Feel free to amp it up and add and subtract ingredients as you like – the only real constants are cabbage and spring onion, everything else is negotiable.  This is a vegetarian version but go ahead and whack in some squid or some kind of pork product if that’s your bag.

Okonomiyaki (serves 2)

1 ½ cups cabbage, finely shredded
1 carrot, shaved into strips with a vegetable peeler
2 spring onions, sliced finely on the diagonal
¼-½ cup kimchi (this is definitely optional, I just had some so I chucked it in)[*]
Coriander (ditto)
½-1 tsp salt
¼ cup of plain flour – maybe a smidge more depending on the size of your eggs
2 eggs
a drizzle of sesame oil

Throw all you veggies plus the salt into a large bowl and toss.  Sprinkle the flour over the veggies and mix until everything is lightly coated in flour – the flour will get pretty sticky.

In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs and incorporate the sesame oil into the eggs.  Don’t go overboard with the sesame oil, just a few drops will do you.  Pour the egg mixture onto the veggie mixture and stir (I used a little pair of tongs to do this) until everything is incorporated and the vegetables are just lightly covered in batter.  It should look a bit like a mayonnaise-y coleslaw with too much mayonnaise.

We all know that I think any mayonnaise on coleslaw is too much, but you can see what I mean

Heat a good slug of oil with a high smoking point in a frying pan (rice bran oil is what I use) – more than you would use to just fry, say, onions, but we’re not quite shallow frying either – 4ish TBS?  A non-stick pan would serve you well here.  Using you tongs or a big spoon scoop out an okonomiyaki sized bit of mixture and arrange it in the pan so that you can fit a couple more in as well.  I could fit three at a time in my pretty big pan and got six pancakes out of my mixture.

This was my first batch - for my second batch I added slightly more flour for a little more structural integrity

Let them fry on one side until brown and crispy, then flip carefully with a spatula and press down on the pancake with the spatula once it has been flipped so that the cake is a little more compacted together.

Brown and crispy

Cook until brown and crispy then transfer to a plate and put them in a warm oven until all the batches are done.  Alternatively you can do this all in one massive cake and everyone can have slices, but I find doing that a bit of a pain in the arse.

Usually okonomiyaki are served with a hearty cross-hatching of okonomiyaki sauce and Kewpie-style mayo, as well as bonito flakes but we just had ours with a bit of kecap manis because I couldn’t be arsed going to the shop to get things to make the sauce.

Scarf all of them, they won’t keep well.  We had steamed cauliflower with a sauce made of tamari, sake, rice wine vinegar, sugar, and water with black sesame seeds scattered over the top as well.

[*] Homemade too – I didn’t do a post about that but you guys should totally make all the kimchi because it’s that best and super easy.

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