25 Aug 2009, 9:33pm

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Wiki describes “okonomiyaki” as Japanese style savory pancake, and that’s pretty much what it is. Literally meaning “fry it as you like it,” it’s one of the signature dishes from the city of Osaka, my honorary hometown. They have something similar in Hiroshima, but it’s piled high with noodles, which scared me a little.

The ‘pancake’ batter is pretty simple. A standard okonomiyaki has a base of cabbage (thinly shredded), flour, egg, water. Some people season the batter with salt and aji no moto (MSG, the source of all ‘umami’). Where you take it from there is “as you like it!”

This variant pictured above is made with squid, so it’s an ‘ikadama’ (ika=squid; tama=egg). Squid is the best kind, in my opinion, though pork works just as well! The key to making a good okonomiyaki is to be gentle with the batter. You don’t want to push it around too much. And once it’s on the grill, don’t press down on it, or you’ll flatten out all the texture.

There’s a special sauce that goes with it (called – surprise surprise, okonomiyaki sauce) that you can get at the Asian grocer, though you can mix up your own sauces if you like. Sprinkle on some ao-nori (dried seaweed seasoning) and katsuo (shaved bonito flakes) just before serving.

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