Assemble your ingredients!
Note: I’m making a huge batch for a big gathering, but I’ve scaled down the ingredients list to make about 5 pancakes.
Coarsely chop about one cup of cabbage, packed. Most of the vegetables in this recipe can be switched out, but the cabbage and the green onions are a must.
Chop one cup of green onions and set them aside.
The first vegetable I’m preparing to spiralize is taro root, a popular vegetable in Japanese cuisine.
IMPORTANT: Taro is toxic when uncooked.
Begin by thoroughly washing and peeling it.
Once peeled, the taro root is quite slimy! A good spiralizer will have a spike to impale your vegetables on, so you won’t lose your grip. Insert the tuber into the spiralizer and twist to make long, flexible noodles.
Even if these noodles look tempting, don’t eat them! The taro root is still raw and therefore toxic.
Thoroughly wash the spiralizer before using it on your next vegetables.
Simmer the taro root noodles in water for at least five minutes. When pinched, a cooked taro noodle will have a similar consistency to cooked potato. They are now safe to eat.
Rinse the cooked taro noodles and set them aside.
Prepare the rest of your vegetables for spiraling. This is a yamaimo, another popular Japanese vegetable. It is often served raw and grated. Peel it and remove the ends before spiralizing.
Spiralize all the vegetables except cabbage. I’ve used the yamaimo, daikon, and zuchinni. Other popular choices are parsnip, carrot, or bell peppers.
Combine half the green onions all the raw vegetable noodles into one bowl (not the cooked taro) and cut them a few times. This will make it easier to quickly add them to the pan in a later step.
Add 1/4 pound of soft tofu to 1 3/4 cups of water and 1/4 cup of soy sauce in a food processor or blender.
Puree the tofu and liquid until it is as thin as jam.
Mix 2 1/2 cups of white flour with 2 teaspoons of baking soda in a large mixing bowl.
Stir the tofu puree into the flour and baking soda. Stir the minimum amount to dissolve all the flour. Over-mixing can make the pancakes less fluffy.
Clean the pot of taro residue and boil the ramen until soft. This will take about 5 minutes.
Strain the boiled ramen.
Mix the boiled taro noodles with the boiled ramen noodles. Toss in two tablespoons of sesame oil and two tablespoons of tamari.
Some recipes recommend frying the noodles at this stage. However, I find it adds excessive oil and calories for no boost in flavor.
Here’s where you’ll need your skills!
Assemble two spatulas and two pans. Get all your ingredients within arm’s reach.
Begin heating oil on both pans. You may be tempted to use the sesame oil, but its smoke point is law compared to canola oil. This means that at the same temperature, sesame oil would start to burn, while canola could still be safely heated more.
Leave a fleck of vegetable in the oil on the pans. You’ll know the oil is ready to use when bubbles appear around the vegetable.
On medium heat, pour about half a ladle’s worth of batter onto the oil. Place the ladle round-side down and swirl into the pancake to make it round and slightly indented in the middle. This will help it encompass the vegetables.
You’ll want to make a pancake of a small enough size that you can easily flip it. A Hiroshima style okonomiyaki has many layers and becomes rather tall and unwieldy.
Quickly sprinkle some furikake onto the pancake.
Quickly add a layer of the vegetable mix onto the pancake. Give it a little pat with the spatula to help it sink into the batter.
Quickly ladle about two tablespoons of the batter on top of the vegetable layer.
Sprinkle cabbage on top of the raw batter and pat with a spatula to help it sink in.
You’ll want to cook this side of the pancake for at least three minutes on medium heat. Because this pancake is so thick, it’s easy to undercook the middle while burning the outside. If this becomes a problem, lower the heat on your stove and cook each side for longer.
On the second pan, while the pancake is heating on the first pan, make a small pile of the ramen and taro noodles. Try to make a thin circle about the size of your pancake.
Here’s the tricky part!
Carefully pry the pancake on every side to loosen it from the pan. slip one of your spatulas underneath. Place your other spatula firmly on top.
Flip the okonomiyaki from the first pan onto the hot noodles on the second pan. Press down firmly to help the batter sink into the noodles.
Note! If using a teflon pan, make sure you use a silicon or wooden spatula as the bottom spatula to avoid scratching the coating.
Cook the okonomiyaki on medium heat for at least three minutes. Give it a poke to make sure the batter is cooked through before moving the pancake again.
While the okonomiyaki is heating on the second pan, heat a teaspoon of oil on the first pan. Pour a second pancake, equal in size to the first.
Once the okonomiyaki on the second pan is cooked through, gently slide the spatula under the noodle layer. Place the other spatula on top.
Do not flip the pancake at this point.
Move the stack, including the noodles on the bottom, onto the new pancake in the first pan. Plop the noodles directly onto the wet batter of the new pancake.
Cook for at least three minutes on this side until the batter is totally cooked through.
Once it is cooked through, flip the pancake to warm it from the other side.
So far, the ingredients of this recipe are fairly bland and gentle. The dazzling flavor will come from the tonkatsu sauce, so drizzle it on generously.
Tonkatsu (豚カツ) is Japanese for deep fried pork cutlet, a specialty in my old hometown, Nagoya. But don’t be fooled! Just as steak sauce has no steak in it, tonkatsu sauce is made of prunes, vegetables, and spices.
Garnish the okonomiyaki with fresh green onions, and enjoy!