Sake Gumi
Happy New Year! 2009 doesn't look different from 2008 at all. I thought about cutting back 1. smoking, 2. boozing, 3. eating, plus adding exercise into my daily routine, but already failed all of them, or wait, I didn't even try. It's still in my head, thinking I will be able to accomplish them some day, but not any time soon... Human beings are such lazy animals... I wonder how many people made New Year's resolution of "get fit" and already failed.

Anyways, back in December last year (sounds soo long ago), we had Okonomiyaki and Takoyaki party. As you saw from Kayoko's Japan trip report, okonomiyaki and takoyaki are such famous, great, and almost fast food, especially in the Osaka area. I am from Wakayama, which is south of Osaka, hence I grew up eating okonomiyaki with a side of rice (carb overdose), or takoyaki for snacks.

In my kitchen gadget purchasing crazy days, I bought a Panini machine that opens up to griddle, and thought it would be perfect to cook okonomiyaki in. After all okonomiyaki are many times translated as "Japanese style pancake". My friend Mari's parents are apparently hooked on making takoyaki, so when they visited her last time, they brought a takoyaki-machine with them.

Both okonomiyaki and takoyaki's concept are the same. Flour based batter topped with bunch of vegetables, then sauce. The very difference between them are:
1. Okonomiyaki batter is thick as pancake mixture
2. Takoyaki batter is as thin as half and half
3. Okonomiyaki is pancake shaped
4. Takoyaki is ball shaped.

Other ingredients are: a shit load of cabbage, tenkasu (tempura batter bits, which gives nice greasy flavor to the batter), pickled red ginger, scallions. For okonomiyaki, you can use anything from pork (standard), bacon, shrimp, scallops, to mochi (rice cake) and cheese.

There are a lot of recipes for making them. Making okonomiyaki batter, in order to make it fluffy, you need baking powder, plus graded mountain potato (yamaimo, which looks exactly like sick person's snot, sans yellow color, since it's pure white), dashi, eggs. For takoyaki, it's a lot more technical. Even professionals measure each ingredients in order to perfect the best crunchy outside, juicy and melty inside texture.

Basic method of making okonomiyaki is as follows.
1. Mix two handful of shredded cabbage, about two table spoons of pickled red ginger, about two table spoons of tenkasu and about two table spoons of scallion

2. Add just enough batter (about two table spoons)

3. Add 1 egg

4. Mix everything together. Do not over mix, and don't worry if it looks very vegetable heavy. The purpose of batter for this is to bind vegetables,together, not to eat the batter.

5. Pour the mixture onto hot griddle, then add whatever the topping you want to put on top (for this one, I used thinly sliced scallops.

For this one, I used sliced pork belly (fatter meat always taste better)

6. when all the sides are dry and cooking side is browned enough, flip it at once. Make smaller round so that it's easy to flip without making a total disaster.

7. DO NOT PRESS. This will make it tough, and you will be very much yelled at if you do it in Japan at DIY places.

8. When both sides are done, add sauce (you can buy okonomiyaki sauce at Japanese grocery stores), mayo (of course kewpie), aonori (dried seaweed), and katsuo-bushi (bonito flakes).

To make takoyaki, first of all, you must have takoyaki pan. Some As Seen on TV programs sell doughnut mold shaped round, and I am sure you can use them, but it might be way too huge. Or some Amish dessert have a ball shaped dough thing, and it could be used as well.

Takoyaki making method:
1. Grease the pan with enough oil. This is the key to make crispy outside. Similar to pop over method. The more oil you put in each hole, the crisper it gets.

2. Pour batter into the pan until it overflows. Add 1 piece of small diced octopus, chopped scallions, cabbage, pickled red ginger, and tenkasu evenly into all the holes. You don't want to have takoyaki without tako, ya know.

3. Wait until it browns, and here is the tricky part. Once it starts browning, quickly flip them, gather overflown parts and try to stick them into the ball, in order to make somewhat nice sphere shape. Using long bamboo skewer or chopstick will work perfectly.

4. Once you start the flipping, you keep flipping so that all the sides are cooked evenly.

5. When they are bouncy and crispy outside, it's done. Pour sauce (you can use the same sauce for okonomiyaki, or you can also buy takoyaki sauce) and eat them.

Warning, they are EXTREMELY hot, especially when you bite into it, and many people make mistakes by biting prematurely. You may put them into your mouth, but don't bite it until it cools slightly, otherwise, you will lose your taste buds for like 2 days.

The very best way is to put it into your mouth, they breath in and out, which helps cooling down, then you can bite into it. Other option is to cut them and wait until it cools, but what kind of fun is it?! Virtue of Takoyaki=almost burns your mouth, but not really.

Since you can cook both okonomiyaki and takoyaki while talking, drinking, dancing, or whatever, it's a pretty good idea for party food.


1 comment

  • GREAT POST! so sad i missed the party. i love how Mari’s parents trekked a takoyaki machine all the way from japan. looks lovely!!!

    kayoko on

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