Thursday, May 7, 2009

Freddie Prinze Jr is to Cabbage as ...

I tried okonomiyaki for the first time at a random Japanese restaurant in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. A friend told me about these "amazing cabbage thingys" I just had to try. In general, I think "amazing" and "cabbage" generally fit together like Rachael Leigh Cook and Freddie Prinze Jr. in She's All That -- unlikely, but oh so good when it happens. And happen, it did.

So recently, when I was thinking about what to do with some of the communal cabbage that's been sitting in a plastic bag in our fridge, I naturally thought of this. However, most recipes for authentic okonomiyaki are pretty complicated and include lots of hard-to-get-on-an-island things like shredded Yamaimo (a mountain yam), bonito flakes, tenkasu (tempura flakes) and dashi. Finally, I stumbled on this recipe on 101 cookbooks and was inspired to try something nice and simple.

I think it's especially cool that these pancakes are made from almost all farm ingredients.

Japanese Cabbage Pancakes with Sweet & Tangy Sauce (Okonomiyaki)
Makes 3 pancakes


1.5 cups cabbage
1 cup leeks
1/4 cup carrots, grated
1/2 cup white rice flour
2 eggs
2 tbsp water salt and pepper to taste
oil to fry


1/2 Cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 Cup Ketchup

2 Tbsp Soy sauce
1/4 Cup Brown sugar

1 Tbsp Mustard powder
Pepper to taste

To make the sauce, combine worchestershire sauce, ketchup, and soy sauce in a small saucepan until simmering. Add brown sugar and mustard powder and stir until dissolved. Cook for 5-10 minutes until reduced by 1/3 or until you get the yummy thick consistency of teriyaki or barbeque sauce. Resist the urge to take a spoonful and let your sauce cool while you start your pancakes.

Finely shred cabbage. If using carrots, peel, then grate on a large-size cheese grater. Cut green tops and bottom roots of leeks and cut remaining white section down the center. Wash well to get rid of any grit that might be stuck way down in there. Slice the washed leeks into half-moons. Mix cabbage, leeks, and carrots together in a bowl.

Add rice flour, salt and pepper and mix well. In a separate bowl, beat eggs and water together. Pour the egg over the veggies and stir well to coat. The mixture will not seem batter like -- it will be more like veggies coated in flour. This is okay -- I promise it will come together in the pan.

Heat 1-2 tbsp of oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. When hot, scoop 1/3 of the mixture into the center of the pan. Use your spoon or fork to flatten out batter. I find it helpful to have another utensil in hand to shape the outside of the pancake as I press down, as the veggies tend to want to fall apart.
Fry for 2-3 minutes on one side, then flip with a large spatula. Fry another 2-3 minutes and remove from pan.

Serve while piping hot, drizzled with sauce.


  1. oo! let's have an okonomiyaki party!!

  2. Yes! And in Berkeley we can get the REAL stuff. Yum.