You may recall that I have been on a bit of a cabbage jag in my cooking. I have been scouring the internet for hearty recipes that embolden cabbage to play the starring role it deserves. This post proudly documents a worthy, cabbage-centric recipe. The best part is I didn’t have to search for it; it found me. Here you have a unique, yet accessible spin on a cabbage-y weeknight dinner. If you’re in a cooking rut, this one might just get your juices flowing. It was fun to make, tasty, and inexpensive. If that isn’t a winning combination, I’m not sure what is.
What is this wonder food, you ask? It is a veggie-laden, Japanese-style pancake called okonomiyaki: various vegetables and protein bound with an eggy batter, and fried like a pancake. My version is packed with cabbage, and stippled with chopped shrimp, like sweet, pink gems. My okonomiyaki are flavored with soy, toasted sesame oil, and scallions, and then garnished with a sriracha-soy mayo, spiked with lime for levity. I was browsing through my current food blog crush, Big Girls Small Kitchen, and I came across a vegetarian version of okonomiyaki. It was quite tempting: shredded cabbage and zucchini in a simple batter, fried, and topped with spicy mayo sauce. It is vaguely reminiscent of egg foo young, one of my childhood favorites. Okonomiyaki simultaneously scratches two of my recurring culinary itches: a desire to eat more vegetables, and my propensity towards rich, comforting food. Further investigation of the article lead me to the recipe on Food52, which was BGSK’s inspiration to make the dish. That’s the one that stole my heart. It is nearly the same except Food52 skips the zucchini, and adds shrimp. All this recipe needs is a quarter pound of shrimp to get the job done. That’s about $3.50 worth of shrimp at Whole Foods. Buy a cabbage, eggs, and a few dollars worth of seafood, and you have an incredible meal on deck.
Okonomiyaki could not be simpler, or more fun to prepare. First, toast some sesame seeds, and whisk together a mayonnaise-based sauce. I am partial to olive oil mayonnaise, but pick your poison. Then you shred about half a medium cabbage, which sounds like more work than it actually is. You could use a mandoline slicer, but given my history, I strongly discourage that. Use a knife; it’s much safer. Anyway, shred your cabbage and chop your scallions. Next you get to make that rich batter: beat some eggs with some soy sauce, sesame oil, and salt. I was a little overexcited, and dumped in the flour prior to beating my eggs (as my photography will reveal). You will not do this. It’s not an egregious error, but beating your eggs prior to adding the flour will result in a smoother batter. Then you mix in the cabbage, scallions, and chopped shrimp, and shallow fry these free-form pancakes in a cast iron skillet. Top them with the spicy pink sauce that has been patiently waiting for you, and toasted sesame seeds, and you have a delightful dinner.
A few notes: The recipe below is written as I made it, with the exception of the aforementioned batter-mixing error. I included about four cups of shredded cabbage (compared to the two cups stipulated in the original Food52 recipe). Honestly, I think these cakes could hold a scant five cups of cabbage. I used a standard kitchen ladle to scoop my batter, and this yielded 5 pancakes. This worked well, but next time I would like to play with the thickness and diameter of the cakes. There was nothing wrong with my small, thick pancakes, but I would be curious to see the effect of spreading out the batter a bit. Also, this batter is a heterogeneous mixture. Once it hits the hot pan, the eggy part of the mixture will run. Fear not: let it set for about 30-60 seconds, and then use a spatula to pull the rogue edges in towards the heap of cabbage and shrimp. Problem solved. Okonomiyaki is a gem of a recipe for any home cook because it is most likely something new and different, yet still accessible. This is delicious, simple, shrimp-studded, and unique; in other words, it is a unanimous winner.
makes 2 generous portions
For the sauce:
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sriracha (start with a teaspoon, and add more to taste)
- Juice from half a lime
For the pancakes:
- 5 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/3 cup AP flour
- 4 cups cabbage, thinly sliced
- 1 bunch scallions, trimmed and chopped
- 1/4 pound shrimp, chopped
- canola oil for frying
- 1-2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- Whisk all of the ingredients for the sauce, and set aside while you assemble the pancakes.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs with the soy sauce, sesame oil, and salt. Gradually add the flour, whisking until incorporated. Fold in cabbage, scallions, and shrimp.
- Warm an even layer of canola oil (or other light colored oil) in a large skillet over medium-high heat until glistening (you want between an eighth and a quarter inch of oil).
- Ladle the batter into the skillet, pulling in the sides if the batter spreads. Cook on each side for about 3 minutes or until golden brown. Let the pancakes drain on a plate lined with paper towel. (Midge says you can keep the pancakes covered in a warm oven as you make the rest.)
- Drizzle the pancakes with the sauce, and top with sesame seeds. Enjoy!
December 20, 2014