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CSA Cookoff: Okonomiyaki (aka Japanese-Style Savory Cabbage Pancake)


THE CHALLENGE
Cabbage. Try as I might, I just don’t love it. (Sorry, Mom: The truth hurts.) Sure, it does its job in eggrolls and kimchi, but the mere thought of boiled cabbage sends shivers down my spine. Which means I’m always looking for ways to put a bowtie on the stuff. In summer, that’s slaw. In fall, it’s …

THE SOLUTION
Okonomiyake, a savory Japanese pancake with cousins in other cultures’ cuisines—pajeon, for example, in Korean cooking. I like it best as a seafood-delivery system, but you can throw all sorts of things in there, from chicken to bacon to shredded squash. Okonomiyake has more of a traditional batter consistency than zucchini pancakes and can stand on its own as a main course. Bonus: Topping your pancakes with bonito (also called katsuobushi, pictured below and available at Asian groceries), which reacts to heat by fluttering and shimmying, will thrill kids of all ages. Just don’t tell them it’s dried fish flakes.

THE INGREDIENTS
Makes about seven 5-inch pancakes; *indicates an item from my farm share

>> 1 head of cabbage, roughly shredded*
>> 2 large carrots, grated*
>> 1 chili pepper, minced (bell or otherwise)*
>> 1 bunch green onions, diced (scallions are the traditional option here, but I used one small yellow onion and one shallot from the week’s farm share)*
>> ½ lb raw shrimp, lightly seared (in the past, I’ve also used octopus and squid)
>> 3 eggs, lightly beaten
>> ¾ c all-purpose flour
>> ¾ c milk
>> 2 t soy sauce
>> 1 T veggie oil

THE DIRECTIONS
In a large bowl, mix the cabbage, carrots, pepper, and onions. In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, flour, milk, and soy sauce. Pour the batter over your veggie mixture and toss thoroughly. Add the oil to a skillet or griddle over medium heat. Scoop half-cup blobs of the batter onto the cooking surface, aiming for a 5-inch circle. Press a few of your seared shrimp into each blob. Cook for about four minutes or until the bottom is golden brown. Flip and cook for four more minutes. Drain on paper towels and keep warm in the oven until you finish the batch.

You can find all kind of recipes for okonomiyake sauces, but I usually just mix a few things I have on hand and call it done. This time, I shook up hoisin, Worcestershire, sweet chili, and fish sauces to taste in a Mason jar, poured it over the pancake, and topped the whole thing with a healthy sprinkling of waving pink bonito. Well, hello right back atcha, dinner. Prepare to be eaten.

STILL HUNGRY? For more HOMEGROWN recipes, browse the CSA Cookoff file.

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