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March 11, 2010: The “Ten Commandments of Okonomiyaki”

March 11, 2010

An edited excerpt from Chef Saitos’ book “Way Beyond Sushi, A New World of Okonomiyaki”

OK. There’s really 11.

Commandment #1: Have a hot griddle

The griddle temperature should be from 320°F-410° F (160°C- 210°C) You can test your iron griddle by dropping water droplets on the Griddle’s surface. If they move around very rapidly, it is too hot.  If the droplets stay in one place and make a water puddle, the heat is too low.

Commandment #2: Spread the batter in a circle

Use a ladle to pour the batter on the heated griddle.  Using the round bottom of the ladle, move in a circular motion from the center towards to the outside, increasing its circumference.

Commandment #3: Use the proper cooking oil

To make the cooked surface crispy and prevent it from sticking, Okonomiyaki Restaurants often use lard for its flavor and appearance. Since I already have high cholesterol, I use vegetable oil. Non-stick cooking spray works well. I do not recommend an oil with a strong taste such as olive oil.

Commandment #4: Cut the cabbage in thin slices

Cut the cabbage in quarters from top to bottom. You will see a hard core. Cut out the core and then cut the cabbage cross-wise, cutting from the top to the bottom. This helps to maintain the crisp texture of the cabbage. Cut as thin as possible. Also, cabbage is sweeter close to the bottom.

Commandment #5: Don’t push!

After turning over the Okonomiyaki, don’t push it down with your spatula. Pressing squishes the small air bubbles and makes Okonomiyaki a heavy texture instead of light and pleasing. Also, not pushing down allows steam from vegetables to circulate better because air spaces can move around. That brings out the sweetness of the cabbage.

Commandment #6: Perfect timing

For Hiroshima Style Okonomiyaki, cook at 390°F for 4 minutes on one side and 8 on the other to accommodate the extra thickness of cabbage & bean sprouts.

Commandment #7: For speed, use the quick method

If you have a Panini machine, a Foreman grill, or sandwich press you can cook a quick Okonomiyaki.  Due to the pressure from top, I recommend you put more vegetables than usual so the Okonomiyaki won’t be too flattened by the top griddle.

Commandment #8: Trap the heat

For Kansai Style, you can put a lid on the griddle when you first turn over the Okonomiyaki.  This will help to steam the cabbage on top while maintaining the crispness on the bottom.

Commandment #9: Put air in

Wait until right before you are ready to cook to mix the ingredients.  Then try to turn as much air into the mixture as possible to ensure its fluffiness.  The best method is to mix the ingredients from bottom to the top in a circular motion for 30 seconds.

Commandment #10: Get the right thickness

The thickness of the Kansai Okonomiyaki should be around 3/4 inch, which is the best thickness to maintain its correct doneness.  Hiroshima Style may be as thick as 4-6 inches, depending on the ingredients added.

Commandment #11: Decorate the top of the Okonomiyaki

There are a few methods of decorating with toppings and sauces.  A typical one is a drawing lines on top of sauced Okonomiyaki.  You create a thin lines every quarter inch and draw a think lines perpendicular to mayonnaise lines with a chop stick or a back of knife.

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