Pork belly okonomiyaki (Japanese pancakes)

Okonomiyaki are one of my personal favorite things to make. The first time I ever had one was with my cousins, and it was delicious. It’s a Japanese pancake batter that can have a variety of things in it, but typically you would find cabbage, pork, and a delicious sauce and Japanese mayonnaise. A lot of varieties also garnish with bonito flakes as well, but in my case, I went with nasturtium because I had those and not bonito. For the sauce, it is a rich, dark sauce, made with Worcestershire and ketchup typically. I wanted to use tomato paste and maple instead, just because I like the combination a little bit better. For the Japanese mayonnaise, it is a pretty standard aioli recipe, with the only key differences being the usage of rice wine vinegar and MSG powder to flavor it. MSG adds in the umami that Japanese mayonnaise has compared to your regular mayo, so it is an essential ingredient to making this from scratch. Overall, it’s a relatively simple recipe, just because it is three components, being the pancake, and two sauces, but it’s fun to eat with friends and family.

For the pancake batter:
1 cup julienned napa cabbage
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons soda water
5 thin slices of pork belly
a pinch of salt

Render the pork belly with a little bit of oil and salt in a nonstick pan. Remove the pork belly, reserving it, and the rendered fat. Toss cabbage with the salt and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Combine baking powder with flour. Toss the cabbage in the dry ingredients and form a well. Beat your eggs together. Pour eggs and soda water into the center of the well and mix together. Heat up the nonstick pan with the rendered pork belly in it to medium heat and place in the batter. Place the rendered pork belly pieces on the other side. Allow to cook for about 5-6 minutes on medium heat before carefully flipping. Allow to continue cooking for another 5 minutes before flipping onto a serving plate, pork belly side facing up.

For the Okonomiyaki sauce:
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 clove black garlic
a pinch of salt

Mince the black garlic with your salt into a paste and mix in the mustard and tomato paste. Mix together the other ingredients and reduce those by half in a pot over low heat. Finally, whisking in your paste and continue to mix until the lumps are out and the liquid has thickened to a syrup consistency. Allow to cool before glazing the pancake with.

For the Japanese mayonnaise:
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon MSG powder
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 cup canola or vegetable oil
a pinch of salt

Combine egg yolk, MSG, salt, and vinegar first. Whisk in the oil slowly, allowing the egg to thicken and emulsify with it. Continue whisking until thickened and pale.

For garnish:
Nasturtium leaves and petals


One Comment Add yours

  1. Virginia L. says:

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge and expertise so freely! This is a rather common dish in Japan. However, with your articulation and explanation, you really have elevated it. I am bookmarking this post!

    Liked by 1 person

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