Healthy Cooking: Okonomiyaki

I haven’t posted as much on cooking in the last year as i’ve been working on the voice of the blog – which I settled on as being “mine” which cleared things up.

So let me share one of my secrets of healthy, fast, delicious cooking: Okonomiyaki.

Okonomiyaki’s been descried in many ways – usually poorly – so I’ll give my own summary: a pancake with vegetables and often savory ingredients in it, served with sauces (usually Bulldog and mayo). It’s a Japanese creation, repurposed from other cuisine, and quite popular as you can do it many ways – the name itself comes from “as you like it.”

To me, it’s a way to get a healthy meal fast that’s easy to eat. Of course I do it my way.

See I use chickpea flour. Chickpea Flour, aka Gram flour, aka Besan Flour, has two benefits:

  • It’s high protein because its’ pulverized beans.
  • When mixed with water, it’s sticky, so you don’t need eggs (great for vegans, people with allergies, or folks that just don’t want eggs).

Seriously, Chickpea Flour is culinary magic.

So here’s my take on using Oknonomiyaki to eat healthy – now this does involve a bit of oil for frying so it’s not as healthy as it could be, but still.

For a single serving you need

  • 1 cup besan flour
  • 1 tsp aluminum-free baking powder (you can also use baking soda if you stir in a tsp of vinegar right before cooking)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2+ cups shredded vegetables – traditionally cabbage, I use finely shredded cabbage and carrots in a 3-1 blend. you can also try grated sweet potato, spinach, and chopped tomatoes (though they add a little water to the mix). Think of it like a veggie omelet if you want to get ideas.
  • Sauces of your choice (I recommend barbecue or Bulldog, some mix with mayo – I need to post my own version of Bulldog sometime).

To do this:

  1. Mix Chickpea Flour, baking powder and water in a bowl. Mix thoroughly as the flour can form little lumps.
  2. Gradually add the shredded vegetables, stirring until the bowl is basically vegetables coated in batter, stuck together. I get in as much as possible, which is usually a bit over two cups depending how well shredded it is.
  3. Heat a non-stick pan and add a bit of oil (olive or sesame) when hot, then dump the bowl and fry it up like a pancake. It usually takes 3-5 minutes a side -and try not to press down on it so it fluffs up.
  4. The complete pancake fits easily onto a standard plate. Dump it out and serve with sauce – even a bit of soy does the trick.

That’s it – a giant heaping helping of leafy greens and powdered beans turned into a delicious pancake.

There’s also ways to enhance it:

  1. Add soy sauce to the mixture to add savory tastes
  2. Add pickled ginger (about a tablespoon) for a great kick.
  3. Add about 1/4 cup kimchi – that adds fluid, so I’d use a bit less water.

To make it even easier? Keep a bag of frozen shredded vegetables in the freezer to grab whenever you want.

I’m sure you can come up with more ways to do it! It’s become one of my go-to for a quick healthy meal that tastes great – nothing like a nice, warm, savory pancake filled with nutritional goodness, with some nice condiments, after a hard day. I tend to make it about once a week.

Give it a try, let me know how it comes out for you.