Month: March 2015

Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savory pancake. The word okonomiyaki means “what you like, cooked”. Accordingly there are many types and variations — most have cabbage and some sort of batter; often pork is included, though sometimes seafood is used. The recipe below is for a type invented in Osaka which is the most commonly found type throughout Japan. Lots of toppings are added, most commonly: a sweet-salty sauce (okonomiyaki sauce or tonkatsu sauce), mayonnaise, bonito flakes, and aonori (seaweed powder). You can draw designs with themayonnaise or marble the sauces with a toothpick . When the tissue-thin bonito flakes are put on top of the hot pancake, they appear to “dance” — they move about from the hot air rising. The version below uses thinly sliced pork belly (available at Japanese markets) — the notes at the end of the recipe explain how to substitute ground pork or minced shrimp. My favorites are the pork belly and the ground pork versions. I don’t recommend substituting bacon because its flavor is very strong; it overwhelms the pancake and tends to make the entire …

Shanghai

I recently visited Shanghai for a week. I was surprised how new and modern it is. There are new buildings and skyscapers everywhere. There are also lots of commercial districts; every brand that I can think of seems to have a branch in Shanghai–the city is lush from China’s economic boom. There are many types of street foods (some of the variety can be seen LifeOnNanchangLu.com) but the most exciting street foods for me was the many types of dumplings that are available. Dumplings are conceptually simple–they’re meat wrapped in a starchy dough. But there are many variations and each has a different technique, taste, and often an intricate folding technique. I wanted to taste several different types on my trip in order to improve my dumpling making skills and to learn about new types. Shanghai is famous for inventing xiaolongbao (also called “xlb”, “juicy pork dumplings”, “soup dumplings”, or “Shanghai soup dumplings”). Another specialty of Shanghai are Shengjianbao (pan-fried buns). But there is also boiled dumplings (a style popular in the north of China), intricate styles such as four happiness dumplings, shumai (a …