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Sticky Soy Pork Belly Okonomiyaki {Recipe}

By August 14, 2017 ,

Okonomiyaki, literally means "grilled as you like" is a savoury version of Japanese pancake, made with flour, eggs, shredded cabbage, meat/protein and topped off with a variety of condiments, typically kewpie mayo, bonito flakes and spring onion. Prior to visiting Japan, I had no idea what an okonomiyaki was. In fact it was purely a (happy) coincidence that I got to savour this Japanese dish:

My first time eating okonomiyaki was back in 2015. Weary after a long day of walking and exploring Kyoto in the rain, Steve was craving for hot food and cold beer. A quick search on Google led us to a teppanyaki restaurant in a multi-level mall near Kyoto station. We were famished and ordered the first few things we saw on the menu. From the kitchen came this glorious pancake-like thing topped with writhing bonito flakes, which sizzled and smoked on the grill pan in front of us. We were famished and quite literally ate off the grill pan. The first crispy bite on the okonomiyaki when the soft, still-hot filling hit my tongue, my whole body warmed up and the colour of everything around me suddenly seemed more vivid. It might've been my hunger that exaggerated the experience, but that rainy Autumn night in that greasy, smoky restaurant watching Steve enjoying his tall schooner of Sapporo beer, I never felt happier.

Alas, I have yet to discover an excellent okonomiyaki here in Melbourne. Some came close, but none brought me back to that cold night in Kyoto. So when I saw Gourmet Traveller's okonomiyaki recipe doing the rounds on Facebook, I promptly saved it and attempted it on a similarly cold Friday night. Granted, this recipe is topped with sticky soy pork belly, which is more Chinese and Japanese. But it seemed like an interesting pairing.

The result? I was amused at how easy it was to prepare the okonomiyaki batter. Don't worry if you don't have a teppanyaki grill, neither do I. A regular frying pan will do just fine. I wasn't up to the task of slow cooking the pork belly, per the recipe, so I swapped it for my Quick and Easy Dong Bo Rou. Same same but different? Maybe, but Steve was overjoyed when he got home to find his dinner was something out of the ordinary. So that's a win in my books.

Sticky Soy Pork Belly Okonomiyaki
(Recipe modified from Australian Gourmet Traveller)

3 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs, lightly beaten
4 Chinese cabbage leaves, coarsely torn
3 spring onions, thinly sliced, plus extra to serve
1 small sebago potato, coarsely grated
50 ml vegetable oil

To served: Japanese (Kewpie) mayonnaise

Sticky soy pork belly (Quick and Easy Dong Bo Rou)
2 strips of pork belly, skin on, cut into 2cm pieces.
3 inches ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
100 grams rock sugar or brown sugar
4 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 cup Shaoxing wine
2 cups chicken/vegetable stock

For sticky soy pork belly, bring a medium sauce pan heat to medium high and add peanut oil. Sauté the ginger and garlic until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Add the sugar to the pan and stir constantly till sugar melts. Add the wine and soy sauces. Once boiling, reduce to low and pour in half the stock or water. Mix well. Place the pork belly pieces skin side down in the pan. Top up with the rest of the stock. The liquid must at least almost cover the pork. Add water if necessary. Increase heat to medium high and wait for the liquid to come to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to the lowest simmer, cover and braise for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, flip the pork belly pieces and continue braising, covered, for another 30-40 minutes, basting the skin occasionally, until pork is tender enough to be broken with a pair of chopsticks. Skim off any extra oil from the sauce in the pan. Whisk the reduced sauce while the pan is still hot. If you prefer more gravy, add boiling water bit by bit to get your preferred gravy consistency. Remove and let stand. Sauce will thicken as it cools.

To make the okonomiyaki, c
ombine flour, baking powder and 2 tsp sea salt in a large bowl, make a well in the centre, add eggs and gradually add 500ml cold water, stirring until smooth and combined. Stir in cabbage, onion and potato and set aside to rest for 30 minutes.

Heat one-quarter of the vegetable oil in a 15cm-diameter non-stick frying pan over medium heat, add one-quarter of the pancake batter, spreading evenly in pan, and cook until golden on the base and beginning to set on the surface (6-8 minutes). Turn and cook until cooked through (6-8 minutes), then transfer to an oven tray and keep warm while you repeat with remaining oil and pancake batter.

Top hot okonomiyaki with Japanese mayonnaise, sticky soy pork belly and spring onion, then drizzle with glaze. Serve hot.


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