CSA Week 12 and its Uses
Last week brought more of these gorgeous, slender, colorful baby eggplants in our CSA shares from Little River Market Garden. Every time we get these I've been meaning to try to duplicate the wood-oven roasted eggplant dish that's often on the menu at Michael's Genuine, and finally got around to it.
Lacking a wood-burning oven, instead I salted the eggplants, rubbed them with olive oil, and then grilled them on a cast-iron grill pan. Meanwhile, I warmed some more olive oil in another pan and toasted some pine nuts in the oil, then warmed and plumped some black raisins. I found fresh garbanzo beans at Whole Foods and those (plucked from their pods and blanched for a few minutes in boiling water) also went into the pan. I dolloped the plate with thick Greek yogurt, laid over the pine nuts, raisins and garbanzos along with the grilled eggplant, and then sprinkled everything with smoked salt and ras al hanout.
It may be one of the best things I've ever made from our vegetable shares. Go do this.
We've also been sort of loading up on cabbages from the CSA lately, both the customary Napa cabbage and other heirloom varieties, and so I was looking for something that would use up a good bit of it at once. That doesn't fully explain why I decided to make okonomiyaki - I was also just sort of in the mood for it.
"Okonomiyaki" is a Japanese dish that's something between an omelet and a savory pancake. If you believe Wikipedia, it literally translates as "what you like" (okonomi) "grilled" (yaki), which kind of makes sense, as the ingredients do vary somewhat, though most versions start with an egg and flour batter mixed with cabbage, which is then supplemented with various fillings or toppings. Okonomiyaki is, I suspect, drunk food of the highest order.
After scouring the intertubes for recipes, I used this one from "Okonomiyaki World" as my basic reference point. I didn't have "okonomiyaki flour," but I did have takoyaki flour which seemed close enough for rock n roll, especially since it contained some yam potato flour (real okonomiyaki typically contains grated yamaimo, or mountain yam, in the batter, whose sticky texture helps bind it; takoyaki are octopus-studded dumplings oddly similar to Danish ebelskiver). Here was my basic formula:
1 cup takoyaki flour
2/3 cup dashi (from instant powder)
4 cups cabbage, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
2 stalks Chinese leek (subbing for green onion; also from CSA)
~12 Key West pink shrimp, shelled, deveined and chopped
2 strips bacon, each cut in half
Takoyaki sauce (subbed for okonomi sauce - not sure there's a difference)
Furikake (subbed for aonori)
Beni shoga (pickled ginger)
Katsuobushi (bonito flakes)
Whisk the flour and dashi until just blended. Add the cabbage, the Chinese leek, the eggs, and the shrimp, and mix.
Heat a large nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Rub the pan with one of the bacon slices to grease the pan, then dump the mixed batter into the pan (the recipe recommended making two smaller pancakes, which was probably a good idea, but I did one big one). Lay the bacon slices over the top, loosely cover the pan with a lid, and cook for about 5 minutes. Push the edges in if they're runny.
Flip the pancake (I did this frittata style by first flipping the pan over on to a plate, then sliding the pancake off the plate back into the pan, though you can also try to use two spatulas if you're bold) and cook another 5 minutes on the other side. If it still looks gooey, flip again and cook another 5 minutes.
Remove to a plate, drizzle with Kewpie mayo and takoyaki/okonomiyaki sauce to taste, sprinkle with furikake, add a mound of beni shoga, and then garnish the thing with katsuobushi, which should wriggle and dance in the heat.
And now you've got okonomiyaki.