April 20 Okonomiyaki
Hawaii is a great place to eat international foods without actually going to some foreign country. Just in terms of Japanese foods, for example, there are yakiniku, ramen, sushi, shabu shabu, and sukiyaki restaurants. And many local families enjoy eating and preparing Japanese foods in their own homes. One thing that isn’t quite common, though, is okonomiyaki.
I had never even heard of okonomiyaki until two years ago when my friend, Akemi, saw it on an episode of “Soko ga Shiritai.” Before I left for Japan, she told me that I had to eat it. I had no idea what it was, so I never tried it until six months later when Kyle came to visit. We found an okonomiyaki restaurant and nervously stepped inside.
That first okonomiyaki experience was horrible! We didn’t know what to order, nor could we figure out how to prepare it. We had to ask the obasan at the restaurant to help us! (It was a make-it-yourself restaurant.) I remember Kyle and I getting this huge bowl of cabbage with a egg cracked open over the top, and we almost laughed out loud and left for the nearest tonkatsu joint. We felt ultimately clueless and hopeless in this foreign country.
I swore off okonomiyaki, and called Akemi to tell her that it was horrible.
Later, I spent the night at a Japanese friend’s home. She asked me if okonomiyaki was okay for dinner. Being the good girl, I said, “Of course!” and secretly wished I had eaten breakfast that morning. But to my total surprise, I loved it!
So I tried it again, and again. And it was still good. I went to Osaka and Hiroshima and ate their famous okonomiyaki. And it was delicious! But when I came home to Hawaii, I realized that there aren’t many okonomiyaki restaurants, except for Okonomiyaki Chibo at the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center. So, I made it at home.
This past week, I made okonomiyaki dinners for my friends TWICE! Of course, I’d rather not eat the same thing twice in the same week, but I couldn’t just throw away half a cabbage! My friends really liked it, and no one had ever had it before. I was always known as the one who burned my saimin in college, but ironically, I’m being entrusted to host regular dinners.
My favorite okonomiyaki “topping” is kimchee. And, I like to mix in moyashi with the cabbage. Another great hint is to use pastry flour instead of regular flour. Otherwise, it’s such a simple meal to make!
Here’s my “daitai” recipe:
*1/2 C pastry flour
*1/4 C water
*3/4 C (a handful) of moyashi and chopped cabbage
*Add-ins: Kimchee, chicken, pork, shrimp, scallops, crab, or anything you want!
Cook it like a pancake. You can usually make 3-4 little pancake-sized okonomiyaki with the above measurements.
Dress with mayo or okonomiyaki sauce (you can buy it at Marukai), and katsuo flakes!
Susan Sensei’s English Lesson #26（スーザン先生の英語講座 その26）
For two years I taught English in Japan, and was “スーザン先生” to my students in Ikaho town, Gunma Prefecture. I will try and introduce new words and phrases for the Japanese visitor to Hawaii. Here is this week’s situation:
◆ “May I see a children’s menu?”
Have a nice trip!
|Loco Girl’s Profile（ロコ・ガールのプロフィール）
Born in Hilo, I grew up going fishing with Dad, shopping with Mom, and trying to be a good “big sister” to a younger sister and brother. A Waiakea High School and the University of Hawaii at Manoa alumni, I taught English in Japan for two years on the JET Program, and am now employed at PacRim Marketing Group, Inc. I love doing a lot of things-shopping, reading, lettering, making jewelry & crafts, watching Friends-and that’s just the start of my list! I like being busy, and am active with the JET Alumni Association (JETAA) and the Honolulu Junior Japanese Chamber of Commerce (HJJCC.) My family and friends are, of course, very important to me, and are why I live a very typical, happy, local-style life in Hawaii and will never leave!