Okonomiyaki – A “Japanese pizza” kit that is as fun to make as it is to eat

Almost any starch should sub for the yam starch. Kudzu, arrow root, tapioca, even flour in a pinch. After all its basically just an omelet or eggy pancake. As for the bonito flake (and it is bonito) can probably be subbed for any dried fish product. Though the texture will be quite different. Or it can easily be found online. Fish sauce doesn’t tastes nearly the same, and it will soak into the pancake changing the flavor quite a bit. After that most of the exotic stuff can be found online. Okonomoyaki sauce is the exact same (or nearly) as Tonkatsu sauce, and you can make a suitable version at home:

And Japanese style mayonaise is incredibly easy to make. Just make some fresh mayonnaise using just egg yolks no whites, cider vinegar for the acid, and sprinkle in a bit of MSG (this is critical, its the major reason Japanese mayo tastes so different).

Most supermarkets or specialty markets should have sheets of nori for sushi you can toast and chop up.

After that everything is just normal stuff you can find anywhere. Its basically those toppings that are harder to find, and I’ve seen okonomiyaki done without either/both bonito and seaweed.

I’d go easy on the bonito anyway, its pretty strongly flavored so it can overwhelm everything else. Its also pretty dry and hard to chew so too much is a textural problem. The same batter can be used for takoyaki if its heavy enough on starch. Just use an aebleskiver or similar pan.

Not all of us live in places that are anywhere an Asian grocery. I’m in the NYC metro area and I still need to drive an hour plus to get to an Asian market. And that market will be pretty rigidly Chinese. They carry a lot of dried Ramen, Japanese Condiments, and prepackaged curry mix. But that’s it on Japanese ingredients. No bonito, no Japanese seaweed products. I tend to wait till I’m in Queens visiting friends to load up on Asian and Irish products. I’ve got family in the rural south, and central Maine. The one time we checked down south the nearest Asian market was a few hundred miles away. In Maine I suspect it would be even further. I’ve never even seen a white person with a tan in my mother’s home town. My great Aunts and Uncles still look at Italians as suspicious non-white intruders, and they don’t even have Chinese take out places. Or vegetables beyond iceberg lettuce apparently.

It was initially described to me as a omelet, but its certainly more pancake like in a lot of ways.

I wonder if TetraMin will do?

Wow, cant swing a cat without finding a place that has Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Thai, etc. in Seattle. Maybe being on the Pacific Rim helps.

I think being anywhere in something approaching a urban,exurban, or traditional suburbs environment helps. I basically live in the town from Jaws, but with potato farms. We’re only like 40 or 50 miles from that Asian market, but owning to stupid highway layout and traffic its an hour away on a good day. And though there’s a small Chinese community out here, we don’t have much in terms of embedded Asian ethnic communities. For minimal extra afford I can actually enter the city limits, not hang out in a strip mall, and spend some time with friends. So I don’t tend to bother.

For those completely outside major metro areas? Or off the coasts? You’re talking Panda Wok and PF Changs as “authentic” Asian cuisine.

Ahh, when you said NYC metro area earlier I kinda pictured something more… well, urban. But having never been there I have no clue how big that is and how small town some of it can be.

Yeah its just occurred to me that I don’t think many people really realize how big NYC actually is. I ran into this a lot when I lived in Philly.

People would tell me “Philly is bigger than New York if you include the suburbs” or “New York isn’t all that much bigger than Philly” or something similar. They were pretty much viewing New York as just Manhattan, mistakenly. And I hear the same from a lot of people from further afield or who haven’t been there. But Manhattan is only one burrough, there are 4 more. 4 other full sized cities that are all a part of New York City. So I tell people to combine 5 of their city and your roughly in the area for just the city limits. But that doesn’t neccisarily work too well. NY is apparently 469 square miles for city limits. So looks like around 2 Chicagoes (234 square miles), a little over 3 Seatles (142.5 square miles), and about the same for Philly (they beat you by .1 square miles!)

But the Metro Area is pretty huge. We often just talk about the “tri-state area” because once you start talking about NY and its surrounds you’re basically half way to including all of CT and NJ. You’ve got the rest of Long Island ( ‘Rest of’ cause its a geographic feature not a municipality, it encompasses Brooklyn and Queens and 2 other counties that are each bigger than Brooklyn and Queens combined in terms of land mass). A significant chunk of Western Connecticut, nearly one half of New Jersey, and a nice sized piece of Upstate New York (including the Hudson River Valley, Yonkers and more). Basically if you travel at least 100 miles from the city limits (not its center) in almost any direction your still well inside its area of influence. Hell I’ve know people who commute daily from Boston and Philly to NYC. Not business trips, or a few days a week at a satellite office. People who work daily in New York, at a business that is run out of New York, in an office that is physically in New York. But whose home is in one of those two cities. Its really bizarre when you think about it too much. The furthest eastern bit of Long Island (where I’m at) is quite rural. Big parts of Western CT, sections of Jersey, and the Hudson River Valley even more so.

Oddly enough I’ve tasted TetraMin and to be perfectly honest, yes. Its texturally a lot different. Its more brittle, dissolves a bit on the tongue, and less substantial. But it tastes surprisingly similar.

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I find that greenies-chews are a fine substitute for brushing and flossing.

Yeah, it goes without saying that you need at least some expat population for them to pop up. If you’re in a town that only has a handful of stores, they’re not gonna have a Japanese grocer.

I’m not really sure what constitutes metro NYC, but do these 4 stores not count?

Obviously you’re better to get it cheaply off teh interwebs, but NYC does seem to have options.

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Those are all in NYC limits, if I’m going to go all the way into the city the best options are in Flushing and Woodside. NYC has tons of options. Hell every bodega on every corner has at least some Asian groceries. But I’m about a 2 hour drive/train ride from there. The closer options aren’t much closer and aren’t very good. I just go to Queens, visit friends there, load up, and head back in a few days.

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I made this last night for dinner, or at least, a vegetarian version. I liked it better cold for breakfast.

This is actually a dish that’s great for vegetarian substitutions. The only meat that’s sort of necessary is the Bonito Flake but even that’s just a topping that I don’t see used everywhere, and its fish so for a lot of my vegetarian friends who take things a bit looser it goes just fine. Many of the best ones I’ve had don’t involve pork or another meat at all, even without being specifically vegetarian. Just cabbage, scallion, sometimes mushroom will get you a nice, basic, traditional version. And if you can think to add it some street cart in Japan has probably been putting it in okonomiyaki for decades if not longer. Its basically drunken street food from Osaka. With all the great weirdness that the Japanese seem to bring to that sort of food.

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