I have to admit that I have had to learn to like vegetables. So any time I find a recipe that makes vegetables look tasty I jump right in. These definitely need the sauce, but the combination is yummy. They are reminiscent of latkes, but a wee bit healthier. I made the smaller pancakes. The large ones seemed a bit too intimidating. Plus, I always figure the first few end up being a bit of a failure due to my learning curve anyway.
Japanese Vegetable Pancackes from The Smitten Kitchen
Yield: 12-14 small pancakes
1/2 small head cabbage, very thinly sliced (1 pound or 5 to 6 cups shreds)
4 medium carrots, peeled into ribbons with a vegetable peeler
5 kale leaves, ribs removed, leaves cut into thin ribbons
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
Canola, safflower or peanut oil for frying
1/4 cup ketchup
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon rice cooking wine or sake
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey (use 2 if you like a sweeter sauce)
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
Make the pancakes:
Toss cabbage, carrot, kale, scallions and salt together in a large bowl. Toss mixture with flour so it coats all of the vegetables. Stir in the eggs. Heat a large heavy skillet on medium-high heat. Coat the bottom with oil and heat that too.
To make a large pancake, add 1/4 of the vegetable mixture to the skillet, pressing it out into a 1/2- to 3/4-inch pancake. Gently press the pancake down flat. Cook until the edges begin to brown, about 3 minutes. 30 seconds to 1 minute later, flip the pancake with a large spatula. Cook on the other side until the edges brown, and then again up to a minute more (you can peek to make sure the color is right underneath).
To make small pancakes, you can use tongs but I seriously find using my fingers and grabbing little piles, letting a little batter drip back into the bowl, and depositing them in piles on the skillet easier, to form 3 to 4 pancakes. Press down gently with a spatula to flatten slightly, but no need to spread them much. Cook for 3 minutes, or until the edges brown. Flip the pancakes and cook them again until brown underneath.
Regardless of pancake size, you can keep them warm on a tray in the oven at 200 to 250 degrees until needed.
If desired, make okonomiyaki sauce: Combine all sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and let simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, until smooth and thick.
Serve pancakes with sauce and any of the other fixings listed above, from Japanese mayo to scallions and toasted sesame seeds.
Extra pancakes will keep in the fridge for a couple days, or can be spread on a tray in the freezer until frozen, then combined in a freezer bag to be stored until needed. Reheat on a baking sheet in a hot oven until crisp again.