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
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 4 scallions 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 6 large eggs, lightly beaten Canola, safflower or peanut oil for frying
Tangy Sauce 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.
Do ahead: 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.