Congratulations okonomiyaki (and Caleb), I can no longer avoid the issue of how to deal with real recipe failures. I have a few draft posts started discussing either individual recipe disappointments or complete failure across all tested recipes. However, I’ve put off posting them for a number of reasons: I feel guilty saying someone else’s hard work in developing a recipe was a flop. I worry the failure is in the chef (me) and not the recipe. Also – who wants to read a post about something that was a flop?
Unfortunately, the okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancakes) from Clean Green Eats were a flop. I can say that because I made them last night and then tried a different recipe for okonomiyaki tonight to use as a comparison. The okonomiyaki from Clean Green Eats weren’t awful, or inedible, but I would be embarrassed to served them to anyone and I wound up throwing them away.
One problem with Candice Kumai’s okonomiyaki is the ratio of cabbage and scallion to batter. Compared to other okonomiyaki recipes, she uses about 1/8 the amount of cabbage, and 1/2 the amount of scallions. Strangely, she writes that the recipe is based on the okonomiyaki from the Hiroshima region, which are supposedly thicker, more substantial pancakes with more cabbage in them than the average okonomiyaki. Maybe there was an error in editing? She calls for 3/4 cup of chopped cabbage compared to the 8 cups packed, shredded cabbage other okonomiyaki recipes of equivalent scale require. Alternatively, one of the ways Hiroshima okonomiyaki stand apart from those of other regions is that they have layers. Candice’s recipe doesn’t specify any amount or weight for the “toppings” (which are really layers) she calls optional…Maybe if I had used a lot of cabbage and/or made more layers of the toppings, perhaps I would have liked these pancakes a lot more?The batter contains a whopping 3 tablespoons of (reduced-sodium) soy sauce for 6 servings, which is a huge amount of salt per pancake. That’s before adding the optional toppings like bacon or smoked fish. …there’s not nearly enough produce bulk in the recipe to balance that much sodium out, so I was left with uneven, lumpy cabbage pancakes that were overly salty and even more unappealing to look at than your average okonomiyaki. Mine turned out better once I used cooked egg as a layer, but they still weren’t worth remaking.If you’re in the market for making okonomiyaki, this standard version from Serious Eats was alright, but also imperfect – it took at least 10-15 more minutes of cooking with the heat on to be cooked through and it definitely needs at least one of the extras, like pickled ginger, to save it from being bland.I’ll have to keep experimenting – maybe by mixing the two techniques I can adapt this recipe and make some great Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki.