A well-worn Japanese proverb has it that Tokyoites spend all their money on footwear, Kyotoites on kimonos and formal attire. But Osakans save their funds for food and drink. There’s a word for this Osakan propensity, kuidaore: to eat until you drop.
– Matt Goulding, Rice Noodle Fish – Deep Travels Through Japan’s Food Culture
It was Matt Goulding’s description of Osaka’s street food that made me pick the city as one of the three places to visit on my recent Japan trip. As I stepped inside a tiny sake bar on my first and only night in Osaka Namba, I knew that everything he mentioned was true to the last detail. The cheerful hellos, kanpai (cheers) with every drink ordered, sharing food with strangers and being offered to be accompanied to a crab place close-by, I experienced everything as it was straight out of Goulding’s book. And then there was Dotonbori, the thin stream of river teaming with restaurants and street-food stalls on both the sides – fried meat on stick, barbeques, yakisoba and Osaka’s own takoyaki and okonomiyaki. Takoyaki – the fried balls of gooey dough with a chewy nugget of octopus in the centre was a peculiar dish, but it was okonomiyaki that kept me hooked – the thick Japanese pancake studded with pork, with a generous drizzle of barbeque sauce and mayonnaise, and feathery bonito chips fluttering on top; few refills of Sapporo was all I needed to complete my meal.
Back home, I decided to recreate the recipe using the miso paste I bought back with me and adding prawns instead of pork. While the original recipe uses maida or all purpose flour, I decided to go with jowar because healthy and all. Skip prawns if you want to keep it vegetarian and add grated carrots to it if you wish. If you have a sizzler plate at home, use it to serve. It tastes best when it’s hot.
Cabbage – 1 small, thinly sliced
Spring Onion – 1 sprig, finely chopped
Prawns – 200 gms, cleaned and de-veined
Miso paste – 1 tbsp
Egg – 1, beaten
Jowar flour – 100 gms
Salt to taste
OIl for frying
1. Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan. Throw in miso paste and prawns and stir till the prawns are done.
2. Mix cabbage, spring onion, prawns and egg in a bowl.
3. Sprinkle flour on top and mix everything together so that the batter clumps together.
4. Season with salt.
5. Heat oil in a pan (you can use a non-stick or even the dosa pan), pour in a thick clump of batter and flatten it a bit. Make sure that the pancakes are thick. Cook them on both the sides for at least 10 minutes each since jowar takes slightly longer to cook.
6. Drizzle barbeque sauce and mayonnaise generously and serve.