Okonomiyaki with garlic scapes

June 30, 2011 § 8 Comments

Not that long ago, I would have only understood 50% of the words in that title.  (In case you’re wondering, yes they would have been ‘with’ and ‘garlic’.)  But, you know how it goes, we grow, we change, we join vegetable CSAs and then we discover the wonder of garlic scapes.

Garlic scapes are the shoot and bud of the garlic plant (the regular garlic that we eat is  the bulb), and they look basically just like that, lovely curling shaded green stems ending in a graceful teardrop shape.

Except, unlike your average stem, garlic scapes grow in a roller coaster of a loop, making them eminently wearable as jangly bracelets, if, you know, you’re trying to make a fashion statement.

Of course, if you’re trying to figure out, “what the f$*% do I do with garlic scapes,” wearing them may not be the edible solution you’re looking for.  In that case, I’d like to answer your question by asking another question (“how many abodiginals do you see modeling?”…joke): what can’t you do with garlic scapes?!

They are, in fact, quite versatile little plants.  They have about the texture of asparagus stems, and their flavor is aromatic and garlicky, milder than garlic cloves but still giving you a little aggressive nip when they’re raw.  When cooked, they become soft and docile, with just a gentle spice and a pleasantly stemmy flavor.

If you sautee them, they’re delicious by themselves or sprinkled on very nearly anything (like, maybe not ice cream, but they are good on meats, fishes, pastas, salads…).  You can blend them into soup, dip, or pesto, or cook them into quiches or risottos.

When they’re in season, I sometimes slice them thinly and use them in place of scallions, which brings me to these okonomiyaki.

Okonomiyaki (which, between you and me, I always have a terrible time trying to spell) is sometimes referred to as “Japanese pizza” but would be more accurately described as a Japanese savory pancake.  About half a year ago, a friend of mine who teaches in New York sent me her recipe for them, saying they were one of her favorite things to do with leftovers.

Okonomiyaki often have cabbage and scallions, and sometimes shrimp or pork, but my friend will also throw in leftover noodles, other cooked vegetables, pretty much anything she feels like.  Which is quite apropos because the literal translation for okonomiyaki is “whatever you like cooked,” meaning, you’re supposed to put whatever you dang well please into the batter.

I had been meaning to make these ever since she sent me the suggestion, but I’m sorry to say that it took until another friend of mine won a food52 contest for street food with her recipe for them that I finally got my act together.

I decided to use my cache of garlic scapes in place of scallions, and added some thinly sliced cabbage and a scattering of sesame seeds as well.  We didn’t have any leftovers to add (shocking!), so I kept them simple – pure, I like to think.  They’re so easy to prepare that I was able to make them on a weekday morning for a speedy breakfast, and we still had plenty of time for showering, getting dressed, and the rest of the morning routine.

I’m a fan of savory, spicy eggy dishes in the morning and these suited me to a T!  The sweet-hot dipping sauce has just enough of a burn to really wake you up.  But, if you’re more of a yogurt and granola person, go ahead and make them for a snack or a light dinner instead.

Oh, and lest I forget, I have some fun news!  A new website, gojee.com, is launching today.  Their goal is to bring together a curated collection of excellent recipes from passionate blogging home cooks and allow you to search it based on what you’re craving or what you have in your cupboards.

I’m thrilled and honored to be one of their recipe contributors, in the company of a whole line up of bloggers I really admire (the whole list is long enough that I’m not going to include it here, but just believe me when I say it’s awesome!).  So check it out, see how you like it, let them know what you think!  I’m sure they’d be pumped to hear your suggestions.

And without further ado, the okonomiyaki…

Okonomiyaki with garlic scapes and cabbage (makes about 10 2-inch pancakes)

  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1 Tbs. sriracha (hot chile sauce)
  • 1 Tbs. ketchup
  • 2 cups very thinly sliced green cabbage
  • 4 thinly sliced garlic scapes (or 1 bunch of scallions, thinly sliced)
  • a pinch of salt
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 Tbs. toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • Olive oil, butter, or peanut oil for frying
  • 1/2 lime
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayo, sriracha, and ketchup.  Taste and adjust the amounts of everything until you like it.  This is what my friend calls “the funky pink sauce,” and she advises that you just don’t think about what is in it.  I support that advice
  2. Heat a Tablespoon of oil or butter in a large frying pan, stir in the cabbage and scapes (or scallions) and saute with a big pinch of salt for a couple minutes, until the vegetables just start to soften.  Then, remove from the heat.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, soy sauce, sesame oil, and sesame seeds.  Then, whisk in the flour until smooth.  Stir in the cooked vegetables.
  4. Using the same big frying pan (I didn’t even wipe it out), heat more butter or oil over medium-high heat.  Drop large spoonfuls of the batter into the pan and squash them flat as they cook (they should sizzle when they hit the pan, otherwise the pan isn’t hot enough).  Cook for a couple of minutes, until brown, then flip and cook until the second side is brown (just another minute).
  5. Transfer cooked pancakes to a plate.  Repeat until all of the batter is cooked.
  6. Squeeze the half lime all over the okonomiyaki.  Serve them accompanied by the pink sauce for dipping or spreading.  And, if desired, sprinkle them with chopped peanuts, cilantro, sesame seeds, or bonito flakes to garnish.

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