A Taste of Something New
By: Kyla Habrock
Okonomiyaki is a Japanese dish that I had never heard of before. However, thanks to an invitation from Pam Wright, Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher at Elkhorn South High School, I am now familiar with and really love this tasty and simple cultural dish.
According to Wikipedia, okonomiyaki is a Japanese savory pancake containing a variety of ingredients. The name is derived from the word okonomi, meaning “what you like” or “what you want”, and yaki meaning “grilled” or “cooked”. Okonomiyaki is mainly associated with the Kansai or Hiroshima areas of Japan, but is widely available throughout the country. Toppings and batters tend to vary according to region.
Yumi, a Japanese exchange student demonstrated how she has been preparing okonomiyaki for her family since she was seven years old, and visited with her peers about Japan during the Foods I classes. Pam says, “I always ask my foreign exchange students to demonstrate and cook an ethnic food for all of my foods classes. The recipe for okonomiyaki calls for pork, and we usually aren’t able to include pork, other than sausage, in the Foods I classes.”
I joined all five periods of the Foods I classes in the kitchen during their lab day and talked directly with students about the nutritional aspects of pork as well as unique ways to include pork in different meals. This provided an opportunity for conversation to happen organically, based on what students were experiencing during their lab.
There was an interesting happening, where one might say we were lost in translation. The original recipe listed “3 1/2 ounces of thin pork.” Pam understood that to be pork loin, thinly sliced. However, after Yumi demonstrated making this recipe, she explained that where she lives they don’t have “that kind of pork chop”, instead they use bacon. This was interesting for me for many reasons. Primarily, knowing that Japan is the second largest export market for pigs raised in the United States, it was fascinating to meet someone who appreciates different cuts of meat from the pig. This also provided great discussion for the students to compare and contrast the use of pork loin or bacon in this recipe and other recipes too. Most students were interested in trying the recipe again using bacon.
This is the recipe we used during class, but remember, okonomiyaki can include many different ingredients:
1 cup flour
1 cup water
5 ounces cabbaged, finely chopped
1 green onion, finely chopped
1 ounce cheese, shredded
3 1/2 ounces bacon
1 tablespoon oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons BBQ sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
Heat griddle or skillet over medium heat
Finely chop or shred cabbage and green onion
Mix flour and water, egg, cabbage, green onion, and cheese – do not over mix
Pour oil into griddle or skillet, then pour some of the picture into the sizzling griddle or skillet
Cook for 1 minute, then add bacon
Cook another 3-4 minutes on the first side, then flip
Cook on the second side for 4-5 minutes until the okonomiyaki is well done
Serve with sauce if desired
Approximately 80 students participated in the cultural cooking lab using pork at Elkhorn South High School. These girls pose with their okonomiyaki as it finishes cooking on the griddle.
Dig in! Most students agreed the best part of participating in Foods I classes is making different foods – everything from breads, cookies, eggs, and more – and eating those different foods. Many recipes are so well liked that students make the recipes at home for extra credit!
The nutrition label was created using the Calorie Count Recipe Calculator. Remember, this recipe yields enough to make two large pancakes.