There are certain places that you are always willing to go back, then, they become part of a group of memories that you just wish to live again. We would even consider moving there for good or for at least a couple of years. I have travelled enough to select a couple of places where I could just move tomorrow, or even to have them as my "second residence" Many of you may know by now about my love for Mexico, and the idea of living there is with me ever since I came back (in this life or maybe in the next one) and someting similar hapened to me with Japan. Such a different country, I would never hesitate to move over there, the people, the culture, the scenery, the temples, the way they treat the elderly people (almost worship) the transports (I love you, bullet train) but above all, and of course, the food...
I can honestly say that, since we arrived we were treated wonderfully well, I was lucky enough to feel gastronomically spoiled by trying (devouring) the incredibly, tasty and tender Kobe beef cooked in a wonderful dish called Sukiyaki on the night of our arrival. Of course it melts in your mouth, after being spoiled and very well looked after by their carers, with massages and taking sake showers! On top of that, they make them drink beer to stimulate their apetite.
So, walking around Osaka, we had a lovely guide Noriko who took us to a very special restaurant. The tables had a grill in the middle and she told us that we were going to try something "special" and very very popular. OKONOMIYAKI something like the japanese pizza. Ok, so, you sit on the table, you choose the ingredients you want and you cook it yourelf at your table. That was a good plan and the result? Well, nothing like a pizza, more like a pancake, with a bunch of different flavours, dried seaweed, katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) and the special okonomiyaki sauce (you can find all these ingredients in your local oriental supermarket) and on top of all that, mayonaise! I use Kewpie (japanese) but any other will do. The flour is a special one, it has tiny dried shrimps and seafood flavour but you can use self raising flour. There are hundreds of Okonomiyaki recipes, one in each region. It's part of a family meal and in fact, OKONOMIYAKI is japanese for "what you want" or "what you like". The Hiroshima version is made with chinese noodles! I used squid and prawns in this version, befcause is my favorite and I always follow Noriko's recipe, but you can use whatever you have at home, pork, chicken, beef, vegetables or seafood...easy as pie!
I want to be a Kobe beef i my next life...
For the batter
250 g okonomiyaki or self raising flour
2 small eggs
125 ml water
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium squid, diced
6 peeled and raw prawns
4 cabbage leaves finely sliced
2 spring onions finely sliced or chives
For the topping
Dried seaweed (ao nori)
Pickled ginger (beni shoga)
Dried bonito flakes (katsuobushi)
Mix the ingredients of the dough in a bowl, until it has the consistency of double cream, you can add more water of flour, depending of what it needs. Add the filling ingredients and mix well. Heat a no stick frying pan and add the oil, then the mix when the oil is very hot, and lower the heat to medium. When the pancake starts bubbling and setting turn it over and cook for a further 3 or 4 minutes, depending of how thick is your pancake. Place it on the serving dish and drizle with mayonaise, the okonomiyaki sauce, then the seaweed and the ginger and finally the dried bonito flakes. Serve hot.