Japanese Vegetable Pancakes with Cabbage, Kale and Carrots

May 2013 416Preparing these Japanese Vegetable Pancakes (Okonomiyaki) for a recent dinner made me think of the main character, Hazel, in the novel I’m currently reading—The Fault In Our Stars by John Green, which is, by the way, excellent—and her passionate speech about the unfairness of eggs being relegated to just one meal of the day. As Hazel’s mother explains, “Hazel has developed an issue with the ghettoization of scrambled eggs.” Hazel defends her position: “It’s embarrassing that we all just walk through life blindly accepting that scrambled eggs are fundamentally associated with mornings.”

You have to admit, Hazel has a point.

I think she’d be happy to know that eggs play a central role in these tasty, savory pancakes that are good enough to eat anytime of the day.

Japanese Vegetable Pancakes (Okonomiyaki) with Cabbage, Kale and Carrots (barely adapted from Josher Walker of Xiao Bao Biscuit via Tasting Table, via Smitten Kitchen; makes 4 large pancakes)

1/2 small head cabbage, very thinly sliced (5 to 6 cups shreds)
4 medium carrots, peeled into ribbons with a vegetable peeler
5 lacinato kale leaves, ribs removed, leaves cut into thin ribbons
4 scallions, thinly sliced on an angle
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
Canola, safflower or peanut oil for frying

Tangy Sauce
1/3 cup ketchup
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon rice cooking wine or sake
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

Optional toppings
Japanese mayo, scallions or toasted sesame seeds.

Make the pancakes: Toss cabbage, carrot, kale, scallions and salt together in a large bowl. Toss mixture with flour so it coats the vegetables. Stir in the eggs. Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat and add oil.

Add 1/4 of the vegetable mixture to the skillet. Gently press the pancake down flat into a 1/2- to 3/4-inch pancake. Cook until the edges and bottom are slightly browned, about 3-4 minutes, then flip the pancake with a large spatula about cook 3-4 more minutes. If needed, you can keep the pancakes warm on a tray in the oven at 200 to 250 degrees.

Make tangy sauce: Combine all sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and let simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, until smooth and thick.

Serve pancakes with tangy sauce and any other toppings desired, such as Japanese mayo, scallions or toasted sesame seeds.

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