Napa Cabbage

As the weather gets colder, I find myself with a hole in my belly that can only be filled by some kind of indefinable, completely yummy food. For me this mysterious ultimate craving usually falls into the savory category, and I do know that it should be hot, and have a soft, yielding texture.

I’ve had this huge napa cabbage sitting in my fridge since the previous box, and so I decided to see what my beloved Asian Vegetables cookbook had to offer. In the section for napa cabbage I found a recipe for okonomiyaki, which are Japanese savory pancakes. The recipe might as well have been subtitled “The answer to your winter food longings.”

I sliced up some of that napa cabbage along with a red onion I’d bought (because who can resist that color combo of pale green and lavender?). I mixed a few of my eggs with some broth and flour and tamari, stirred in the veggies, poured it all in a hot oiled pan, and scattered bits of my beloved tempeh bacon on top.

Okonomiyaki, uncooked

Then I cooked it, quartered and flipped it, let it cook through, and sprinkled it with toasted nori and sesame seeds.

Hot, savory, yielding. Stuffed with sweet, soft napa cabbage and red onions. Full of flavor from the seaweed and sesame. And I haven’t even mentioned the crazy dipping sauce made with ketchup, sake, and dried mustard!

Okonomiyaki, cooked

(The recipe for okonomiyaki is beyond the “more”)

Okonomiyaki (from Sara Deseran’s marvelous Asian Vegetables)
Okonomiyaki are Japanese “as you like it” pancakes, which means this recipe is really a great jumping-off point for creativity and whim – what else from your box can you chop up and mix in?

Dipping Sauce:
1/4 C. ketchup
1 T. plus 2 t. Worcestershire sauce (beware: the standard version of this sauce is NOT vegetarian! I just leave it out)
1/4 t. dry mustard
2 T. sake
1 t. tamari or soy sauce, or to taste if you have omitted the Worc. sauce

3 eggs
2/3 C. broth or water
1/3 C. all-purpose flour (GF flour mix works fine here)
2 t. tamari or soy sauce
1/4 t. kosher salt
1 1/2 C. finely chopped napa cabbage
1/2 C. chopped red onion
1 serrano chili, finely chopped (sometimes I use fresh, sometimes the dried ones that come in my box)
2 T. canola oil
3/4 C. diced tempeh bacon (or diced cooked chicken/shrimp/pork for non-vegetarians)

Toasted nori seaweed, crumbled (optional)
Toasted white or black sesame seeds, crumbled (optional)

To make the dipping sauce, combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.

To make the pancakes, whisk the eggs in a bowl until blended. Whisk in the broth/water, then gradually whisk in the flour. Add the tamari and salt and stir in the cabbage, onion, and chili.

Over medium-low heat, heat a large cast-iron skillet or heavy nonstick skillet. Brush on the oil or pour it in and tilt to coat the bottom of the pan evenly. Pour in the egg mixture and immediately sprinkle your “meat” evenly on top. Smooth the surface with a spatula. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the underside is nicely browned. Use the spatula to cut the pancake into equal wedges, and carefully turn each section (having 2 spatulas helps). Cook for about 5 minutes more, or until browned on the second side.

Serve each pancake wedge sprinkled with nori and sesame seeds, if desired. Serve at once with the dipping sauce.

3 comments on “Napa Cabbage

  1. kyoko says:

    omg okonomiyaki is totally one of my favorites here! we’ve got okonomiyaki restaurants where you can chose what kind you want out of a huge range of ingredients, you cook it yourself on a beni-hana-esque grill, and then chow down using teeny little bite-size-producing spatulas! i LOVE it and would eat it all the time if i could. i wish you could try some…

  2. Chooch says:

    I was thinking how I should cook a huge napa – “hakusai” or “nappa” in Japanese, but I got a great idea from your recipe.

    Normally we cook okonomi-yaki with cabbages not napa, but this recipe gives me various hints to cook napa instead of cabbage, like coleslaw etc.


  3. scrumptious says:

    Hi Chooch, I’m glad you found inspiration here! I love okonomi-yaki with napa because it’s so sweet and tender, totally different from robust cabbage. Napa is great in all dishes that call for cabbage, in my opinion. Especially things that use it raw, like coleslaw!

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