One of the things we get along with our vegetables from the CSA is advice and recipes on how to prepare them. Every year, during greens season, a recipe that shows up on the back page of our newsletter is for Okonomiyaki, a Japanese-style fritter. We’ve not made it, not because we thought it would be bad, but because we really like having Greens Latkes (also based on our CSA recipes) as our go-to method for using up a lot of greens. Today, we figured we’d try scratchin’ out our first okonomiyaki. Oh, and if you’re wondering how to pronounce okonomiyaki, take a tip from us, and realize that it’s probably wrong.
The two recipes are pretty similar: a basic flour egg mixture with some sort of greens added. The difference is in the cooking method. With latkes, you fry up small patties in a significant amount of oil, but, for okonomiyaki, you make one large patty and fry it slowly in a small amount of oil. Either is a great way to use up a lot of greens in one whack.
The recipe we used didn’t come from our CSA; instead, it came from PBS | Food, but, truth be told, they’re very similar, and either would make pretty much the same dish. We chose the PBS one simply because we forgot to check the CSA website. Also, we cut the amount in half, to make it a manageable size for the two of us.
We don’t specify the type of greens here because you can use almost any green that isn’t too tough. If it has tough stems, remove those, but, otherwise, just chop or shred it and you’ll be good to go. Traditionally, this is made with cabbage — we think probably napa cabbage, just because it’s nice and tender. We used radish greens for ours. Now, you might not know that radish greens are perfectly edible. They aren’t great eating, but they aren’t bad either. We might have preferred another green, but, we also know that it’s a difficult job to grow food (we’ve been out to the Phoenix fields in June, whew), and we’re very grateful, so we try very hard to use all that we receive, which includes the radish greens.
Procedure in detail:
Make batter. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg and water. If you want to get fancy, you can use a flavored stock, which will make your dish taste better. It’s all up to you. Add the salt and flour and whisk until smooth, somewhat like a crêpe batter. Here’s where we changed ours a bit: we used some freshly ground Sonora wheat flour, for a bit of extra flavor, but all-purpose flour is fine, too. Finally, add the greens and stir to coat. Depending on the amount of greens, it might take a minute of stirring to coat everything.
Heat oil. Heat oil in a large, non-stick, skillet over medium heat, swirling to ensure the surface is nicely coated.
Fry, covered. Add greens batter and press down into a uniform layer. Turn the heat down to medium-low, cover, and fry for 10 minutes. Use a spatula to lift up the edge and see if the bottom is nice and crispy. If so, you’re ready to flip. If not, let it fry another 5 minutes. We find the secret is not to disturb the batter while it cooks.
Flip. It’s tricky to flip what amounts to a large pancake, but here’s how we did it. We made sure the pancake — we’ll call it a pancake because it’s easier for us to spell — wasn’t sticking to the pan by sliding a spatula underneath it and loosening any stuck spots. Next, place a large plate over the pan, and flip over the whole she-bang, plate, pan, and pancake. Now, simply slide the pancake off the plate and back into the pan. Naturally, wear oven mitts while performing this maneuver.
Fry, uncovered. Fry the other side for about the same length of time, so it gets crispy, too. This time, though, fry it uncovered so the steam and moisture can escape.
Serve. Slice into wedges and serve with soy sauce or any favorite dipping sauce.
We’ll be honest, we prefer the greens latkes. They’re more trouble — this is really easy — but we think that they taste better. It has nothing to do with the radish greens, as we use often use our radish greens for latkes. It probably has a lot more to do with the amount of frying and oil that they absorb. Still, the okonomiyaki isn’t too bad, so you might want to consider it as a new way to try those abundant greens. Four stars.