On Saturday, I met up with L for lunch at EN Japanese Brasserie. The restaurant is known for their freshly made, in-house tofu. We both ordered the Saikyo miso black cod lunch set, which came with the tofu, miso soup, watercress salad, pickles, and white rice. We also ordered two sides, the shoyu-braised pork belly and lotus root and the shoyu-braised Okara, or lees of soymilk. Don’t know what lees are? I didn’t either at the time, but according to wiki, “lees refers to deposits of dead yeast or residual yeast and other particles that precipitate…to the bottom of a vat of wine after fermentation and aging.” The lees dish was delicious! Crumbly soft, delicate grit.
The house tofu, made fresh hourly–I could definitely eat a vat of this stuff: so luscious.
Okonomiyaki is a classic Japanese dish, I’m told. It’s essentially a savory pancake — batter usually cooked with some combination of shredded vegetables, pork, and seafood, then traditionally topped with fish flakes, seaweed flakes, mayonnaise, and okonomiyaki sauce. I only had it once before this weekend, and that was the second night I arrived in Hong Kong. But I used to eat loads of scallion pancake grease bombs as a child and I am always game for Korean seafood pancakes (pajun? pajeon?). There’s also a thick, sesame-studded, more bread-like version of scallion pancakes that I really like eating at this Hunan place back home (perfect for sopping up pretty much anything). So even though I am not too familiar with oko, Asian savory pancakes tend to do well in my book.
This past weekend, one of the other ETAs decided to host an okonomiyaki-making party. People were free to bring their own stuff to put inside their pancakes, resulting in some very special pancakes indeed. Broccoli and peppers ranked high among the unconventional additions, though several people stuck with the basics, including myself.
We started out with okonomiyaki mix from the store to concoct some batter:
And then people pan-fried to their hearts’ content. Here are some shots of pancakes in-the-making:
I’m pretty sure this was mine: I went heavy on the scallions and pork, b/c those two always seem to complement each other well. Almost like the Asian equivalent of peanut butter & jelly.
Look at that thinness! Observe the char! Admire the generous portion of scallions! Sadly, though I attempted to crisp the exterior of the pancake, it remained unusually chewy. I’m pretty sure it was the type of batter mix I used (a Korean-style one), as pajun does have a chewier consistency than Chinese-style scallion pancakes. The scallion pancakes I know and love are crisp and flaky, and have a bit of a salty kick, so I unfortunately failed to replicate the experience, but twas all in the name of good fun.