Just A Hint Of Mackerel

Grocery shopping in Japan is an adventure because most labels are entirely in Japanese. This isn’t so difficult when we are trying to buy things like apples or carrots, but it becomes more challenging for purchases like flour and vinegar. Sometimes, I just have to guess and hope for the best.

Brian attempted to make potsticker dough from my first flour-guess, and while they turned out well overall, the consistency and taste of the dough just didn’t seem quite right. So, I took the bag of flour to our hosts to translate, and learned that what I had purchased was actually a mix for Okonomiyaki, a Japanese savory pancake that we know and love.

While translating the ingredients for me, our host also noted that the mix contained mackerel. Right. This is Japan after all, and fish often pops up in places where we wouldn’t expect. (We’ve found this true for most of the Asian countries we’ve visited, excepting India, though none to this degree.) So, we’ve just been trying to stay mostly vegetarian while accepting that fishiness is going to end up in our food sometimes.

Anyway, of course we had to make Okonomiyaki!

Our awesome friends Jess and Steve first introduced us to Okonomiyaki, and Brian actually made it from scratch back when we lived in Providence, Rhode Island. This first venture required a trip to the Asian grocery store across town for ingredients, including a vegetable that, when grated, strongly resembled semen.

This time, even though we are in fact in Japan and probably could have acquired all of the ingredients easily, we went ahead and used the mix already in our cupboard. It was quick and easy this way – we added cabbage, scallions, eggs, and water to the mix, pan fried both sides, and then topped the finished pancake with Okonomiyaki sauce and mayonnaise.  I have the feeling that using the mix is kind of the equivalent of using Bisquick to make pancakes. Oh well. To our unrefined palates, it was tasty.