It’s hard not to have a preconceived notion of how something is going to be before you experience it. Whether it be a new job, a new place, or a new food, if we know we are going to be doing something new and have time to think about it, we inevitably get an image in our head of what that thing will be like.
When I went to Japan in 2009, one of the things I was expecting was LOTS of sushi. Everywhere. Sushi bars, sushi trains, sushi restaurants. Sushi snacks in supermarkets and other convenience stores. Little carts on the sides of the road selling sushi. I was even half expecting sushi vending machines! It didn’t quite pan out like that however, and what I noticed was that while there were a lot of options for eating sushi, the sushi that was available was very fresh – often freshly made – with the smaller bite-sized sushi being more popular – a stark contrast with the premade handrolls which are popular in Australia.
There were a lot of other food options though other than the sushi – ramen, teppenyaki, gyoza and of my favorite food of the holiday, okonmiyake. I actually first tried okonmiyake – which is a Japanese take on a savoury vegetable pancake – at the Spitalfields market when I was living in London. It was delicious, and I was very excited to see that it was abundant in Japan.
Unfortunately, I have not been able to find anything similar in Australia (if you know of anywhere that does amazing okonmiyake here, please let me know!) so I set about to make it at home. Authentic Japanese okonomiyake – which is what I was aiming to make, is made up of a lot of components that aren’t necessarily easy to find in Australia.
In the end, I decide to make a very untraditional savoury pancake (I’m not calling it okonomiyake as it’s really nothing like the traditional version) and ended up with something that was quite impressive in its simplicity – lovely fresh, clean flavours, loads of veggies and delicious pesto on top, these pancakes come together really quickly to make a delicious and healthy breakfast, lunch or dinner.
- Vegetable Pancake
- 3 cups of thinly grated veggies (sweet potato, pumpkin, zucchini, capsicum, carrot)
- 3 Tbsp almond meal
- 1 Tbsp psyllium husks
- 1 egg
- 6 fresh basil leaves, shredded,
- 1 tsp paprika
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Creamy Coconut Coriander Pesto
- 1 bunch coriander, stems removed
- 1 small garlic clove, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup cashews
- ½ avocado
- 1 Tbsp coconut cream
- 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 190 C | 375 F
- Heat a non-stick, ovenproof frypan or pot over medium heat.
- Grate the vegetables (I use the thinest grating disc on my food processor, though you could do it also by hand) and add to a mixing bowl with the almond meal and psyllium husks.
- Stir to coat and then add the egg, basil leaves, paprika and salt and pepper.
- Press into the pan and allow to sit a minute or two for the egg to start setting, then move to the oven.
- Bake 25-30 minutes, until cooked and golden brown.
- To make the coriander pesto, and the coriander, garlic and cashews to a food processor and blend a few seconds until finely ground.
- Wipe down the sides of the bowl, then add the remaining ingredients and pulse to combine.
- Serve the pancake with a generous dollop of pesto on top.