I finally did it: I made okonomiyaki (お好み焼き), a popular pancake-like dish in Japan that contains a variety of ingredients. My favorite kind is mochi and cheese okonomiyaki so that’s what I made. After eight hours of labor and failures – literally starting from 3 pm and ending around 11 – I got it right! Please note that it really doesn’t take that long, I just messed up a lot 😛 In retrospect, I really felt like I embarked on a journey albeit only going across the street to the grocery store to get ingredients, then coming back to cook.
1. As an amateur cook (attempting to graduate to just being a cook, or cooky?! Lol), navigating the grocery store can already be a daunting task, but when you can’t even read the items in that store (most things are written in kanji or Chinese characters), then it’s simply just daunting! Of course, I don’t need to be able to read cabbage – I know what it looks like – but the sauces and powders and those things that look like other things – well, holy crap, here we go! After conditioning myself to employ patience, I busted out my translator app and got to it. After nearly three hours (hence the conditioning helped!) of guessing and analyzing and translating, I got all the required ingredients. Now I could’ve just asked someone where everything was – probably would’ve cut the time in half – but I really wanted to learn it myself, kind of like a personal challenge. I rendered this experience as cooking bootcamp 101! Plus I was learning Japanese in the process!
2. There’s so much cutting involved, and again, as an amateur cook, cutting can also be daunting because 1. You’re trying not to cut your hand 2. At the same time, you want to hurry, but you can’t…you must cut with precision to learn how to cut the right way. In time, the speed comes (or I believe anyway). So, I cut cut cut. It felt like forever (my least favorite task in the cooking process). Finally, I finished so it was time to mix up the ingredients. After mixing everything in, I knew something was wrong: it was way too watery. Even though I consider myself an amateur cook, I have experience under my belt and good ol’ intution (and according to my mom, good cookin’ is in our blood, which I believe I guess because the few times I’ve tried my hand at cooking, it’s turned out pretty good! So I just need more practice!) SO I essentially had to start over. I looked at the Pinterest instructions and I immediately recognized the pinner’s mistake: the addition of way too much water. Note: Pinterest stuff is NOT always right! So I had to buy some ingredients again. I ran across the street to get them and ran back, up five flight of stairs (of course I live at the very top floor!).
3. I cut up everything again. In the middle of it, I’d noticed my impatience surfacing that translated into faster cutting, which translated into danger zone, so I reminded myself to be patient. I slowed down and sang along to Usher as I cut up my veggies and cheese and mochi. It helped. This time, my intuition told me not to add the water since the eggs and broth were already liquidy. I mixed in all the ingredients and was pleased that it turned out as it should: doughy-like, substantial, like pancake batter. So, it was time to put in the pan. After only a few minutes, I burned it! The bottom was completely charred! Thank goodness I had more batter so I didn’t have to start from scratch.
4. I threw out the burned batter and put in a new set. This time, I moved it around and flipped it several times (like stir frying), which is unconventional because usually, you just leave it there – like grilling – and then flip once to cook the other side. But you know what? My unconventional method worked just as well because voila:
It turned out great! And it tasted just how I imagined: mochi and cheese heaven!!!!!! I felt like Jack in Titanic: I’m the king of the world!!!!! Lol. When I sat down to eat, I felt the soreness of my feet from all that standing in my kitchen, the same feeling I get when I’d been walking all over Okayama all day.
PS: I think part of my internal fire that really lit my motivation was the fact that there are no okonomiyaki restaurants in the Bay Area, from my knowledge anyway. I’ve looked. Well, look no further Mon, you can make it yourself! Surely, the next time won’t take a whole work day shift. Here’s to more cooking adventures to come! Next goal: sushi / nigiri (すし / にぎり)
All that cutting!!!