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Two dishes that may not be as well known yet, are okonomiyaki, and yakisoba. Let's face it, they aren't the friendliest Japanese words to spell or pronounce either. But they are so entrenched in Japan's culture that several regional versions exist, and it is the type of food that can bring about unlimited creative ways to make it. And with the popularity of table top cooking among Japanese families, these dishes are ideal party foods to gather around the electric griddle at home.
Okonomiyaki has been fondly called a Japanese pizza, while yakisoba can best be described as a Japanese chow mein. We have 2 versions of okonomiyaki this month, from different areas of the country. Try them both and let us know which one you prefer. Our yakisoba is made in the classic style, but feel free to add whatever ingredients you want to this dish. Even hot dogs, edamame, or bean sprouts are not out of the question!
The Kansai, or south central part of Japan's main island of Honshu, is the country's historical and cultural center. Their okonomiyaki is characterized by mixing the ingredients into the batter before cooking it. Having originated in Osaka, the largest city in this region, the Osaka-okonomiyaki is the dominant version of this dish, found throughout most of Japan.
See this recipe:
The distinguishing feature of Hiroshima-okonomiyaki is that it is built in layers as it fries, rather than mixed as a batter. Typically the layers are batter, cabbage, pork and other optional ingredients like octopus or cheese--the order is strictly by preference. All this is topped with noodles and a fried egg. Our version is slightly different, but very delicious!
See this recipe:
Although yakisoba is derived from Chinese chow mein, the dish very definitely has its own Japanese identity. Made with fried ramen style noodles, the ingredients in yakisoba are a balance of vegetables and small bits of pork meat, flavored with a tangy/sweet sauce. In Japan, yakisoba is so popular you can buy yakisoba sandwiches at any local convenience store.
See this recipe:
Like pizza, toppings play an important role in the kind of okonomiyaki or yakisoba that you're cooking.
Sauce: Probably the single most important ingredient in okonomiyaki and yakisoba. The sauce is basically the same one used on tonkatsu, or pork cutlet, and made with a mixture of Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and tomato or oyster sauce. There are dozens of variations which greatly affect the outcome, so try them all and see which you like best!
Aonori: A type of dried green seaweed known as green laver, Aonori's appealing aroma and flavor can give a dish an added seaweed boost. On both okonomiyaki and yakisoba, the aonori is a perfect match with the sauce.
Katsuobushi: Dried bonito flakes, as you may already know, are full of umami and used extensively in soup stocks. On okonomiyaki the paper thin flakes start to flutter and "dance" from the heat, adding a fun element to an already fun dish.
Mayonnaise: A relative late-comer to okonomiyaki, mayo has become a very popular ingredient that seems to add another dimension to the sauce.
Karashi (mustard): Not the American hot dog kind, but the Japanese very spicy one that you can find in tubes or in powder form. Use sparingly for extra zing!
Beni Shoga: Pickled red ginger usually found cut into slivers and sold in bottles. A unique, sour flavor that accents many popular dishes and used also for its bright red color aesthetics.
Agedama (tenkasu): An interesting ingredient, tenkasu means "tempura throwaways" because it literally started as the leftover bits of deep fried batter you get after frying tempura. Also known as agedama, or deep fried balls, the crunchy bits are popular for adding texture.
Cabbage: You cannot have okonomiyaki or yakisoba without cabbage. Zojirushi recommends sweet and tender spring cabbage for best results. And find a cutting method you like, because palatability changes with the shape of the cabbage.
Aonegi (green onion): A variation of okonomiyaki popular in Japan is negiyaki, where green onion is used in place of cabbage.
Noodles: Kansai-style okonomiyaki may use udon noodles, while Hiroshima-style typically uses the ramen style noodles--the same type in yakisoba.
Cheese: As close to a real Japanese pizza as you can get, cheese mixed into the okonomiyaki batter has become a very popular variation.
We think you get the picture by now--okonomiyaki, and to some extent yakisoba too, are meant to be fun foods to grill and fun to eat. Put anything you want in your personal style; nothing is off limits as long as you enjoy the experience!
See the Gourmet Sizzler® Electric Griddle:
This electric griddle has an extra large cooking surface, making it a valuable party accessory. How's that, you say? Tabletop Cooking is more fun when everyone joins in the cooking. What better way than our large communal griddle, safe and easy to use, and nonstick for quick cleanup, too.

Tabletop Cooking is a term we use to describe cooking at the dining table rather than on the stove. It is interactive and everyone gets to join in on the cooking process. In addition to the this month's recipes, try your own versions of tabletop cooking. The best part of this type of cooking is that you can enjoy it with family and friends.
Watch the “TABLETOP COOKING” video:
Teppanyaki   Nabemono   BBQ (Barbecue)
Our Food Jars are the perfect picnic companion when it comes to taking your lunches to the great outdoors. Pack a hot side dish or a cold dessert--it'll keep for hours and you can take it anywhere without spilling. This month try our flavorful rice porridge that is cooked right in the food jar or fresh fruit cocktail, and liven up your next picnic, campout, or just lunch at work!!
Wide opening for easy scooping and cleaning. Tight-fitted lid with gasket seals lid. SickSteel® Finish interior resists corrosion and repels stain.
See all Stainless Steel Food Jars:
Our next Mother's Day issue will feature some scrumptious recipes for high tea and cake with your favorite Mom!

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