Photo: grape Japan

Learn how to master cabbage chopping (and make perfect okonomiyaki)

By Connie Sceaphierde, grape Japan

With the shutters of many restaurants still closed, families across the nation have had to turn to cooking at home to get their daily dose of calories. And with more people finally turning on that gas stove that they haven’t touched since moving in, the ugly truth that not everyone is a Michelin star chef has come out.

Japan has become known as a foodie heaven and has been attracting food connoisseurs for centuries. When most of us speak to our fellow countrymen (who have never experienced the call of the travel bug) about the amazing range of dishes that are available in Japan, they’re unfortunately only acquainted with two dishes; ramen and sushi, and whilst both of those plates (or bowls) are enough to make the mouth water, there is so much more to discover.

Osaka has been known for a long time as Japan’s own kitchen, providing the country with a plethora of flavorsome and heavenly street foods which have since seen numerous recipe imitations appear in different regions.

Perhaps the Japanese kitchen’s most famous dish of all is okonomiyaki, a tasty savory pancake adorning whatever toppings you like – as the name translates to “Whatever you like”.

The dish is fairly simple to make and only requires flour, water, eggs, and shredded cabbage to make the basic pancake. But when most people have had the food prepared by a professional in the past, they suddenly realize they’re not sure if their culinary skills are up for the challenge of perfectly shredding the cabbage.

Although okonomiyaki is believed to have originated in Osaka, there are a ton of different versions of the dish across the country, like this one which is known as Hiroshima style okonomiyaki or Hiroshimayaki. Photo: wongwt | CC by SA 2.0

So how does one correctly chop cabbage for making okonomiyaki? We suppose you could go all out and just mutilate the vegetable on your chopping board (this is my own preferred method), but why do that when the Otafuku Sauce company has provided a video on how to prepare the cabbage like a professional teppanyaki chef.

Otafuku Sauce is the company behind the famous topping condiment that goes on top of every okonomiyaki and gives it its rich, full flavor. You may think "What does a sauce company know about making pancakes?", but to be masters of the sauce, they also have to be masters of the food. With their mastery, the company knows all about the secrets to the perfect okonomiyaki – something which they attribute to the way the cabbage is prepared – and they have put together an online video lesson which explains everything that you need to know to make the perfect okonomiyaki, starting with a simple easy-to-understand explanation on how to chop the cabbage.

Following the instructions in the video we attempted to chop the perfect cabbage for our ultimate stay-at-home okonomiyaki.

First, cut the cabbage to quarter size (if you buy a precut cabbage make sure it’s leaves are tightly packed) and remove the core – BUT don’t throw it away! The core is jam-packed with amazingly healthy nutrients and antioxidants that can be put to use to make soup stock or can be finely chopped to add more texture in dishes.

Next, place the cabbage with its inner side down on the chopping board, and so that the area where the core was is now facing away from your body the leaf opening is pointed towards you.

Line up the sharp end of the knife where the core was and begin chopping, turning it degree by degree as you slice so that it has an even cut from the core to the leaf edge.

Photo: grape Japan

Once the cabbage has been cut to about half-way it will become unstable, move the chopped pieces to one side and flatten the second half on the board to stabilize it before continuing to chop with the same degree-chopping method.

Chopping complete!

When the cabbage is cut using this method the length of the slices is roughly the same and the total area of the harder core end has been reduced. Each piece has a well-balanced texture of soft upper leaf and crunchy lower core, making for a perfect professionally made okonomiyaki.

If you have tried to make okonomiyaki before, but you’ve been unsure on how to perfectly slice the cabbage, go through the video step by step to master the art of cabbage chopping.

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© grape Japan

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It’s a cabbage for Christ’s sake

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

A good, fun video for a foodie like me, but I already knew how to do it. What I was hoping for was a unique recipe and video showing how to make the whole shebang. Oh, well, back to my Japanese cookbook.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Hiroshima-yaki beats Osaka-style okonomi-yaki, but if you are making the latter, the key ingredient is grated yam (nagaimo), which makes it soft and moist.

Given the amount of cabbage used, I tend to think of okonomiyaki as a "cabbage pancake". I think its ridiculous to call it "Japanese pizza".

(I slice my cabbage with a mandolin. I've been using the Bohner ones for 30 years).

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Vince, for once, I'm in 110% agreement with you.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Good grief. What next, how to boil water?

Okonomiyaki is always ruined by the mayonnaise. No mayonnaise! Add a bit of spinach with the cabbage, nice fresh taste.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

When making Okonomiyaki I prefer to shred the cabbage with a hand shredder.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

If you are trying to achieve this abroad, it also helps if you can get Japanese cabbage. There's a difference in taste.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

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