Pancakes drenched in syrup and butter are all well and good. But pancakes filled with savory cabbage and shrimp? Even better. These Japanese pancakes are a great change of pace. A light batter coasts the mixture, which is then layered with bacon and flipped for a crunchy, smoky base. The dish is served with an array of savory toppings—classics like Kewpie mayo, pickled ginger, and scallions, along with a slightly unorthodox sprinkle of sesame seeds.
I call for cooking the filling in either dashi or stock, but if you really want to dazzle your guests, then I'd recommend opting for the former. The delicate umami flavor of kelp- and bonito-infused dashi elevates the shrimp and cabbage while letting their natural flavors still come through. Most Asian groceries should have a powdered variety, which will do very well here in a pinch.
What else can I say? Move over buttermilk, you've got competition.
Note: Dashi can be made by combining 1 quart of water with a 6-inch piece of kombu (sea kelp) and bringing it to a simmer over high heat. Remove from heat and add 1 cup of loosely packed katsuobushi flakes. Alternatively, dashi can be purchased in powdered form.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/3 cups dashi or low-sodium chicken stock (see note)
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 8 cups finely chopped cabbage
- 2 cups chopped raw shrimp
- 8 scallions, sliced, divided
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 8 slices bacon, sliced in half
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Kewpie Mayonnaise
- Okonomiyaki or tonkatsu sauce
- Toasted sesame seeds
- Pickled ginger
In a large bowl whisk together flour, dashi or stock, and eggs. Add chopped cabbage and mix so that the cabbage is gently crushed into the batter. Fold in shrimp and scallion whites then season with salt.
Heat 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat until shimmering. Add 1/4 of the batter, gently pushing the batter down with a spatula until flattened. Cook until underside is browned, about 4 minutes, then place 4 pieces of halved bacon on the top side. Gently flip the pancake so that the side with the bacon is now cooking. Cook until the bacon is crisp and the pancake is cooked through, about 5 more minutes. Serve immediately with mayonnaise, okonomiyaki sauce, toasted sesame seeds, pickled ginger, and scallion greens. Repeat with remaining pancakes.
large non-stick skillet