Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Dia da panqueca - okonomiyaki

A terça-feira de carnaval (Terça-feira gorda) é celebrada no Reino Unido sem confete ou serpentinas, mas com muita panqueca.
Conhecido como Pancake Day (dia da panqueca), este era o dia em que os britânicos gastavam os ingredientes que tradicionalmente eram banidos das mesas no período da quaresma, especialmente leite, manteiga e ovos.
Para os cristãos, o período entre a quarta-feira de cinzas e a Páscoa é um momento de sacrifício e jejum e a melhor forma que os cristãos britânicos encontraram para se esbaldar antes da carestia não era caindo no samba, mas comendo panquecas!

Carnival Tuesday (Fat Tuesday) is celebrated in the UK without confetti or streamers, but with lots of pancakes. 
Known as Pancake Day,(Shrove Tuesday) this was the day when traditionally the British used up the ingredients that were traditionally banned from tables during Lent, especially milk, butter and eggs. 
For Christians, the period between Ash Wednesday and Easter is a time of sacrifice and fasting and the best way that British Christians found to splash out before the famine was not by dancing in the streets to samba,but by running through the streets tossing pancakes!
So how did this all start, you ask?
England and Japan have a lot in common.England and Japan are both fond of food fried in batter, fish and chips and tempura, respectively. Could this, like their shared taste for plain cooking, be another consequence of being island nations? No, it's simpler than that. Both countries picked up the recipe from Portuguese explorers in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Earlier Japanese food was either simply fried without breading or batter, or fried with rice flour. However, toward the end of the 16th century, fritter-cooking with a batter of flour and eggs was acquired in Nagasaki from Portuguese missionaries and merchants from the region of Alentejo.
The earliest known form was a round fritter of mixed vegetables and seafood called kaki-age,which is a most likely descendant of the modern day pancake.The more common type of Japanese pancake is a street food called Okonomiyaki
Kansai- or Osaka-style okonomiyaki is the predominant version of the dish, found throughout most of Japan. The batter is made of flour, water or dashi, eggs and shredded cabbage, and usually contains other ingredients such as green onion, meat (generally thin strips of pork belly, often mistaken for bacon), octopus, squid, shrimp, vegetables, or cheese. Okonomiyaki is sometimes compared to an omelette and may be referred to as a "Japanese pizza" 
Personally, I think it’s more like a hybrid of a pancake and frittata,or a Spanish tortilla? Maybe the Spanish missionaries were involved in this history too? After all Andalucia is the frying capital of Europe.
 Some okonomiyaki restaurants( there are at least six now in Lisbon and even more in London) are grill-it-yourself establishments, where the server produces a bowl of raw ingredients for the customer to mix and grill himself at tables fitted with teppan, or special hotplates. They may also have a diner-style counter where the cook prepares the dish in front of the customers.
In Osaka (the largest city in the Kansai region), where this dish is said to have originated, the batter and other ingredients are pan-fried on both sides using metal spatulas that are later used to slice the dish when it has finished cooking.It is a very versatile dish that has many adaptations and various topping options. That is why it gets the name Okonomiyaki. “Okonomi” meaning “what you like” and “yaki” meaning grilled.Who would not like a savoury pancake? Loaded with heaps of shredded cabbage and spring onions, topped with protein of your choice, and sizzling delicious home made Okonomiyaki sauce?


Okonomiyaki
I have taken a more simplified approach,making it accessible for making at home on pancake day.
If you don’t eat pork or prefer another protein choice, this dish is very adaptable. I have used prawns and bacon.The possibility for the filling and topping choices are endless, which is why this dish as I have said translates as “Grill As You Like”
serves 2,or 8 as snack portions
plain flour 200g
egg 3, beaten
chicken stock 70ml, made up with 10ml colatura di alici or at a pinch thai fish sauce and then cooled
crisp white cabbage a 250g wedge, finely shredded
raw king prawns 120g,peeled,de-veined and  chopped
spring onions a bunch, white and green bits divided and shredded
vegetable oil for frying
streaky bacon 6 rashers,rindless and cut in half
pickled ginger drained and chopped to make 1 tbsp
sesame seeds

SAUCE
tomato ketchup 6 tbsp
Worcestershire sauce 2 tbsp
soy sauce 1 tbsp
mirin 1 tbsp
caster sugar 1 tbsp
Dijon mustard 1 tsp
garlic powder a good pinch

Mix all the sauce ingredients together. Put the plain flour in a large bowl. Whisk in the egg and the cooled chicken stock to make a batter. Season.
Stir in the cabbage, prawns and white spring onion bits. Heat a good coating of oil in a non-stick frying pan. Tip in the batter mix and press down with a spatula so it fills the pan.
Cook on a medium heat until the underside is golden and cooked through and it has set enough to turn.(6-8 mins) Slide it onto a plate, uncooked-side up, then add the strips of bacon to the top. Put the frying pan over the plate and use the plate to turn the pancake, uncooked-side down, back into the pan. Keep cooking, pressing down with a spatula until the inside is cooked and piping hot (you can test this with a metal skewer.)
Serve bacon-side up, drizzled with the sauce and sprinkled with ginger, sesame seeds and spring onion greens.

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