One of the goal’s we’ve had for our allotment since the very beginning has been to grow as much as we can throughout the year so that we can keep allowing the land to sustain us, at least in part, through the winter months as well as the summer. Obviously we’re far from being able to live entirely off our allotment – we don’t have that kind of space even in the summer – but to at least be able to supplement our weekly food with some of our own produce is part of the joy for us. Brassicas such as kale and broccoli are my favourite plants to grow through the winter. They are absolute troopers and can tolerate the low temperatures and sustained wet weather in our part of the country. Kale can be picked and allowed to regrow throughout the winter, but broccoli florets are still a while away from appearing, but did you know you can eat the leaves of broccoli plants? Or purple sprouting broccoli always has plenty of leaves and doesn’t seem to be perturbed when we take a few for the kitchen, and they’re full of the nutrients you’d expect to find such as vitamin C, calcium, iron and fibre. This Japanese-inspired dish is a great way to use these powerhouse leaves and it’s simple and tasty too.
Something you might not know about me is that I actually really love Japan, I’m fascinated by Japanese culture, and I ADORE Japanese food. Japanese cuisine is so much more than sushi and ramen, and when you visit you realise how much the Japanese embrace seasonality in general, quality seasonal produce, and seasonal food. I’ve been fortunate to spend a fair amount of time in Japan over the years and I’m always inspired by their observance of seasonal change and embracing the temporary, cyclical nature of life.
Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savoury pancake usually made with shredded cabbage mixed into a delicious umami batter. All sorts of additions can go into okonomiyaki such as seafood, onion, pork or bacon, and other vegetables and once it’s cooked the whole thing is drizzled with a delicious sauce, mayonnaise and sprinkled with seaweed and bonito flakes. It’s a great way of using up leftover bits and pieces, and it’s really straightforward to make too. In this version, I’ve used shredded broccoli leaves rather than cabbage, as it’s a really great way of using this homegrown and super nutritious vegetable that often gets overlooked in the kitchen.
Broccoli Leaf Okonomiyaki Recipe
- Broccoli leaves, washed and shredded
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 1 tsp cornflour or potato starch
- 2 tbsp cold water
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- Small piece fresh ginger
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- Okonomiyaki sauce (available in larger supermarkets or specialist stores, or make your own with this recipe)
- Kewpie mayonnaise (or add some dashi powder and sugar to regular mayonnaise to taste)
- Nori or dulse flakes
- Katsuobushi (bonito) flakes (optional)
- Combine flours together, add the cold water and mix thoroughly to get rid of any lumps. Add the soy sauce and grate in the ginger. Beat in the egg until you have a smooth batter, then add your shredded broccoli leaves.
- Heat a sauté pan with a tbsp vegetable oil and pour in the okonomiyaki mixture. Spread the mixture around the pan until you have a round shape and cook gently with the lid on the pan for 5 minutes, checking to make sure it doesn’t burn. Once browned on the bottom, flip over and finish cooking on the other side for a few more minutes.
- Plate and generously drizzle over the okonomiyaki sauce followed by the kewpie mayonnaise. Sprinkle over the nori flakes and bonito flakes and enjoy!
Let me know if you try this!
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