Monja yaki もんじゃ焼き
I really enjoying reading ‘Silver Spoon’ Japanese manga (comic book) by my favorite author, Mari Ozawa. The series first started in February of last year and I now have volume three. The story is about an incredibly handsome high school senior whose father passed away three years earlier, then his mother became ill and was hospitalized. He now faces the challenge of taking care of his pre-teen brother and sister. Although his experience in the kitchen is limited, he quickly develops his skill and love for cooking. This manga includes recipes in each episode. Here I tried one and it was fast, easy and mighty fine!
History of monja is sort of hazy. The picture of what seems like making monja appeared in Hokusai manga (北斎漫画）in 1819 but it doesn’t tell who started it. Likely the origin of monja come from when people wrote moji (文字-word) with batter in a skillet to amuse themselves thus moji-yaki (文字焼き-baked character) became monja- yaki. The manga ‘Silver Spoon’ explanation is very simple- press ingredients with flat side of spatula like monja so that called monja-yaki. Monja-yaki is quicker to be ready to eat than its close cousin okonomi-yaki and both are crowd pleasers but this is gooier and untidy.
- All purpose flour 1 cup
- Dashi stock 3 cups-I used udon tea bag style dashi steep in very hot water.
- Worcester sauce 2 Tablespoons
- Vegetable oil-1-2 teaspoon
- Thin sliced pork side 1 pound
- Half head of cabbage thinly sliced
- Spicy cod roe, mentaiko (明太子) 2-3 cut in chunk
- Mochi-Japanese rice cake cut into chunks
- Sliced cheese 2-3 (optional)
- Eringi (king oyster mushroom) 3-4 chopped
- Agedama or tenkasu (あげ玉-fried tempura batter pieces), available in the refrigerator section of Japanese market. This inexpensive item makes a big difference in texture.
Other ingredients suggestion: Squid, green onion, shrimp, shiitake, ham, bacon
- Make batter: In a large bowl, combine flour, dashi stock and Worcester sauce. The batter is very watery but don’t be alarmed.
- Put all ingredients except cheese in an another large bowl then add one ladle full of batter and combine.Note; I did in two batches because I did not have big enough bowl.
- Heat griddle over medium heat then oil the surface with a paper towel soaked with oil
- Put half of the vegetable mixture onto the griddle and stir fry until cabbage is wilted.
- Make a well in the cabbage mixture and pour batter (about a couple of ladle full) in the center of the well. Note; The batter may have separated, you need to mix it well before adding.
- Start incorporate cabbage mixture and batter. Press with monja spatula.
- When the mochi is soft lay a slice of cheese on top.
- Enjoy with okonomi sauce and mayonnaise if you like.
My son’s friend is here visiting from Okinawa, Japan. I feel sorry for her that she has to endure the chaos of construction, dust and all. We made a day trip to Cannon Beach. It’s the opposite spectrum to beaches in Okinawa-windy, cold and nobody swimming.
The main character said I cook because I want to see happy faces-That is so deep.
Bonus Information-Ookiya (大木屋) in Tokyo is voted the best as monja-yaki restaurant.