I’ve cooked with a gas stove before; I had one while I was living in Japan a couple years ago and loved it. Once I got used to it, I enjoyed how it heated quickly and how it made the kitchen nice and warm during the frigid winter months (most Japanese houses don’t have central heating, so this was very important!) However, that love has not transferred over to the gas oven that we’ve got on board the sailboat.
My fiance insists there’s nothing wrong with it, but I’ve found it to be the bane of my shipboard existence so far. It “cooks” so slowly, if at all! I’ve attempted to bake bread, roast vegetables, and broil meat skewers, and each time I’ve had to either leave the food in the oven for twice as long (in the case of the bread) or given up altogether and finished cooking it on the stovetop. As the currently unemployed partner in our relationship, I’ve taken on the “chef” role with relish. However, I have a feeling that the Evil Gas Oven will become for this blog what automobile traffic was to my old Hawaii blog (as in, that single thing I bitch about more than any other.) I fear it’s going to make me miserable come Christmas cookie baking time.
Anyway, in the interest of taking part in Foodie Friday, I thought it might be cool to write about some useful dishes I’ve found that can be easily created in a tiny sailboat kitchen. I’m not the most creative chef yet, but I do peruse food blogs like a thrift shopper at Goodwill and love to see what others have come up with. The internet is marvelous sometimes, like when a search for “what the heck do I do with all these green onions?!” comes back with several results.
We bought a ton of food for our recent sailing trip to New York City, and ended up only eating about a third of it because we were too busy enjoying the delicious restaurants in the city. After we returned to Virginia, we realized we had a fridge full of vegetables that we needed to use quickly, including three (!) batches of green onions. I like scallions as much as the next person, but I’ve only ever used 2-4 of them at a time in any given recipe. But they all needed to be eaten somehow, so off to the interwebs I went. After the above google search, I stumbled upon a brilliant idea: okonomiyaki!
Okonomiyaki is a popular dish in Japan, and is basically a savory pancake with a bunch of add-ons (more or less, depending on the region. For instance, while in Osaka you’ll find the more straightforward pancake variety, in Hiroshima the ingredients will be layered on top of each other.) I thought this would be a brilliant throwback to our time in Japan, where we were both living when we met. There were only two reservations I had: I’d somehow never managed to eat okonomiyaki the whole time I was over there, although I did have pajeon once in Korea so I kind of had an idea of what it was supposed to taste like. Second, I’ve been pretty health-conscious of late (combination of wedding dieting and actually having the time to take care of myself now that I’m no longer in the Navy) so I was hesitant on preparing fried carby goodness for dinner. However, thanks to the internet again, I came across The Skinny Fork and a healthy okonomiyaki recipe!
I made a couple of modifications – using green onions in place of all the vegetables, and making the batter out of pancake mix because we don’t have whole wheat flour – but the result was delicious (and not that far off from the original according to my fiance, although he could have just said that to be polite). When I later plugged the ingredients into My Fitness Pal, it totaled a little over 200 calories a serving. Success!
Here’s my modified recipe (credit to Amanda at The Skinny Fork for the original)
Okonomiyaki (makes 4)
1 C. Pancake mix
3/4 C. Water
Grated vegetables of your choice (this is where I used two batches of green onions)
4 Slices Center Cut Low Sodium Bacon, Cooked
1 Tsp. Soy Sauce
Salt & Pepper to Taste
5 Tsp. Sriracha
“Okonomiyaki Sauce” made from 3 Tbsp Ketchup, 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce, and 1 Tsp Mustard. Not authentic, but those were the ingredients I had on hand 🙂
Combine all the ingredients together for the Okonomiyaki in a large bowl until well blended.
Lightly coat a pan with non-stick cooking spray and drop 1/4 of the mixture onto the prepared pan. Pat the mixture down a bit until it’s flattened, roughly the size of your hand, and about 1/2 inch thick. Cook on medium heat for about 5-7 minutes, or until the sides and underneath are beginning to brown and crisp.
Carefully flip and cook for about another 5-7 minutes, or until the remaining side is beginning to brown and crisp.
Remove from heat once cooked through and top with Sriracha, Sauce, and whatever else you want. Repeat for the remaining Okonomiyaki. Serve warm and enjoy!
Bringing this back to the title of the post: I did manage to find one use for the Evil Gas Oven – while it utterly sucks at cooking, it’s great for keeping things warm since the temperature doesn’t get that high. I put the finished okonomiyakis in there while I was frying the others, and so they were still warm and crispy by the time I served them. I guess it’s not a complete waste of space.