Recipe: Chef Jillian’s okonomiyaki

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Chef Jillian Forte of At Sara’s Table Chester Creek Cafe loves making vegan and gluten-free dishes more fun. And her okonomiyaki, a vegetable pancake, hits the mark.

It’s both on the menu at the cafe and in her cookbook.

“It’s a Japanese street food, and it’s really kind of an exciting dish,” Forte said, “and I really want people to try this new way with the egg inside of it.”

There’s a lot of prep involved with making her okonomiyaki: shredding cabbage, slicing mushrooms, crumbling tofu, and more.

She says the key to getting a fishy flavor in a vegan dish is toasting a sheet of nori to crumble in with the dry ingredients.

If it was prepared vegan without the egg, it’s important to add something to make the veggies stick together like a pancake. Forte gave a tip for making sure cornstarch does the trick.

“Because it’s vegan and gluten-free, it’s really hard to make things stick together,” Forte said. “So I’ve made a corn starch slurry. If you’re doing that at home, you’ve always got to use cold water so that it turns into this nice thing. If you use hot, it turns into like dumpling and clumps up.”

After the okonomiyaki is fried in hot oil, Forte tops it with a spicy vegan aioli, kimchi, and fresh cilantro.