Friday, August 26, 2016

Foraged purslane Okonomiyaki. Japanese "pizza" from invasive weeds. Vegetarian optional.

The rain finally came to Texas, and broke the breeze-less 100+ degree heat. With that kind of weather, I hadn't been seeing many edible wild plants, except for heat-loving purslane. Even purslane needs water though, and the plants were wilted, shrunken, and unappetizing.

All that changed with the rain. The purslane fleshed out, becoming plump and succulent. As I've mentioned before, up north I always found purslane in really gross locations--like the parking lot behind and auto repair shop. I never found "clean" plants in great abundance, not enough to run real culinary experiments with.

So I was really excited to finally have enough purslane to try some new dishes. This is my first one: an okonomiyaki, a Japanese street food. Okonomiyaki is sometimes called "Japanese Pizza" because, like pizza in America, it's a popular snack and quick meal food which can be customized with a wide variety of toppings.
My vegetarian okonomiyaki, with king oyster mushrooms

"Normal" okonomiyaki is made from cabbage, and uses a special flour, which has been thickened with rice or yam. It also contains seasonings, including dashi (made from fermented fish). I've never actually used that flour, I've just experimented with changing proportions to get the right thickness, and with spices commonly found in an American home.