Flour-based foods called konamon are among Osaka's most popular foods. Even though konamon dishes are a type of casual fast food, no effort has been spared in finding the best ways to cook and serve them. Mr. Takeshi Kadokami, a specialist in the food culture of the Kansai region, speaks about okonomiyaki and takoyaki, the two most typical konamon dishes.
The common people of Osaka made a dish by mixing flour, broth, and chopped cabbage into a batter and pan-frying it for lunch. This easily cooked and eaten dish made of cheap ingredients is the origin of okonomiyaki.
Another dish, takoyaki, is made by mixing flour with water, pouring it on a griddle with rows of small, bowl-shaped indentations, and then adding other ingredients. Chopped octopus is a required ingredient for takoyaki, as indicated by the name: tako means octopus. Other ingredients include pickled ginger and tempura crumbs.
As a result of the non-stop efforts to find better ways to cook and serve okonomiyaki and takoyaki, a variety of special recipes have been developed and are now available to customers.
The creation of innovative okonomiyaki recipes involves experimentation both with the broth that is mixed with the flour, and with the additional ingredients, especially the sauce. While broth made from bonito flakes and kelp is typically used in okonomiyaki, there are also cooks who use broth made from pork bones and chicken stock. Takoyaki cooks have continued to make innovations in their broth as well, and have developed grilling techniques to give takoyaki a unique texture and flavor.
The taste of okonomiyaki and takoyaki depends largely on the sauce added at the finishing stage. Osaka is home to a number of small private sauce factories which have developed original, high quality sauces using the minimum of equipment necessary. The survival of these small sauce factories is due in part to being supported by orders for original sauce from okonomiyaki and takoyaki shops. These factories cannot massproduce sauce, so their products are available only to a limited number of customers. The limited availability of these sauces contributes to the distinctiveness of each okonomiyaki and takoyaki shop. In addition, cooks often mix various kinds of sauce to produce their own original taste.
People in Osaka often cook okonomiyaki and takoyaki at home. Both are very familiar dishes, as it is said that every family in Osaka has a takoyaki griddle.
The wide variety and reasonable prices of konamon dishes make them an ideal introduction to the gourmet world of Osaka.
This article is written with the cooperation of:
Jibundoki:4-5-11 Minamikyuhoji-machi, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi Phone:+81-6-6253-1661 Umaiya:4-21 Naniwa-cho, Kita-ku, Osaka-shi Phone: +81-6-6373-2929 Nishino Saketen:2-12-4 Nakagawa Nishi, Ikuno-ku, Osaka-shi Phone: +81-6-6731-7406
PROFILE Takeshi Kadokami Mr. Kadokami is a food columnist, who serves as an editor-in-chief for "Amakaratecho," one of the best known culinary magazines in the Kansai region. He has written many articles about foods and frequently appears in the media, including TV, radio and magazines.
From: Brand-New Osaka vol.6 (2007.9.)