Translated by Verity Lane
Let's Make Monjayaki!
Written by Hiromasa Uematsu
This is a tutorial on how to cook monjayaki, a popular and delicious dish in the Kantō region.
Monjayaki is a popular dish which has been eaten in the downtown areas of Tokyo since times of old. At present, the number of specialist shops that serve it are on the rise, and it's quickly becoming a popular tourist attraction in itself.
The seating areas of most monjayaki restaurants have one feature that really stands out - all the tables are equipped with a hotplate to cook on. In this type of restaurant, it is expected that the customers prepare the dish by themselves (though there are some restaurants without this facility, where the food is prepared for the customer).
There is a specific technique for cooking monjayaki. To help ease your culinary concerns, this time we will be presenting you with a useful lecture on how to cook this delectable dish - something that even the Japanese might not know about!
Read also: Japanese Encyclopedia: Monjayaki
Step 1: Mix the Various Ingredients Together
When you order monjayaki, you will be passed a dish - similar to the one above - that contains all of the necessary ingredients. First of all, turn the ingredients out onto the hotplate and heat them up.
Please bear in mind that you are just cooking the ingredients at this time. The thick white flour-based batter will be used later, so please set it aside for now.
If you happen to cook the batter together with the ingredients at this point, the batter will harden prematurely, and the mixture will dry out. It's still edible but not as delicious as monjayaki.
Spread the ingredients out onto the hotplate. It should look something like this.
Step 2: Chop Up the Ingredients
Next, you need to thoroughly cook the ingredients. Just like the picture suggests, stand the two metal spatulas (called hera) up onto the hotplate, and finely chop up the ingredients.
Hold the spatula like this, and chop up the mixture carefully.
Step 3: Shape the Mixture into a Hollow Circle
Let the heat go through the mixture, and just as it softens, shape the ingredients like this, so that they resemble a ring with a hollow center.
The circle is called dode in Japanese, referring to its embankment or dam-like function. Adjust the dode so that the mix is roughly the same width and height all around.
Step 3: Pour the Mixture into the Center of the Dode (Dam)
The next step is to pour the batter into the center of the dam. Make sure that the dode is well formed, as we want you to experience the best possible tasting dish.
Make sure to pour the mixture out bit by bit, and not all in one go - let's make this a dish one to remember!
Having said that, if the batter does spill out over the side of the dam (just like the picture), don't worry, simply use the spatula to skilfully ease the mixture back into the center.
Step 3: Mix the Ingredients and Batter Together
Once you have poured out all the batter into the center, mix the contents together as they cook. This watery batter is the start of the thick monjayaki texture.
And, when it's not too dry or too watery, flip the monjayaki over and mix it up again.
Step 4: Et Voila!
Once you have mixed the parts together well making sure that it has an even consistency, spread it out onto the hotplate. It's now finished and ready to be devoured.
Just grab your special purpose small spatula (a hagashi in Japanese) and enjoy! There are many ways to use this utensil; scooping like a spoon is common. If left, monjayaki tends to harden and dry out over time, so the consistency is prone to change. Some like it soft and thick, while others like it hard and crunchy. It's a good idea to try them both to compare the various textures.
Now that you're a monjayaki chef, why not find an eating style that suits you?