It’s Baaaaaaack … Sourdough Starter

I had a recent conversation with a work colleague and the topic of sourdough came up. (See, it’s not MY fault.) Anyway, I offered him a sample of my dried starter so he could try to bake some. When I got home, I had a moment, or three, of insecurity, and decided to rehydrate a sample, to make sure that it was still viable after twenty-two months spent at room temperature in my pantry. The house is relatively cold (70 deg F) and it took three days to get a nice bubbly starter. And then, I had to figure out something to do with that starter.

As a consequence of the romaine lettuce recall, I’ve switched to raw vegetables and coleslaw as veggie sides. Coleslaw is relatively perishable so I planned on making my usual coleslaw staple … okonomiyaki. However, I decided to substitute the flour and water (and baking powder) in the recipe with sourdough starter. I did two, poorly planned trials, as I started by using active starter (plus half the baking powder from the original recipe). The resulting pancake was a bit loose to start with but did firm up. In the second trial, I used discard starter, cut back on the water (and NO baking powder) and was much happier with the results so that’s the recipe I’m including below, along with the accompaniments.

Sourdough Starter Okonomiyaki – savoury cabbage pancake served with smoked cheese sausage

Sourdough Starter Okonomiyaki – makes 1 pancake

Pancake base

60 gm sourdough starter, active or discard
1 whole egg
1/8 tsp salt

Fillings

3/4 cup cabbage, shredded (or bagged coleslaw mix)
2 tbsp sliced green onion tops

Optional Vegetable Add-ins – use a couple of your favourites

grated seasonal vegetables such as carrots, daikon radish, sweet potatoes and squash
grated firm fruits such as pears and apples

Optional Protein Stir-ins/Add-ins – pick one

2-3 slices cooked bacon
1/4 cup diced surimi (fake crab legs)
2-3 chopped poached large shrimp
1/4 cup diced Chinese bbq pork
a few slices of leftover pork roast, julienned

Okonomiyaki Toppings

1 tbsp Japanese mayonnaise (or western mayonnaise diluted with 1 tbsp milk to make it easier to pipe)
A few pinches of aonori (ground dried green seaweed) or a couple of tbsp of shredded nori
Dried bonito shavings or flakes (to taste)

Making the pancake

In a small bowl, stir together the starter, egg and the salt. Add the shredded cabbage and green onion and mix together thoroughly. If adding other vegetables, fruits and proteins, do so at this point.

Heat the griddle (or frying pan) over medium heat and with a paper towel, dipped in a bit of vegetable oil, season the pan. Spoon the okonomiyaki mixture onto the griddle and spread it into a round shape about 1/2-3/4 an inch (1.2 – 2 cm) thick.

When the edges of the pancake lose their shine (look dry, about 2-3 minutes), lay the cooked bacon pieces on top, turn the pancake over with a spatula and fry while pressing down on the pancake slightly until the middle is cooked through and set (a couple of minutes should be enough).

This pancake was topped with crispy bacon and diced avocado

Home-made Okonomiyaki Sauce – mix the following together

3 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp soy sauce

NOTE: Tonkatsu Sauce may be used instead of the Okonomiyaki sauce

Transfer the pancake to a serving dish, bacon side up. Spread the okonomiyaki sauce over the top, drizzle the top with mayonnaise in an attractive pattern. Sprinkle the seaweed over the top and the dried bonito flakes.

Dig in.

Cross-section of the pancakes

Carole’s No Knead Sourdough Loaf – cottage cheese (1/3 cup), crispy fried onion (1 tbsp), dill seed (1/2 tbsp) and dill weed (1/2 tbsp)

The shaped sourdough loaf was allowed to proof in a towel lined, rice flour coated, colander. To turn out into the preheated dutch oven, a parchment paper lined baking sheet was placed over the dough, FLIPPED over, and the towel removed. The loaf was scored and transferred, using the parchment paper as a sling, into the dutch oven before being baked.

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