If you’ve read my previous posts at this time of the year, you’ll know that spring is my favourite season. Not just because I love the flowers and the feeling that everything is coming to life, but my favourite vegetable is available right now for a very short period of time, British asparagus.
I rarely do very much with asparagus. I like to savour the tender green stems just as they are. Either a quick flash in a hot frying pan or a blast in a hot oven, to give them a subtle smokiness, and that’s all the extra flavour I need.
This week’s recipe is based on a Japanese dish called Okonomiyaki which caught my eye recently. Originally made with wheat flour and eggs, my version of the pancake is gluten-free and egg-free. There’s a bit of vegetable preparation, but once that’s out of the way, everything else is very straightforward. The pancake makes a lovely lunch or light supper, and is the perfect base for a topping of freshly cooked asparagus.
If you don’t want the hassle of a cooked topping, try sliced avocado and baby spinach or a pile of fresh pea shoots and wild rocket for a salad topping instead. If you have the inclination and the extra ingredients, I recommend making the barbecue dressing that accompanies the pancake. Utterly delicious, simple to make, and far tastier than any barbecue sauce I’ve ever been able to buy. A great finishing touch to any grilled or barbecued food.
- 2 tbsp. flax seeds
- 45g white rice flour
- 50g dry white free-from breadcrumbs
- 75ml white miso or vegetable stock
- 75g soft-leaved cabbage, such as Sweet-heart or Hispi, shredded
- 3 spring onions, trimmed and chopped
- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 150g thin fresh asparagus stems, trimmed
- Vegan mayonnaise to serve
For the barbecue dressing:
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp. tomato ketchup
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp gluten-free light soy sauce
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- Put the flax seeds in a coffee grinder or small food processor and blend until finely ground. Transfer to a bowl and stir in 6 tbsp. cold water. Leave to soak for 5 minutes by which time the mixture will thicken.
- Sift the rice flour on top and mix together with the stock to make a smooth batter.
- Add the cabbage, spring onion and breadcrumbs and mix everything together to make a thick, stiff batter – add a little water if the mixture is very dry, but this is not a pourable batter, it is more like a firm cake mixture.
- Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a frying pan with a lid and add half the batter. Press the mixture to form a thick round approx. 16cm diameter. Fry over a medium heat with the lid on for 5 minutes. Carefully flip over, and cook on the other side, covered with the lid, for another 5 minutes. Drain and keep warm, whilst you cook the remaining mixture in the same way.
- Once the pancakes are cooked, heat the remaining oil in the frying pan until hot and quickly cook the asparagus, turning, for 3-4 minutes until just wilted. Drain and keep warm.
- To serve, mix all the dressing ingredients together. Slip the pancakes on to warm serving plates and drizzle with mayonnaise and the barbecue dressing. Top with asparagus and serve immediately.
Until next week, I’ll leave you with another image of my favourite vegetable. Have a good week and I look forward to seeing you next time 🙂