As often happens, I tried making a new dish for dinner the other week. Since Rachael’s started grad school and found herself so busy during the days, we’ve tried to move towards making meals that produce easily recyclable leftovers so she doesn’t have to scramble to find something to take with her for lunch every day. In that vein, she’s become interested in bento, so I’ve been experimenting a little bit with some Asian recipes.
The thing about potato oyaki is that it’s designed to be made from leftovers. You make the dough for the little pancakes from plain mashed potatoes that are presumably left over from another meal, and the soboro meat filling is something you make in advance as an ingredient you pull out for one of many meals instead of making it just for this one. Of course, I didn’t plan with that level of forethought, so I made all the components from scratch in a single evening, which was manageable, but time consuming (I’d say from start to finish I took about two hours to make the oyaki).
First, here’s how they looked when they were finished:
What’s not visible in the picture is how the crispy bits on some of them separated in the pan (I used our cast iron skillet with only a little bit of oil for the first batch), which led me to shallow fry the second batch. You can see the difference between the two runs, as the first set only have a relatively small, splotchy circle of browning on their sides while the second set are crispy and uniformly browned in a much larger area. When the recipe says to use a non-stick skillet, take it seriously if you don’t want to final effect to be more akin to a hash brown than a pancake.
Inside each of those little potato cakes is a center of soboro made with ground turkey and a mixture of green onions, ginger, garlic, sugar, soy sauce, and oyster sauce (if you’ve ever had Chinese steamed buns or dumplings with meat filling, the flavor’s very similar to what’s usually served in those). The recipe also calls for sake; I used mirin, a sweet cooking rice wine that’s usually a primary ingredient in teriyaki sauces. It was pretty easy stuff to make, and I had a lot left over after filling the oyaki, so I bagged it and froze it for later use. Here’s a picture of one of the oyaki cut open so you can see the filling:
It might be a little hard to see, but it’s definitely in there.
One variation I did on making the dough (and I don’t know if this was a big deal in the end) was that I didn’t peel the potatoes before I mashed them. This meal is very heavy on protein and starch (really it should probably be paired with some vegetables) so I wanted to keep the potato skin in the dough for a little bit of visual interest and to have something else of nutritional value in there. I didn’t notice any problems with prep or cooking because of the skin.