I had earlier written about the essential okonomiyaki ingredient, Chinese mountain yam, otherwise known as:
huái shān (淮山), or shān yào (山药) [Chinese]
Dioscorea opposita [botanical name].
Yesterday, for the first time I finally made okonomiyaki using the correct type of yam. It did cause mild itching on the hands when it was being grated (as does normal Chinese yam as well) and was as gloopy and sticky as the various write-ups and photos on the internet promised.
However, this texture totally sent me off keel, and my existing sense of batter consistency, which worked fine before failed me here. Adding the ingredients using the ‘agak-agak‘ method of guesswork :), I just didn’t put in enough flour. The first okonomiyaki totally fell apart, overwhelmed by the soft texture of cooked yamaimo which gives okonomiyaki its distinctive mushy interior (contrasting with a crispy outside). I added a few more spoonfuls of flour to the remaining mixture, and the second okonomiyaki was great!
I noticed that yamaimo doesn’t have a noticeable flavour in the okonomiyaki, whereas when I used normal purple yam previously, the dish came out with a subtle yam taste, which I actually prefer :). However, yamaimo is well-known for its medicinal tonic properties, which is a good reason to use it!
So you can have fun experimenting with different ingredient substitutes and quantities like I did, or just follow a proper recipe :).