International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Okonomiyaki

Osaka-style okonomiyaki on the griddle

(Japanese savory "as-you-like-it" pancakes)

5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

Okay, let's be honest. This little Japanese concoction looks like an unidentifiable hot mess that washed up on the beach after a major weather event. But don't let that fool you! Okonomiyaki is unbelievably and addictively tasty.

Yaki is the Japanese word for all things grilled. And okonomi is a way of saying "as you like it" or "your preference." And that gives you some idea of the variations — both personal and regional — that abound for this savory pancake with toppings.

Okonomiyaki originated in the Kansai region of southern Japan, but its popularity has spread to the country as a whole, with each region putting its own spin on ingredients and form.

At its most basic, Osaka-style okonomiyaki is a simple wheat-flour pancake with vegetables and meats stirred into the batter. Once the pancake has been cooked on both sides, it is slathered with a special okonomi sauce and then richly garnished with a variety of toppings. This recipe is for that version.

For Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki, the cabbage and meat are kept separate from the batter and layered instead between two pancakes to cook. Once finished, the whole thing is topped with stir-fried yakisoba noodles and a fried egg.

4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

Pancake

  • Flour -- 1 1/2 cups
  • Baking powder -- 1 teaspoon
  • Salt -- 3/4 teaspoon
  • Water -- 1 cup
  • Eggs, beaten -- 3
  • Cabbage, shredded -- 2 cups
  • Scallions, sliced into thin rounds -- 1 bunch
  • Thinly sliced pork belly or bacon, cut into pieces -- 4 slices
  • Oil -- 2 to 3 tablespoons

Okonomi Sauce

  • Ketchup -- 1/2 cup
  • Worcestershire sauce -- 1/3 cup
  • Oyster sauce or soy sauce -- 3 tablespoons
  • Sugar -- 2 tablespoons

Garnishes

  • Mayonnaise in a squeeze bottle -- 1 cup
  • Scallions, sliced into thin rounds -- 1 bunch
  • Bonito flakes (optional) -- 1/2 cup

Method

  1. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. Stir in the water and beaten eggs to make a smooth, pourable batter. Add a little more water if needed. Then stir in the cabbage and scallions. Set the batter aside to rest while you make the okonomi sauce.
  2. Mix all of the ingredients for the okonomi sauce together in a small bowl until smooth and set aside.
  3. Heat a non-stick or well seasoned skillet over medium flame. Pour a little oil into the skillet and wipe out any excess with a paper towel. Give the okonomiyaki batter a big stir and ladle about 1 cup of batter into the skillet. Use a fork or spatula to pat the batter out toward the edge of the skillet and to give it an even thickness.
  4. Take a few of the squares of pork belly or bacon and lay them on the top of the batter. Then turn the pieces of pork over on the batter. This covers the pork with batter and makes sure it will stick to the pancake when you flip it.
  5. Once the bottom of the pancake has browned, after 3 or 4 minutes, carefully flip it over and cook it on the other side, another 3 or 4 minutes or so. Remove the finished pancake to a sheet pan, plate or platter and place it in a warm (170 degrees) oven.
  6. Repeat the process with the remaining batter to make more pancakes, holding them warm in the oven as each is completed until all are done.
  7. Remove the finished pancakes from the oven and place each on an individual plate. Use a brush or spoon to slather some okonomi sauce over the top of each pancake. Next squeeze the mayonnaise onto the okonomiyaki in a decorative pattern. Finally, sprinkle the pancakes with the remaining chopped scallions and optional bonito flakes. Serve immediately.

Okonomiyaki Variations

  • Okonomiyaki flour: For most Western kitchens, a simple wheat flour batter is easiest. In Japan, fresh grated mountain yam (nagaimo) would be added to the batter to give it all a slightly glutinous texture. Prepared okonomiyaki flour mixes with yam powder are available online. Or you can add a tablespoon or two of potato starch, cornstarch or rice flour to your batter to simulate the texture the yam gives.
  • Other batter additions: Seafood (shrimp, crab, squid, octopus), cooked pork, sliced mushrooms, shredded pickled ginger (beni shoga), mung bean sprouts.
  • Other toppings: Tenkasu crunchy batter bits (see recipe below), cooked yakisoba noodles, a fried egg.
  • Simple tenkasu recipe: Tenkasu are crunchy little bits of a simple fried batter. They adds a pleasant texture contrast as an okonomiyaki topping. Mix 1/4 cup flour with 1/4 cup water and 1 teaspoon vinegar. Carefully pour the batter slowly from a height of about 1 foot height into a wok or deep saucepan containing 1/2 inch of hot oil. Fry until browned, about 2 or 3 minutes. Strain and drain on paper towels, and then break into small bits with the edge of a spatula. Voila!

You Might Also Like