Friday, September 9, 2011

Okonomiyaki Recipe - A Pancake With A Difference

Okonomiyaki is one of my all time favourites... er... I seem to be writing that a lot in these recipe posts of mine. But I guess I'm cherry picking out the extra delish recipes. Now there's lots of recipes out there for okonomiyaki, and it's a matter of finding the right one that suits your taste/preference. This is one that T-chan makes... and it's pretty easy but super yummy.

Now for those that haven't come across okonomiyaki, it's often referred to as a Japanese pancake... which I  kinda think is a bit of a misnomer. Yes, there's a pancake-type batter used, but it's predominantly a cabbage dish. The name okonomi derives from "whatever you like" or "your choice", and it sums up the fact that other than cabbage and batter there's a lot of freedom to make however you want. Okonomiyaki is often associated with Osaska (or the Kansai district in general) and Hiroshima.

Here's the basic rundown for the 'pancake' recipe for 3-4 people (based on a traditional Osaka-style):
  • 200-250g Flour
  • 10g Baking Powder (in Japan, we'd use nagaimo, or yam)
  • 2 Eggs
  • Approx 500g Cabbage (sliced)
  • 1/2  Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp Sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp Bonito Stock
  • Pinch Salt
  • 400 ml of water
  • 300g Pork (to taste)
  • Dried Shrimp or Prawn
Make the batter first by adding flour, water, baking powder, soy sauce, bonito stock, salt, and eggs together. After the batter is formed, add the rest of the ingredients - sometimes the egg will be added to the top of the pile of ingredients for extra appeal when you go to okonomiyaki restaurants. Now T-chan's secret is that you can just as easily throw all the ingredients in together at once. Other alternative ingredients include corn, mochi cut into small pieces, ham etc... Hiroshima style okonomiyaki commonly has yakisoba noodles and is layered rather than mixed.

The mix is then scooped (a cupful at most at a time) onto a hot fry-pan/hotplate (with vegetable oil), and then cooked through for a few minutes until the underneath is browning and well cooked. Flip the "pancake" over, and cook again until well done. Like pancakes, you don't want to under-cook it, and don't forget that the pork needs to be cooked too.

Now the topping is likewise "whatever you like", but for us, we use a standard sort of pattern:
  • Okonomiyaki sauce (can also substitute with something like chuno sauce)
  • Aonori (blue or green seaweed flakes... which are very finely chopped)
  • Bonito flakes (bonito is a fish) - or more properly katsuobushi
  • Japanese mayonnaise
  • Pickled red ginger
This is the fun part of okonomiyaki... first place the pancake onto a plate, then liberally coat with the okonomiyaki sauce... next comes the mayonnaise, then aonori, katsuobushi and finally the ginger. I can still remember the first time I had okonomiyaki I was totally entranced by watching the writhing bonito flakes on top. Very weird, but also magical.

Now, it might not seem like a lot, but trust me, okonomiyaki is a veritable meal in itself. The combination of flour batter, pork and of course cabbage can fill you up very quickly. Now there's all sorts of different varieties as I mentioned. For example, when we were in Osaka back in 2006, we enjoyed modanyaki (modern yaki), a combination of cabbage and yakisoba noodles at the okonomiyaki chain known as Fugetsu (which I posted about in my other blog Japanese Ties, see here). So whilst we're generally pretty traditional when it comes to okonomiyaki, there's a lot of different variations out there, and enough to keep you going for a long time.


  1. I love Okonomiyaki and it is quite easy to make at home. The great thing about it is you can add just about any kind of seafood and meat you want and cheese is also a great addition :)

    Japan Australia

  2. Hmmmm - cheese sounds interesting. We'll have to try it next time.

  3. Japan Australia,
    Cheese is common and popular. You should at least try once.

  4. Sounds like we'll be making okonomiyaki again soon. Any sort of cheese in particular?

  5. Try with processed cheese for pizzas that melts. It should make the taste a bit richer, and you would enjoy beer a bit more.
    Cut rice cake (mochi) goes, too, adding chewy feeling.
    "As you wish".

  6. Cheers Muravej... making me hungry just thinking about it.