Okonomiyaki is an iconic Japanese street food savoury pancake. Who would not like it? Loaded with heaps of shredded cabbage and scallions, topped with protein of your choice, and sizzling delicious Okonomiyaki sauce?
What is Okonomiyaki?
You may already know what it is. This is for those who are new to Japanese cuisine. It is simply a Japanese savoury pancake made primarily from shredded cabbage, flour, eggs and water. Some call it Japanese pizza.
Also it is a very versatile dish that has many adaptations and various topping options. That is why it gets the name Okonomiyaki. “Okonomi” meaning “what you like” and “yaki” meaning grilled as I explained in my post, Understanding Japanese food terms.
Styles of Okonomiyaki
In Japan, the batter and toppings will differ from region to region, but the three main styles are Kansai or Osaka, Hiroshima, and Tokyo. My favourite is the Kansai style because that’s the area I grew up in. It is also the main version of Okonomiyaki and the most common around Japan; and most likely the kind that you see in Japanese restaurants in your city.
Characteristics of Osaka style
The difference of Osaka style recipe is that the shredded cabbage and green onion are mixed and folded into the batter unlike Hiroshima style recipe in which the ingredients are fried in layers. Also, the Osaka style has a larger portion of shredded cabbage than Hiroshima style.
Because the Osaka style has more cabbage and it is mixed into the batter, the way you shred it and the size of the cabbage is quite important. If not done properly, the cabbage would become soggy during cooking. When cooked through it still will have the crispness of cabbage. So it needs to be shredded about 3cm (1.2inch) long in length.
The most common topping of Osaka style is thin pork-belly strips which is called “Buta-dama”. However as the name suggests, you can put whatever you like. I often cook this with my students (learning Japanese) in my Japanese class and ask them to bring toppings they like. Some brought a piece of bacon which was a fresh idea for me and it was delicious.
Usually we garnish with red Pickled Ginger, Bonito Flakes , seaweed called Aonori . I understand that those ingredients are difficult to find if there are not any Japanese grocery stores near you. They are available online. Also because Okonomiyaki has become so popular world wide, you can also purchase an Okonomiyaki Kit nowadays.
The Okonomiyaki Batter
Now you can make the batter from scratch, or you can also purchase Okonomiyaki savoury pancake premix. Because it is so convenient and easy to use, I often use a premix. It already contains dashi stock powder and baking powder so what you need to do is just add egg and water.
I usually use store bought Okonomiyaki sauce as they are readily available in Japan like soy sauce. My favourite brand is “Otafuku”. If you can not get any okonomiyaki sauce, I included it in my online shop or you can mix 2tbs tomato sauce, 2tbs worcestershire sauce, 1tsp oyster sauce, and 1tsp honey or maple syrup all together.
Special ingredients: Tenkasu
Tenkasu is a Tempura byproduct. Tenkasu means tempura waste though it is not a waste. We recycle this byproduct. It is an important secret ingredient of Okonomiyaki and Takoyaki in my humble opinion. It adds both flavour and texture. And you can buy those from shops too in Japan.
But What if I Don’t Have a Teppan?
No problem. Although it may be the best way to cook Okonomiyaki on a big steel plate called “Teppan” just like the one you see at street food markets, you don’t need to own a teppan. You can flip the pancake on your frying pan or use a BBQ if your BBQ has a flat cook surface. I bought a Grill Pan in Japan and brought it back to Australia.
Oh, and if you have Wide egg flippers like the photo below, it certainly makes flipping the savoury pancake a lot easier. My daughter was flipping the pancake in the photos above, and she was hesitant thinking she would break the pancake. However, she found the flipping easy with the wide egg flippers. I bought them from Daiso for just $2.80.
Osaka Okonomiyaki is a great dish to make with your family and friends if you have a hot plate because you can all cook your Osaka style Okonomiyaki together at the same time and have fun adding different toppings. Hope you enjoy!!
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- 200 ml water
- 1 tsp konbu dashi stock powder
- 160 g plain flour
- 4 egg
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp sugar
- 480 g finely chopped cabbage
- 40 g chopped green shallot
- 40 g Tenkasu
- 160 g thinly sliced pork
- bonito flake to garnish
- pickled ginger to garnish
- Aonori to garnish
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1/4 cup okonomiyaki sauce
- Dissolve the dashi powder into the water to make the dashi stock.
- Place the flour in a large bowl and add salt, sugar, and pour the dashi stock in to mix. Set aside.
- Divide the chopped cabbage, green shallots, and tenkasu into 4 small mixing bowls.
- Add one egg each and 1/4 of flour and dashi mixture to each bowl.
- Mix them well together with a fork.
- Heat cooking plate to 200 degrees and pour the cabbage mixture onto the cooking plate to spread approximately 2cm thickness.
- Place the thinly sliced pork and bonito flake on top of the cabbage mixture.
- When the edge of the okonomiyaki has become firm and cooked, flip it over with two egg flippers.
- Put the lid on and steam grill for a few minutes.
- Turn the okonomiyaki over one more time to check whether the meat is cooked.
- Brush the okonomiyaki with Okonomiyaki sauce and garnish with pickled ginger, more bonito and sprinkle aonori to serve.
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