Okonomiyaki (Japanese Cabbage Pancake) Recipe
Okonomiyaki is one of those funky dishes that at first you don’t even want to try, but once you had your first bite, you can’t stop eating. It’s almost too much going on in this dish. It might overwhelm you with a robust smoked smell of katsuobushi, an intensity that comes from pickled ginger and sweetness from okonomiyaki sauce. But somehow all those strong flavors can harmoniously coexist in a peaceful marriage in one bizarre but unpretentious dish, and although Okonomiyaki is a very casual and humble meal, it’s far from being ordinary. That’s why it has been served in all sort of places, from Japanese restaurants to Tokyo subway stations.
What the Heck is Okonomiyaki?
Okonomiyaki is a Japanese cross between pancake and omelette. Translating from Japanese it means “Cooked how you like it”. This name could not be more perfect because you can add almost any of your favorite ingredients or simply use whatever leftovers you have in your fridge. Meat, seafood, veggies, and noodles, anything can be added. The only one ingredient you can’t change is cabbage, that’s the element that will help your pancake stick together on a frying pan.
Every region in Japan has its own Okonomiyaki style. In Hiroshima, they make them with ground meat. In Hamamatsu – mix pickled daikon into the batter. And in Okayama add oysters. But Osaka is considered the mother city of Okonomiyaki, no wonder their version is the most famous one. In Osaka, they typically fry them with bacon and finish with all the traditional toppings like Japanese mayo, okonomiyaki sauce, dried wakame, and bonito flakes. This recipe I’ll share with you today.
How to Serve
Before you start cooking make sure you have all the condiments for serving okonomiyaki because they won’t be even half as good without them.
Japanese mayo. It tastes different from the US version. It much creamier and seems to be higher in acid. Even if you’re not a fan of mayo you I’m telling you that you don’t want to skip it in this dish. You can also use Sriracha mayo to add a little spicy kick.
Okonomiyaki sauce. Thicker and sweeter cousin of Worcestershire sauce. If you have a well stock pantry, you can easily make it from scratch, or as an alternative buy it at the Asian store or order from Amazon.
Furikake. It’s a dry Japanese seasoning that consists of dried fish, sesame seeds, chopped seaweed, and some pretty basic spices. I also love to sprinkle it on my rice and ramen.
Katsuobushi or Bonito flakes. Paper thin shaved fermented, smoked and then dried skipjack tuna. That what brings a funky element to okonomiyaki. When you top hot pancakes with a handful of katsuobushi the flakes begin to move from the steam, so don’t get scared they are not coming back to life.
Last, but not least, serve your okonomiyaki as fast as you can. They taste the best right from the skillet.
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 lb white cabbage, thinly shredded
- 1 1/2 inch ginger, peeled an d finally chopped
- 2 green onions, finely sliced
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 6 slices of bacon, 5 inch each
- Okonomiyaki sauce, for serving
- Sriracha mayo or Japanese mayo, for serving
- 1/4 cup bonito flakes, for serving
- 1 tablespoon furikake for serving, optional
- 2 tablespoons chopped green onion, for serving
- In a big mixing bowl, whisk together water and eggs. Add flour and salt and whisk until smooth.
- Mix the batter with shredded cabbage, ginger, and green onion. Season with black pepper and a bit more salt if needed.
- Heat half the oil in a medium non-stick frying pan.
- Place half of the cabbage mixture on the frying pan and shape in like a thick pancake. Cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat.
- After 5 minutes, place 3 slices of bacon on top of the cabbage pancake. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Using wide spatula carefully flip the pancake on the other side. Fry covered with a lid for 5 minutes, until the bacon is golden brown and crispy.
- Transfer the pancake on a plate, bacon side up. Keep warm in the preheated oven (200 F) while you're cooking the second pancake. Repeat all the steps above.
- When you're ready to serve okonomiyaki, drizzle them with okonomiyaki sauce and Sriracha mayo. Top with furikake, bonito flakes, and green onion.