Guest writer: Urusai_Uni#0007
One of the best parts of experiencing a culture is the food, and Japan is no different! There’s many different and unique dishes from all across Japan. The same dish might even have a unique spin depending on the region you’re in. One of my favorite foods that can be found all across Japan but always slightly different is called Okonomiyaki!
What is Okonomiyaki?
Okonomiyaki are basically a savory pancake, mostly containing cabbage. Sometimes referred to as “Japanese Pancakes” or “Japanese Pizza”, they also typically have meat of some sort (usually pork belly) and are topped with okonomiyaki sauce and Japanese mayonnaise. The best part about okonomiyaki, however, is that it can be made of pretty much anything you want. “Okonomi” means “how you like” and “yaki” means “to cook/burn”, so it literally translates to “cooked how you like!
There are two main styles of okonomiyaki; Kansai (or Osaka) style and Hiroshima style. Kansai style is the more popular of the two and is what you will typically see when traveling Japan. It’s made more like a single pancake. Popular ingredients are green onions, pork belly, squid, octopus, cheese or other vegetables.
Hiroshima style on the other hand, is several layers of batter, cabbage, and meat. The same popular ingredients in Kansai style apply to Hiroshima style, but Hiroshima style usually also includes ramen noodles and a fried egg on top, with lots of okonomiyaki sauce! It’s popular in, you probably guessed it, the Hiroshima area.
Okonomiyaki became popular following WWII since rice was scarce and it was fairly cheap to make. Nowadays, okonomiyaki is very much a comfort food and a staple of festivals all across Japan!
How to Make Okonomiyaki
Here I’ll be showing you how to make (basic) Kansai style okonomiyaki. Like I said, there’s lots of different ingredients to make it with so don’t be afraid to try something! This just happens to be what I had on hand. This recipe can also be doubled or tripled to make more than a single serving.
Today I used okonomiyaki flour which is a lot more convenient than making it completely from scratch. It’s easy to pick up at Asian Markets or online. As a substitute you can use all-purpose flour with a bit of starch or rice flour to make the batter stickier.
Makes: 1 pancake
Time: About 20-30 minutes
½ cup Okonomiyaki Flour
6 Tbsp water
2/3 cup shredded cabbage
1-2 slices of pork belly
Alternative: 3 Tbsp Ketchup, 1Tbsp Worchestire Sauce, 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
Alternative: Any other brand besides Kewpie will be fine, but non-Japanese brand mayonnaise will have a slightly different flavor.
1) In a medium size bowl, mix the water and the flour together to make the batter.
2) Add the shredded cabbage and egg. (Optional: add green onions for added flavor!) Combine the batter with the egg and cabbage, the batter should be enough to coat the cabbage but not be too liquidy. If you have too much batter, add more cabbage and if there’s too much cabbage, add a bit more water.
3) Lightly oil a pan and set to medium-low heat.
4) Spread the batter in the pan in a circular shape. The batter should be about half an inch thick. It needs to be thick enough to flip over without breaking but not so thick it won’t cook all the way through. Place your pork belly (or prefered meat/no meat) on top of the okonomiyaki. Cook the okonomiyaki for about 3-4 minutes on this side, until the bottom is browned.
5) Flip the okonomiyaki and cook for another 4 minutes, at least until the meat is cooked through and the edges are brown.
6) Flip one more time and cook again for another 2-3 minutes.
7) Plate and top with your sauces and enjoy! (Optional: bonito flakes, seaweed or panko crumbs are all popular toppings)
My okonomiyaki actually turned out a lot bigger than I thought it would! It’s one of my dad’s favorite foods from childhood and it’s also one of mine! I hope you enjoyed this aninspire and that you’ll like okonomiyaki too!