Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savoury pancake based on a batter containing a variety of ingredients and cooked on a hot plate. The name “okonomiyaki” is derived from the Japanese word “okonomi” meaning “what you like” or “what you want” and “yaki” meaning “grilled” or “cooked”. The history of okonomiyaki goes back about 500 years. It was originally made by spreading a thin layer of flour paste on a hot plate then adding miso for flavouring and rolling into a thin pancake. Later toppings such as chopped green onion and sliced dried fish were added and miso paste replaced by a special sauce.
In modern okonomiyaki, a wide variety of ingredients are used such as shrimp, squid, octopus, pork, cabbage and vegetables. The finished pancake is served with a special sauce, mayonnaise and seasonings such as green powdered seaweed (aonori/青海苔) and dried fish flakes (katsuobushi/鰹節).
In Japan, it is popular to eat okonomiayki at restaurants that specialize in the dish. In an okonomiyaki restaurant you can sit around the hot iron griddle (teppan) while the food is cooked in front of you. Some restaurants have dining tables equipped with these hot plates and customers order the ingredients, mix and cook the okonomiyaki themselves. This is usually a lot of fun and many different types of okonomiyaki can be ordered and tried.
Okonomiyaki is mainly associated with the Kansai and Hiroshima areas of Japan, but is popular all over the country with toppings and batters varying according to each region. In Osaka where okonomiyaki is believed to have originated from, it is often called “Osaka Soul Food”.
Hiroshima style okonomiyaki (above) is a variety where the ingredients are sandwiched between the batter rather than mixed together. The batter is cooked like a thin pancake and the ingredients cooked separately before being placed on the pancake. The okonomiyaki is served on top of yakisoba noodles and sometimes served with a fried egg.
I highly recommend Okonomiyaki as a must try Japanese dish when in Japan. Okonomiyaki is also a popular dish to make at home with the whole family.
Step by step guide to making Japanese Okonomiyaki.
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp tomato sauce
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 50g self raising flour
- ¼ cup milk
- ¼ cup dashi
- a pinch of salt
- 1 egg
- 1 spring onion, chopped
- 1 cup thinly chopped cabbage
- 2 king prawns and/or thinly sliced pork
Toppings (if desired)
- Aonori (green-seaweed) flakes
- Dried bonito flakes
- Japanese mayonnaise
- To make Okonomi-yaki Sauce, mix ingredients together in bowl.
- Place flour, milk, dashi and salt in a bowl and lightly stir.
- Break an egg into the mixture and stir to combine.
- Add spring onion and cabbage and mix.
- Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and swirl some oil over base.
- Drop the egg mixture into the pan. Top with king prawns and/or pork.
- Cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Turn over and cook for about 4-5 minutes until cooked through.
- Brush the top with okonomi-yaki sauce, and if desired sprinkle with aonori and bonito flakes.
- Serve with Japanese mayonnaise.
– You can buy already prepared okonomi-yaki sauce at most Asian Supermarkets.
– Other kinds of seafood and meat can be added to this dish and cheese is also a great addition.