Recipe: Okonomiyaki

January 26, 2018

After reading a random article, watching a video or two, and reading more about American adaptations of this dish, I decided to take a crack at making it myself.

In short, okonomiyaki is a savory pancake concept that originated in Japan. In the city of Osaka, it's known as soul food. Its crispy outside and creamy inside also make it classifiable as comfort food. It's relatively inexpensive to make, and the personalized variations on the recipe are endless.

Ingredients

  • Cabbage: A single head of cabbage can go a long way for making okonomiyaki.
  • Green vegetable: This should be conducive to dicing. Good examples are green onions and baby spinach.
  • Protein: Plenty of options here: bacon or bacon bits, shrimp, chicken, turkey, fried egg, whatever you like. Basically, anything you might put in an omelette.
  • Eggs: Using this recipe, one egg is used to make either two pancakes about the size of a big single fried egg or one fairly large pancake. The egg acts as a binding agent to make the pancake cohesive.
  • Stock: This is used in place of the water or milk you'd normally use in pancakes, to help enhance the flavor. I've used seafood and chicken successfully, but beef or other types may work as well.
  • Pancake mix: I use Bisquick, but you can use any other box mix, or make your own from flour and baking soda if you prefer.
  • Oil or butter: This keeps the pancake from sticking to the pan. I tend to use olive oil, but any vegetable oil or butter will work.
  • Condiments: The sky is the limit here. The ones I commonly use are any flavor of ketchup, mustard (Dijon, honey, spicy), or mayonnaise; barbeque, hoison, tonkatsu, okonomiyaki, or peanut sauce; or honey or syrup.

If you'd like to make your own okonomiyaki sauce, here are some ingredients I've used to do it with a fair amount of success:

  • ketchup
  • honey
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • soy sauce
  • Dijon mustard
  • garlic powder

Equipment

  • Frying pan: I use a smaller pan for this, one that I normally use for frying individual eggs, to make smaller pancakes. You'll want something bigger if you want your pancakes on the larger side.
  • Spatula: I only need one, but some people prefer to use two. Depending on your pan size, you may want to use a large single spatula.
  • Measuring cup: Standard single cup is fine, ideally one with markings for both cups and liters.
  • Mixing bowl: We'll use this to hold the batter before moving it to the frying pan.
  • Prep bowls: These will hold the prepped cabbage, green vegetable, and protein until you're ready to use them.
  • Whisk or fork: I really like using a push-down whisk.
  • Knife: I tend to use a chef's knife. Couldn't tell you whether that's the proper knife for the task, but it works.
  • Cutting board: One on the larger side, if possible.

Directions

  1. Using the knife and cutting board, core the cabbage, peel off a layer or two of the outer leaves, and chop them into long thin strips. In the end, their consistency should be similar to angel hair coleslaw. Place the cabbage into one of the prep bowls.
  2. Dice the green vegetable and protein and place them into the remaining prep bowls.
  3. Crack an egg into the measuring cup, fill it up to 150 ml or about 5/8 cups with stock, and mix well with the whisk.
  4. For smaller pancakes, pour half of the egg-stock mixture into the mixing bowl; for a larger pancake, use all of the mixture.
  5. Add Bisquick to the mixing bowl, and mix well with the whisk.
  6. Add diced greens and protein to the mixing bowl, and mix well with the whisk.
  7. Top the mixing bowl contents with the chopped cabbage and press it down with the whisk so it's absorbed into the batter.
  8. Put the frying pan over medium-low heat and add the oil or butter to grease it.
  9. Pour the mixing bowl contents into the frying pan, pressing down with the spatula to form the pancake.
  10. Once the pancake solidifies, use the spatula to flip it.
  11. Slide the pancake out of the frying pan and onto a plate, top with condiments, and serve.
  12. If you're cooking smaller pancakes, repeat steps 4-11 with the other half of the egg-stock mixture to make the second pancake.