Here is yet another popular Japanese dish for you to try at home: Okonomiyaki!
Although sometimes referred to as ‘Japanese pizza’, it is in fact more similar to a pancake. A batter mixed with shredded or finely chopped cabbage serves as a base, with a wide variety of toppings at your disposal. You really get an idea of all the variations possible when you translate the name: ‘okonomi’ translates to ‘how you like’ or ‘what you like’, and ‘yaki’ means ‘grill’. So let your imagination run wild when choosing ingredients for your own ‘Japanese pizza’!
Okonomiyaki restaurants are more than just a place to go to eat – they are a form of entertainment. Much like raclette, fondue or Korean BBQ, you cook your own meal at the table. Restaurants have special tables with a long electric griddle set into them. You choose your toppings from the menu (beef, pork, seafood, cheese…) and will be served a bowl of batter with the toppings laid on top. Set aside your meat/fish, and mix your batter together. You are ready to get cooking! We had a great time at an Okonomiyaki restaurant with friends. The food was delicious, so we tried to replicate it at home.
Here is my recipe (based on the recipe from JustHungry to get an idea of quantities)
Note: I am not putting quantities as I tend not to measure anything. Use your judgement based on your taste and appetite!
This recipe made one medium sized Okonomiyaki (for me), and one large one for Devin. We demolished the lot.
- 4 inches Yamaimo (mountain potato) – a type of starchy root veg that you should be able to get at your local Asian Supermarket
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour (about 60g)
- 4 tbs dashi (stock)
- 3 eggs
- 2 packed cups shredded or finely chopped cabbage (I used more – it was fine)
- Pickled ginger (we didn’t have any – we used grated fresh ginger, tasted good but didn’t add the pretty pink colour that pickled ginger would)
- Tenkasu (like crispy tempura bits – you can also fry up some of the batter)
- Thin slices of pork belly/bacon/beef or prawns/squid… (optional)
- Grated cheese (optional)
- Chopped spring onion (optional)
- Oil for cooking
- Nori/aonori (really green, powdered seaweed – we just chopped up some regular nori sheets)
- Okonomiyaki sauce or tomkatsu sauce (we only had tomkatsu sauce but it tasted fine!)
- Japanese mayonnaise – use regular if you can’t get any Kewpie
- Peel and grate the yamaimo (some people get a slight allergic reaction to its skin – a bit of a prickle) – it will form a kind of disgusting, sticky, white gloop
- Mix the yamaimo gloop with the flour, dashi, and two of the eggs
- Combine to create a batter
- If you don’t have any crispy bits to hand, drip some of the batter into hot oil, cook until brown, then set aside to cool (this is your tenkasu substitute)
- Add your chopped cabbage to the batter along with the third egg. Mix well
- Once you are satisfied with your batter, add the ginger and crumble in the tenkasu along with the optional ingredients – MINUS THE MEAT OR FISH – we added spring onion, cheese, and enoki mushrooms
- Mix it all up (with a crack of salt and pepper if desired!)
- Heat a small amount of oil in a large frying pan or griddle, wipe a paper towel around the pan to remove excess oil
- Spread 1/3 to 1/2 the mixture to the pan (depending on if you want to make 2 or 3 okonomiyaki)
- Place your meat/fish strips on top of the pancake and cover with a lid for 5-6 minutes
- Small bubbles should form in the mixture and the meat should start to cook
- When you are ready to flip your okonomiyaki, you can be a traditionalist and attempt using two spatulas, or do what we did: slide the okonomiyaki onto a plate (cooked side down) and then flip it back into the pan (uncooked side down) – might be a bit of a cheat’s way, but it kept out beautiful okonomiyaki intact!
- Cook for a further 3-5 minutes then flip onto plate
- Before serving, spreak okonomiyaki or tomkatsu sauce over the surface (generally spread on with a brush), then decorate with mayo and nori. If you are a fan, sprinkle on some katsuobushi (strong dried fish flakes – I can’t stand them)
- Your okonomiyaki is ready to eat! Grab you chopsticks and dig in. Itadakimasu!