Okonomiyaki is best described as a savory pancake. While my boyfriend tends to shy away from that term, I think it’s fairly apt considering it’s basically a simple batter loaded with cabbage and delicious meats. You can find two varieties in Japan, the Osaka-style which is a little bit better for you, and the Hiroshima-style that adds yakisoba to the mix.
My boyfriend spent some time in Osaka as an undergrad and developed a deep love of okonomiyaki. Two years ago I made it my goal to produce the best version of the recipe I could given my complete lack of proper ingredients. The biggest problem is that I don’t live in a city with a large Japanese community. We get a few exchange students from the school Cameron went to in Osaka, but that’s about it. The Asian markets here cater to the Korean and Vietnamese diets over Japanese.
But, luckily enough, the market closest to me started carrying okonomiyaki sauce (which is like a slightly richer-tasting hosin sauce) and basic Japanese ingredients like bonito dashi and dried shrimp.
So, I thought I’d share my favorite recipe with you. I make a few substitutions since okonomiyaki is a delightfully versatile dish, but the following recipe is a good outline if you want to try making it yourself.
Recipe: Okonomiyaki (republished from Just Hungry)
This makes 3 medium or 2 big okonomiyaki. A medium okonomiyaki would feed one person. A big appetite can handle one big okonomiyaki. You can also cut them into slices to serve many as appetizers or beer snacks. Increase the amounts proportionately for more servings.
120g / 4 oz. grated nagaimo, or the equivalent amount of reconstituted yamaimo powder
4 to 5 tablespoons of dashi stock, or water with a pinch of dashi powder
60g / 2 oz all purpose flour, sifted
3 ‘large’ (60g each) eggs
2 to 3 tablespoons of beni shouga
4 tablespoons of tenkasu
About 300g / 10 1/2 oz. (about 2 packed cups) roughly chopped cabbage
6 to 8 thin slices of pork belly
3 tablespoons of chopped green onion (optional)
1 tablespoon of sakura ebi (optional)
Oil for cooking
okonomiyaki sauce or tonkatsu sauce plus optional mayonnaise
a griddle plate or a large non-stick frying pan
a smaller frying pan
a wad of paper towels or cotton wool
a brush for the sauce (optional)
Check out the post on Just Hungry for the preparation.
I substitute the tenkasu for panko. I’ve found that panko adds enough density without making the okonomiyaki too oily. Tenkasu are the crispy bits left over when you make tempura.
I also use potato rather than nagaimo. this is a substitution I unfortunately have to make because of my location. With a very small Japanese population in Arkansas there’s not much need to import this cooking staple. Potatoes work alright, but you can definitely tell the difference.