Okonomiyaki (Savory Japanese pancakes)

(This is originally based on a recipe from Just One Cookbook.)

Okonomiyaki is a savory Japanese pancake made with cabbage, and filled with a variety of ingredients (the name literally means "what you like"), traditionally topped with okonomi sauce and Japanese mayo. In my case, I had some leftover chicken so I used that, but you can also use squid, shrimp, pork belly, or anything else you have on hand.

This is a fairly ambitious recipe that uses a large number of specialty Japanese ingredients, but you can find all of them at your local Japanese supermarket.

Note that Japanese mayo (commonly Kewpie brand) is typically a bit creamier and sweeter than American mayo, and contains MSG for delicious umami goodness. If you don't have any on hand, I would definitely not substitute American mayo in its place.

The battlestation.

While cooking, I was worried that I had too much cabbage (1 finely sliced cabbage is a LOT of cabbage) with not enough batter and it wouldn't hold together. In the end I was pleasantly surprised, you just need to have patience and give it time to crisp up and stick into a pancake.

I found this made enough for 4 - 5 pancakes.

Ingredients

1 whole regular cabbage (not napa)

1 cup shredded cooked chicken

For the batter:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp baking powder

2 inch segment of Nagaimo (Chinese yam)

3/4 cup of dashi

4 eggs

1/2 cup tenkasu (tempura scraps)

1/4 cup beni shoga (pickled red ginger)

Toppings/garnishes:

Okonomi sauce

Japanese mayo

Green onions

Katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)

Furikake (dried chopped seaweed with sesame seeds)

Beni shoga (pickled red ginger)

Directions

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder.
  2. Peel the nagaimo, grate into the bowl, and add in the dashi. Whisk to combine.
  3. Cut the cabbage in half, remove the core from each half, and very finely slice.
  4. Crack the eggs into the bowl and add the tenkasu and beni shoga, stirring to combine well.
  5. Add the cabbage and chicken into the bowl; stir to combine well.
  6. Heat oil in a nonstick frying pan until the oil is hot; you want to hear a sizzle when you add the batter mixture.
  7. Scoop a ladle-sized chunk of the mixed batter into the pan. Don't worry about trying to make it too flat, just use your spatula to gently push the edges in occasionally.
  8. Cook covered for 5 minutes, or until the bottom is brown and crispy.
  9. Flip the pancake and cook covered for another five minutes.
  10. Transfer the pancake to a plate. Top with a zigzag of okonomi sauce and Japanese mayo, then slice and add the green onions, a few pieces of katsuobushi, beni shoga, and a pinch of furikake.

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