Ten years ago my husband and I took a trip to Japan, and it was there that we discovered okonomiyaki. Okonomiyaki is a Japanese pancake made of shredded cabbage and meat in a flour-egg batter, and often contains additional ingredients for extra flavors and textures. The restaurant we went to was in a tiny little town and was listed as a “hidden gem” in our travel guide, and it definitely spoiled us for all other iterations of okonomiyaki on our trip (because of course, having had it once we were dying to have it again!). The ingredients came in separate bowls that you combined to your own taste, and there were personal grills right at the table to cook the pancakes, which were served with pickled ginger, bonito flakes, and okonomiyaki sauce for garnish.
Oddly, despite searching for similar restaurants here in the States, we never thought of trying to recreate the recipe at home. However, I was in a local Asian market recently when I spied a bottle of okonomiyaki sauce (a tangy, savory sauce that’s kind of like a mixture of ketchup and Worcestershire sauce), and was inspired to try my own version of these!
I didn’t really follow a recipe so much as throw things together, figuring that as long as I had cabbage, pancake batter, and some form of protein I’d be fine. The finished pancakes were quick, easy, and extremely filling, and they instantly brought me back to our trip to Japan! It’s definitely the okonomiyaki sauce that gives it that authentic flavor, so do your best to find it!
(makes 6 large or 10 small pancakes)
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups dashi or chicken broth
1/2 lb. diced chicken or shrimp
2 large carrots, shredded
1/2 head green cabbage, shredded
4 green onions, sliced
1 tsp. salt
Vegetable oil for frying
Sesame oil (optional)
Nori strips or furikake
Pickled ginger (not the sweet kind)
1. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and stir in milk and broth to make a batter.
2. Beat in eggs and add chopped chicken or shrimp.
3. Stir in cabbage, carrots, and green onions.
4. Heat 2 tbs. of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat and add a dash of sesame oil (optional). Spoon your desired amount of batter into the hot skillet and spread to about 1/2″ thick. Cook on both sides until browned and your protein is cooked through.
5. Serve with okonomiyaki sauce, furikake, and pickled ginger. These are often also served with a drizzle of mayonnaise, but I’m not a fan personally so I left it out.
Note: You can feel free to include any other vegetables you like. Bean sprouts might be nice, or shredded zucchini that’s been drained. I’ve seen recipes that also used mushrooms and onions, so it’s a pretty versatile recipe.