Japanese Home Cooking: Okonomiyaki Pancakes
Elisa Gennari tries her hand at making homemade okonomiyaki – Japanese savoury pancakes.
By Elisa Gennari
When I first stumbled upon Okonomiyaki I thought it was a greasy heavy and messy food, I couldn’t imagine how such different ingredients could blend together without covering each other. Then I was told it was a really healthy food, so one night I faced my prejudices and, at the top floor of Kyoto station mall, I decided it was the right time to try it.
The restaurant was amazing, everyone could see what was happening in the kitchen and each table had a large hotplate to keep the okonomiyaki warm. I ordered it and it was absolutely delicious. I imagined I was about to eat a huge mix of flavours packed in a soggy pancake. I couldn’t be more wrong.
Starting from the smell.. it was yummy and mouthwatering, it was covered with a thick sauce similar to tonkatsu (a sort of fruity ketchup – each restaurant has its own) and then topped with a little mayonnaise, aonori (dried seaweed) and bonito flakes. The outside was crispy while the inside was juicy and fluffy and, most of all, it was not at all greasy or heavy.
If you think that pork belly, mayonnaise and eggs can turn this dish into a liver-killer, I assure you it’s nothing of that kind, actually this is a really healthy dish, low in calories and rich in nutrients. The word okonomi-yaki literally means “your favourite – cooked” so it means that you can use whatever you like to prepare this dish, so you can also choose the amount of calories and fats.
Around Japan you will find countless recipes made mainly with local ingredients, from oysters to noodles. The basic dough is made with cabbage, and cabbage is known to help our health in many ways (is mostly known to be really active in cancer prevention), then you can add whatever you like and try to develop your own okonomiyaki recipes.
Now let’s go prepare a great okonomiyaki.
Japanese home cooking: Okonomiyaki
Author: Elisa Gennari
Recipe Type: Main
- 100g all purpose flour
- 140ml dashi stock (you can find it in asian grocery stores)
- ¼ baking powder
- 200g cabbage
- 50g boiled octopus
- 8 shrimps
- Tenkasu (little beads of tempura fried batter – optional)
- Beni Shoga (pickled ginger)
- 2 eggs
- 100g slices pork belly
- Sift the flour into a bowl with the baking powder and mix. Add some dashi alittle at a time until you get a silky batter. Add a pinch of salt and mix.
- Wash the cabbage leaves and cut them into 7mm strips, chop finely the spring onion and the pickled ginger add the vegetables to the batter.
- Slice the boiled octopus and the shrimps and add them to the batter.
- Add the eggs and the tenkasu (this is optional, it’s not easy to find it everywhere).
- Mix the batter until the ingredients are evenly blended. Do not overmix the batter, otherwise the okonomiyaki will become gummy.
- Heat an electric griddle or a large non-stick pan (about 35cm), grease it with a teaspoon of oil and remove the eccess with a kitchen paper. (you can also prepare 2 smaller okonomiyaki in a smaller pan)
- When the pan is hot pour half of the dough and flatten it with a tablespoon. It should be about 1,5/2cm thick.
- Lay half of the pork belly slices onto it, to completely cover the surface of the pancake. Sperad a little dough over the pork. Cover with a lid and cook for 7 minutes.
- Flip over the pancake with the help of a flat lid, and cook for other 5 minutes
- Serve on a plate and cover with tonkatsu sauce, mayonnaise, aonori, bonito flakes and finely chopped spring onions.
Originally Published: September 19, 2012