The "base" ingredients for okonomiyaki can be found at your local Japanese grocery store or online. You'll need to buy the following:
- Kewpie mayonnaise
- okonomi sauce
- okonomiyaki flour
- nagaimo root - found in most Asian markets, not limited to Japanese groceries.
- shaved bonito (fish flakes)
- shaved green dried seaweed (aonori)
- green cabbage
- pickled red ginger
The word "okonomiyaki" translates to "okonomi" (as you like) and "yaki" (grilled.) So, the choice of filling is basically up to you. Some good combinations are:
- Shrimp, corn, and green onion
- Beef, grilled onions, and kimchi
- Pork, green peas, and bean sprouts
- Seafood combination: octopus, shrimp, & squid
There are two styles of okonomiyaki: Hiroshima and Osaka. We'll discuss Osaka-style here as it's easier for beginners to learn this style first. Hiroshima-style involves using noodles and is a bit more advanced.
Step 1: Add 3/4 cup of okonomiyaki flour to a mixing bowl, and add 2/3 cups of water. Mix well. Add two eggs.
Step 2: Take the nagaimo root and trim off one end. With a sharp knife, peel off the light brown skin. Underneath is a slimy, white flesh. Grate about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of nagaimo into the bowl. Take care not to slip and accidentally grate your knuckles; the nagaimo has a very slimy consistency.
Step 3: Grate about 1 cup of green cabbage. Add this to the bowl. Now, add your fillings of choice and mix well.
Step 4: Heat a large, flat skillet or griddle. Evenly spread 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil on the surface. Take your okonomiyaki batter and spread it in a circle that is about 6 inches across and 3/4 inch thick. You will get several okonomiyaki servings out of your batter, so don't use all the batter at once. Remember, you have to flip this like a pancake, so don't make it so big that your pancake turner can't handle it.
Step 5: Let the okonomiyaki cook on one side on medium heat (350 degrees) for about 7 to 9 minutes. The trick is to not turn it too soon; doing so will break the pancake. By the time you flip it, it should be nicely browned on one side.
Step 6: Flip the okonomiyaki and cook the other side for 7 to 9 minutes. Flip it over and cook for 3 minutes more.
Step 7: Remove the okonomiyaki to a plate and with a pastry brush, brush the brown okonomi sauce over the surface. Take the bottle of Kewpie and squeeze lines of mayonnaise across the surface in a criss-cross pattern; it should look like lattice. Sprinkle about 2 to 3 tablespoons of fish flakes on top and 1 tablespoon of aonori on top. Place a tablespoon of pickled ginger smack dab in the middle.
To eat, cut in wedges and pick up with chopsticks. It's really quite simple! Let us know if you try this, and which filling combinations you decided on.
Healthy Cooking Videos has a nice video showing the technique of making okonomiyaki.
(Image: Kathryn Hill)