Okonomiyaki

published Feb 15, 2022
Okonomiyaki Recipe

This Japanese-style cabbage pancake is made with cabbage, carrots, scallions, and eggs.

Serves2-4

Prep15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook19 minutes to 23 minutes

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okonomiyaki
Credit: Photo: Jason Rampe; Food Styling: Amelia Rampe

Okonomiyaki is a savory Japanese cabbage pancake that has its origins in Osaka street food. It usually consists of shredded cabbage, yam, eggs, flour, and dashi (bonito stock). The pancake is griddled until golden-brown, then finished with a combination of toppings.

Okonomo translates to “how you like” or “preference,” and “yaki” translates to “grilled.” There are many versions of okonomiyaki depending on where you are in Japan. For example, the Osaka version traditionally includes pork belly that’s griddled right into the pancake, while the Hiroshima style is a thin, crepe-like pancake that is served on top of yakisoba noodles. And then there’s my version: the Bodega-style okonomiyaki.

I started making okonomiyaki at a time in my life when I needed to make a dollar stretch. Cabbage, carrots, scallions, eggs, and flour are inexpensive items that I could easily source at my local bodega. Those ingredients became the base of this recipe. Keeping hondashi (in my pantry, rather than needing to make it from scratch or defrost frozen dashi) helped me make this dish any night of the week. I still make it for my family because they love it and it so easy to make any night of the week.

This recipe strays from the Osaka version in a few ways. For example, because I live in a mostly pescatarian household, I omit the pork belly. It is by no means meant to be “better” or an “upgrade” to the original, but rather a riff on it that’s easy to make at home.

Credit: Photo: Jason Rampe; Food Styling: Amelia Rampe

Okonomiyaki Toppings

Just like the pancake ingredients, okonomiyaki toppings vary as well. When I was in Tokyo, I went in search of okonomiyaki. I was eager to try the pancake I’d been making for years in the place of its origin. The version I ordered had several types of seafood, including squid and octopus. It came out sizzling and covered with large dollops of Japanese mayo, fried eggs, and a generous dusting of katsuobushi (bonito flakes).

Credit: Amelia Rampe
Okonomiyaki from Tokyo

I included a homemade mayo recipe because I’m allergic to Kewpie’s soybean oil base, but if you aren’t allergic and can source it, I recommend using it. As for the okonomi sauce, my recipe stays true to the original ingredients: ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and oyster sauce. Some recipes call for a little sugar, which you can add if you want. To create the fun decorative topping, you’ll need to transfer the sauces into small squeeze bottles, then drizzle on top of the pancake. No squeeze bottles? No problem! Use a spoon to dollop the sauce over the okonomiyaki.

After I add the sauce, I sprinkle on nori furikake, then top the entire surface of the pancake with a generous amount of katsuobushi. The bonito flakes will dance on top of the hot pancake, adding a little drama — and a gentle smoky flavor — to the finished dish.

Okonomiyaki Recipe

This Japanese-style cabbage pancake is made with cabbage, carrots, scallions, and eggs.

Prep time 15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook time 19 minutes to 23 minutes

Serves 2-4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the pancake:

  • 1/2

    medium green cabbage (about 1 pound)

  • 2

    medium carrots (about 6 ounces total)

  • 4

    medium scallions

  • 1/2 cup

    water

  • 1 tablespoon

    hondashi

  • 2

    large eggs

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt

  • 1 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 2 tablespoons

    toasted sesame oil

For the sauce:

  • 1/3 cup

    ketchup

  • 1 tablespoon

    Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 tablespoon

    oyster sauce

For the seasoned mayonnaise and garnish:

Instructions

Make the pancake:

  1. Prepare the following ingredients, adding each to the same large bowl as you complete it: Cut 1/2 medium cabbage in half and cut out the core. Very thinly slice the cabbage until you have about 4 packed cups. Peel 2 medium carrots and grate on the large holes of a box grater (1 1/2 cups). Thinly slice 4 medium scallions, then reserve 2 tablespoons of the dark green parts for garnish and add the remaining scallions to the cabbage mixture. Toss to combine.

  2. Place 1/2 cup water and 1 tablespoon hondashi in a liquid measuring cup or medium bowl and whisk to combine. Add 2 large eggs and 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, and whisk to combine. Pour over the cabbage mixture and toss to combine.

  3. While stirring constantly, slowly sprinkle in 1 cup all-purpose flour and toss until all the flour is absorbed and the cabbage mixture is evenly coated. Set aside to rest for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat.

  4. Add 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil to the pan and swirl the pan to coat. Using tongs, add the cabbage mixture to the pan and scrape in any residual batter, then spread into an even layer. Cover and cook until deep golden-brown on the bottom, 8 to 10 minutes (check by using a spatula to lift up and look under a section).

  5. Shake the skillet to loosen the pancake. Uncover and slide the pancake onto a large plate browned-side down. Carefully invert the skillet over the plate. Using oven mitts, place one hand under the plate and the other hand on the bottom of the skillet, then flip both together in one motion to return the pancake to the skillet. Continue to cook over medium heat until the second side is deep golden-brown and the vegetables in the center are cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes more. Meanwhile, make the sauce and seasoned mayonnaise.

Make the sauce:

  1. Place 1/3 cup ketchup, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, and 1 tablespoon oyster sauce in a small bowl and whisk to combine.

Make the seasoned mayonnaise:

  1. Place 1/3 cup mayonnaise and 1 tablespoon rice vinegar in a second small bowl and whisk to combine.

  2. When the okonomiyaki is ready, slide it onto a serving plate. Dollop the sauce and seasoned mayonnaise over the top. Sprinkle generously with furikake and the reserved scallion greens. Cover the entire surface with a generous amount of katsuobushi. Cut into wedges and serve.