I was first introduced to this dish when my husband and I went on a trip to Japan. Before this trip my husband wasn’t much of a Japanese food eater this was 9 years ago, now we enjoy almost every week. We were also interested in the historic culture Japan so proudly exuded. The friendliness and politeness of the locals made our way around the predominantly non english speaking, ever so populated country much easier and enjoyable. Yet another reason we fell in love with Japan. The popularity of western food has become evident though with fast food chains opening up in many suburbs over the past 20 years of the major cities of Tokyo and Osaka. Full of the youngsters of the next generation eager to adapt to the western way of life, all awhile we go there for more of the authentic way of life.
During this trip we tried many firsts, raw sashimi, tea ceremony, charcoal bbq and this savoury dish Okonomiyaki. Which if you have never heard of it before is basically a savoury cabbage pancake with veggies. You can add your choice of cooked meat or seafood such as prawns, then top with kewpie (Japanese mayonnaise) Okonomiyaki bbq sauce, sesame seeds, green onions, shredded nori (seaweed) and pickled ginger.
Sounds like a strange mix doesn’t it, but let me tell you it is so tasty and quite healthy too. Cabbage is a fantastic health food with many essential vitamins also a source of protein for vegetarians. The toppings is what makes this interesting from just a savoury cabbage pancake with the sweet and creamy flavours it all just works together. Serve with a side of edamame beans or some veggie gyoza (japanese dumplings) or quite filling on its own and you have a Japanese dinner straight from the streets of Osaka.
Okonomiyaki ( Japanese Savoury Pancake)
1 3/4 cups spelt flour (or mix of buckwheat and rice flour for GF option)
1/3 cup cornflour
1 1/2 cup water
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 small cabbage shredded (500g)
1 carrot grated
2 green onions sliced plus extra for topping
2 tbs sesame oil
1 tbs seseame seeds
kewpie mayonnaise (japanese mayo)
okonomiyaki bbq sauce
1 nori sheet finely sliced
pickled ginger (optional)
- Preheat oven to 120’C
- Whisk together in a large bowl flours, eggs, water mixed with soy sauce to make a batter. Let it sit for 10-15 mins.
- Meanwhile prepare vegetables and mix well through the batter
- Heat 2 tsp sesame oil in a small frypan, add 1/4 cup of the batter, pressing the mixture into the pan.
- Cook for 4-5 mins each side until browned and crunchy. Transfer to a lined baking tray and keep warm in the oven while repeating process with remaining batter. Should make 4 individual pancakes
- Top pancake with mayo, okonomiyaki sauce, extra sliced green onions, sesame seeds, nori, and (optional) pickled ginger
Note- If adding a cooked meat or seafood add this to the batter in step 3