Okonomiyaki – Japanese Pancake – Curiosities and recipe

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Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き), are savory Japanese pancakes stuffed with meat, seafood and vegetables. They can be topped with mayonnaise, katsuobushi, nori, ginger pickles and a sauce similar to tonkatsu (breaded pork chop). In this article, we will see some curiosities and a recipe for this famous pancake or Japanese crepe.

Okonomiyaki dough is made with flour, vegetable broth or dashi, eggs and chopped cabbage. It is covered with chives, onions, meat, bacon, cheese, octopus, squid, shrimp, vegetables, mochi and whatever you want. To finish a small line of mayonnaise covers the entire Japanese pancake. The order of the layers can vary depending on the style and preference of the cook, and the ingredients can also vary depending on the preference of the customer.

Okonomiyaki - Japanese pancake - curiosities and recipe

The origin of Okonomiyaki

The word okonomiyaki literally means “what do you want fried ”. The word yaki (焼き) means grilled or fried, while the word okonomi (お好み) means what you want or like. We can even notice the presence of the ideogram (好) which means to like and love. It got its name because there are no limits on its recipe, you can fill it with what you like or want.

A researcher named Tekishu Motoyama says the Japanese crepe may have been derived from funoyaki dough, a remote wheat dough from the 16th century. It was created by Sennotikyuu, where he mixed water, sake and flour to make a flattened dough. This recipe was immersed in miso, but that tradition disappeared at the end of the Edo period.

Okonomiyaki - Japanese pancake - curiosities and recipe

After the funoyaki came Mojiyaki and several other variants. It was only after the great Kanto earthquake in 1923 that people started cooking these crepes, which soon became popular and became the phenomenon known as okonomiyaki. Around 1912 in the Taisho Era, the city of Kyoto became popular issen yoshoku, another possible predecessor of okonomiyaki that was stuffed with Worcestershire sauce and chopped chives.

Okonomiyaki curiosities and types

Okonomiyaki are the pride of Osaka. Any informed tourist visiting Osaka goes straight to Dotonbori Street to eat okonomiyaki. In Osaka, the dish is also called butatama. Already in Kyoto, okonomiyaki is usually made with a darker green.

Okonomiyaki - Japanese pancake - curiosities and recipe

In Hiroshima, okonomiyaki are considerably more difficult to prepare. The ingredients are always more cut than mixed. The layers are typically made with cabbage, bacon and optional items (squid, octopus, cheese, etc.), there are even versions with yakissoba and fried egg.

The monjayaki is popular in Tokyo, their difference is that they are more consistent. The result is a crispy pancake with a burnt cheese texture. While okonomiyaki is a pancake for one person, monjayaki is prepared as a giant pancake for a table.

In Okinawa, okonomiyaki are called Hirayachi. They are thinner and prepared at home. It is not typically sold in restaurants.

Okonomiyaki - Japanese pancake - curiosities and recipe

Other types of okonomiyaki are:

  • Negiyaki - A thin pancake filled with Negi. (Type of onion)
  • Modanyaki - An okonomiyaki with a bottom layer of fried noodles (yakisoba or yakiudon);
  • Okonomiyaki of Matsuri - They are sold at festivals and events, they are made in large quantities, they usually have standard ingredients such as bacon and cabbage;
  • Hashimaki - A version wrapped around a chopstick;
Okonomiyaki - Japanese pancake - curiosities and recipe

Okonomiyaki recipe

This recipe is very varied and can be made in different ways and with different ingredients. The most common dough has the following ingredients:

  • 150g of carrot;
  • 150g of cabbage or more;
  • 200g of curd;
  • 3 eggs;
  • 15g or a spoon of salt;
  • 50g of butter;
  • 200g of wheat flour;
  • Water;
  • Chives to taste;

In case you need to make okonomiyaki sauce: 

  • 250 ml of soy sauce;
  • 50 ml of Worcestershire sauce;
  • 130g of tomato extract;
  • Black pepper to taste;
  • 8 shallow tablespoons of sugar;

To make the sauce just mix the ingredients and boil them in a pan until it thickens. You can also use tonkatsu sauce or invent your own derivative and use other ingredients;

Topping ingredients: 

  • Okonomiyaki sauce;
  • Mayonnaise;
  • Nori (seaweed) cut into thin strips;
  • Katsuobushi (dehydrated and grated fish);
  • Seafood (optional)
  • Chopped bacon or strips;
  • Mochi (optional);
  • cheese (optional);

How to make: 

  1. Mix the flour, water, eggs and salt;
  2. Then mix the carrot, cabbage and chopped onion;
  3. Pour the dough into a skillet with oil, spreading it in a pizza shape;
  4. After starting to grill, put some stuffing like bacon and turn the dough;
  5. Put the sauce;
  6. Then add other toppings like chives, cheese, katsuobushi, ginger and others;
  7. Make your art with mayonnaise and help yourself;

To better understand we recommend watching the videos;

How to prepare videos

Let's leave some videos below that shows how to prepare:

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