Japanese Okonomiyaki Recipe and Fun Facts

Do you know the famous Japanese dish called Okonomiyaki? In this article, we will see some curiosities and a recipe for this famous Japanese pancake or crepe.

Okonomiyaki [お好み焼き], are savory Japanese pancakes stuffed with meat, seafood, and vegetables. They can be topped with mayonnaise, Katsuobushi, Nori, pickled ginger and a sauce similar to Tonkatsu (breaded pork chop) sauce.

Okonomiyaki dough is made with flour, vegetable broth or Dashi, eggs and shredded cabbage. It's topped with scallions, onions, beef, bacon, cheese, octopus, squid, shrimp, veggies, mochi and whatever you want.

Finally, a small line of mayonnaise covers the entire Japanese pancake. The order of the layers can vary depending on the cook's style and preference, and the ingredients can also vary depending on the customer's preference.

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Okonomiyaki - Japanese pancake - trivia and recipe

The Origin of Okonomiyaki

The word Okonomiyaki literally means “what you want fried”. The word Yaki (焼き) means grilled or fried, while the word okonomi (お好み) means what you want, desire or like.

We can even notice the presence of the ideogram (好) that means like and love. It got its name because there are no limits to its recipe, you can fill it with whatever 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 steeped in miso, but that tradition died out in the late Edo period.

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Okonomiyaki - Japanese pancake - trivia and recipe

After Funoyaki came Mojiyaki and several other variants. It wasn't until 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, in the city of Kyoto, the Issen Yoshoku was popularized, another possible predecessor of the Okonomiyaki that was stuffed with Worcestershire sauce and chopped chives.

Curiosities and types of Okonomiyaki

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. In Kyoto, Okonomiyaki is usually made with a darker green.

Okonomiyaki - Japanese pancake - trivia and recipe

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

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 like 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 - trivia and recipe

Other types of okonomiyaki are:

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

Okonomiyaki recipe

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

  • 150g of carrots;
  • 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 the okonomiyaki sauce:

  • 250 ml of soy sauce;
  • 50 ml of Worcestershire sauce;
  • 130g of tomato paste;
  • Black pepper to taste;
  • 8 level 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)
  • Bacon chopped or in strips;
  • Mochi (optional);
  • cheese (optional);

How to make:

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

To understand better, we recommend watching the videos;

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Video preparation method

Below are some videos that show how to prepare:

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