Okonomiyaki (savoury cabbage pancake)

Okonomiyaki  (‘grilled as you like it’) is a Japanese shredded cabbage-based pancake. From its name suggests, okonomiyaki is a flexible dish that made with flour, shredded cabbage, egg, meat/ seafood and topped with variety of condiments like okonomiyaki sauce, Japanese mayonnaise, dried seaweed, and dried bonito flakes. You can add any ingredients come down to what’s at hand. Thin strips of pork belly slices is a common choice. Shrimp and octopus are also popular fillings. For myself, adding green onions and pickled red gingers is a must. Some people even adding cheese and rice cakes to boosts the flavour (I never tried it but sounds yumyum).  There are two styles to cook okonomiyaki – “Hiroshima style”, where the plain batter pancake is grilled, then topped with the chosen cooked ingredients such as bean sprouts and Yakisoba noodles (egg noodles), or “Osaka style”, where all the ingredients are mixed into the batter, then cooked like a frittata. The recipe I am going to introduce is Osaka style, which is the most common in Japan’s okonomiyaki bars.

img_7522To create this delicious okonomayaki, there are some key ingredients that are necessary to boots the flavour compared to the ones do not include them.

  • Okonomiyaki Sauce
  • Japanese mayonnaise (slightly different to the Western style mayonnaise)
  • Katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
  • Aonori (dried green seaweed)

All the ingredients are easy to buy from either Amazon or Japanese/ Asian grocery stores.

Tips:

  1. The key ingredient to make the pancake fluffier – Nagaimo 長芋 / Yamaimo 山芋. This is highly recommended ingredient. You can purchase at most Japanese/ Asian grocery stores. Another recommended ingredient to make the batter fluffier is the Tenkasu 天かす (tempura bits/scraps). If you cannot purchase the tenkasu in oriental stores, you can make your own by using the leftover batter. Just drop the batter in hot oil and scoop up when it turns into golden brown colour.
  2. Nagaimo is very slippery. You may experience itch when you touch it with bare hands. I would suggest you to wear gloves to make sure you have a good grip and prevent the itchiness. 
  3. If this is the first time for you to cook the okonomoyaki, spread a smaller and thinner size of batter, so it’s easier to flip.

Ingredients: (Serve 2)

  • 1/2 cup All-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp Kosher salt 
  • 1/8 tsp Granulated sugar 
  • 1/8 tsp Baking powder 
  • inch Nagaimo 
  • 90ml Dashi
  • 400g/ half Large cabbage head
  • 4 Sliced pork belly (other ingredients such as shrimps and squids can be used as well )
  • 2 Eggs
  • 3 tbsp Tempura scraps
  • 4 tbsp Pickled red ginger
  • 4 tbsp Green onion/ scallions
  • Oil

Toppings

  • Okonomiyaki Sauce
  • Japanese mayonnaise
  • Katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
  • Aonori (dried green seaweed)

Directions:

Okonomiyaki batter:

  1. Combine the all-purpose flour, salt, sugar and baking powder in a large bowl and mix all together.
  2. Peel and grate nagaimo in a small bowl. Add the grated nagaimo and dashi in the bowl.
  3. Mix all together till combined.

Start cooking:

  1. Remove the core of the cabbage and mince it. Set aside to let the moisture evaporate to avoid dilute the batter.
  2. Halve the pork belly slices and set aside.
  3. Add the eggs, tempura scraps, green onions and pickled red ginger in the batter. Mix well until well-combined.
  4. Add the minced cabbage into the batter.
  5. Heat oil in a large pan on medium heat. Spread half of the batter in a circle on the pan. The optimum thickness of the okonomiyaki is 2 cm. Thicker okonomiyaki tastes better.
  6. Place 3-4 sliced pork belly on top of Okonomiyaki and cook covered for 5 minutes.
  7. When the bottom is set and browned, flip over.
  8. Gently press the okonomiyaki to re-shape and keep it together. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes.
  9. Flip over one last time and cook uncovered for 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and apply the toppings.
  10. Apply okonomiyaki sauce with brush, then add Japanese mayonnaise. At last, prinkle dried bonito flakes (katsuobushi) and dried green seaweed (aonori).

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