Okonomiyaki is a savoury pancake based on lettuce, eggs and flour. The version we eat nowadays was developed during the Second World War when, due to the scarcity of rice, Japanese people had to get creative food-wise (which they are still being by baking Kit Kats and creating Water Cakes). It was also considered a “low-class” dish but is today commonly found at food stands during Japanese Summer Festivals – also called Omatsuri.
Okonomiyaki literally means “what you want grilled”, which gives you a pretty good idea of what you can put on it: an-y-thing *angel chorus*. The most important part of Okonomiyaki is the brown Okonomiyaki sauce, Katsuoboshi (shaved Bonito flakes), Aonori (powdered seaweed) and Mayonnaise. But do not despair if you don’t have any of these sauces, you can easily substitute them for brown sauce and mayo.
Finally, there are two main ways of making them:
Instead of mixing all the ingredients, you make a pancake to which then you add different layers of veggies (but mostly cabbage). In this version of the Okonomiyaki, people usually add fried noodles on top – I know, it only gets better.
You basically mix all the ingredients together and then cook it as a pancake with the bacon on top. This is the pancake The Japan Society of St Andrews focused on during their cooking workshop, and which I will be describing.
Okonomiyaki: The Ultimate Japanese Pancake
- Prep Time:10 minutes
- Cook Time:10 minutes
- Total Time:20 minutes
- Servings:Four pancakes
- Half a green cabbage
- 4 Eggs
- 1/2 cup Flour
- 1/2 cup Water
- Handful of green onions
Mix the water and the flour, there should always be an equal amount of both.
Dice the cabbage and add into the water and flour mix. Add the eggs and mix.
When the batter looks like this, add the spring onions and anything your tummy is craving (shrimps, sweetcorn, etc…). Hold the bacon as we’ll add it on top of the batter while it’s cooking. If you’re adding tofu, remember to add some flour as the batter might become too watery.
Heat up some oil in a pan and make a 2cm thick round pancake with the batter. Add your bacon on top (not on the bottom like I did, otherwise you’ll get a crumbling mess).
Remember to move it around so that it doesn’t stick to the pan. After about 4 minutes flip it until the bacon on the bottom becomes crispy. Flip it again and wait until you get a brownish-golden colour (depending on how you like it).
Add your Okonomiyaki sauce, Mayonnaise, Katsuoboshi and Aonori and ta-da ! You’ve just made your first (of many) Okonomiyakis.
Voila! There you have it. Wasn’t that hard, right?