Okonomiyaki is a Japanese snack or street food dish that can be varied widely. It most resembles a filled, savoury pancake with umami-like flavours. You can easily make this a vegetarian dish, but traditionally it is filled with bacon, shrimp or squid. In addition, the filling consists of finely chopped cabbage and spring onion.
It’s the topping that makes okonomiyaki so instagrammable. Here too you can vary a lot yourself. It should have dashes of okonomiyaki sauce and (Japanese kewpie) mayonnaise on it, other than that it’s entirely up to you. Think of furikake, spring onion, pieces of nori, pickled ginger and of course some of the garnish with which the okonomiyaki is filled.
What definitely belongs on top of it is katsuobushi. This is very thinly sliced, dried bonito flakes. Not only does it impart a savoury flavour, but the warmth of the pancake makes the flakes seem like they’re dancing on your okonomiyaki. Obviously it is no longer vegetarian.
Use the recipe below as your base, but experiment with it. Instead of dashi you can use another broth, for example mushroom broth to make it vegetarian. The bacon can be replaced with shrimp, squid or mushrooms.
Okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake)
- 2 dl dashi or other broth
- 200 gr wheat flour
- 4 large eggs
- ¼ tsp shichimi togarashi or ¼ finely chopped red pepper
- 250 gr Chinese cabbage finely chopped
- 2 stalks spring onion
- 4 slices bacon smoked (other garnish of your choice)
- 4 tsp Japanese mayonnaise
- 2 tbsp okonomiyaki sauce heaping tablespoons
- 1 tsp furikake
- ½ sheet nori
- 2 tbsp katsuobushi
- splash sunflower oil
- pinch salt
- Stir the wheat flour with the dashi in a bowl until lump-free.
- In another bowl, beat the eggs with the shichimi togarashi until slightly foamy, then gradually stir in the flour mixture. This should be the thickness of pancake batter. If it is too thin, add some extra wheat flour. If it is too thick, add some extra dashi or broth.
- Cut the smoked bacon into thin strips. Cut the spring onion into fine rings.
- Add the thinly sliced cabbage, bacon and spring onion to the pancake batter, keep a little bit as a garnish. Season with a pinch of salt if necessary.
- Heat a small dash of sunflower oil in a non-stick pan. Make sure the heat is not too high.
- Stir the batter well once more to make sure that the garnish is well mixed in and scoop a large spoonful into the pan. There should be about an inch of batter in the pan. Move the pan a few times to evenly distribute the batter and to make sure that the okonomiyaki is nicely rounded.
- Cook at medium heat until it starts to set and the bottom is lightly browned. Carefully flip with a spatula or plate, just as you do with pancakes.
- Cook the other side the same way until set and golden brown. Bake 4 pancakes this way or make a larger one to share.
- Arrange on a plate and add the desired toppings on top of it. In this case, that is the withheld cabbage and spring onion, strips of nori, furikake and strips of mayonnaise and okonomiyaki sauce.
- Finally, top with the bonito flakes and serve immediately.