It doesn’t get much better than a dish called “what you like, grilled.” How can you lose with a name like that? Okonomiyaki is sometimes translated as “Japanese pizza,” but there’s nothing pizza-y about it. To me, okonomiyaki is more like a big savory pancake of awesome with mayonnaise on top, but even that description doesn’t do the dish justice. Okonomiyaki is something that really needs to be tasted to fully understand. What can be said about it is that it is made of a batter with vegetables and meat. Osaka and Hiroshima are the most well known areas in Japan for Okonomiyaki, both claiming fame to a unique style of the dish. However, you can find okonomiyaki at many restaurants throughout Japan.
As the name implies, there really is no limit to what you can throw in this Japanese dish and it’s actually quite simple to make. Here’s what you need:
1 – bag of okonomiyaki mix (if you don’t live in Japan and don’t have access to a Japanese food store, check out Kanako’s Kitchen. She has a wonderful recipe for okonomiyaki, made from scratch…it sounds much tastier than ours).
1 – egg
1 – 75ml cup of water
1 – splash of beer (around 25ml)
1 – cabbage
1 – what you like
Combine 100 grams of okonomiyaki mix, 1 egg, beer, and water. Mix well. If you’re wondering about the beer, Khoa’s mom used to put beer in her banh xeo (vietnamese savory crepe) batter, so he does the same with his okonomiyaki batter. Next, add about a quarter of a cabbage (sliced thin) to the batter.
For the “what you like” part, Khoa likes to add about a cup and a half of frozen mixed veggies (thawed) to the prepared batter. He then sautes onions in a pan with a bit of olive oil. Once the onions start to barely turn translucent, he pours the batter (cabbage and mixed veggies included) into the pan. Now it’s just a matter of waiting for the batter to cook, flip, and wait a bit longer. Khoa also sometimes puts fried onions into the batter for an extra crunchy surprise.
To finish off your “Japanese pizza,” drizzle on some mayonnaise and okonomi sauce (a thicker, sweeter version of worcestershire sauce). Most okonomiyaki’s have some kind of meat in them, usually pork, squid, or shrimp. Even though we love our meat, Khoa’s version of okonomiyaki, sans meaty goodness, is really delicious, not to mention very easy to throw together. It’s also much cheaper without meat which we can buy 200g of at the general store for 400 yen. Yikes!
Embracing the “what you like, grilled” name, Khoa’s version is far from anything we’ve seen in any Japanese restaurant. We may even be angering a few of the die-hard okonomiyaki chefs in Osaka or Hiroshima. But to me, okonomiyaki is simply a dish meant to be made up of “what you like,” regardless of what “should” be in it.
Try it at home! Let us know what you think.