Okonomiyaki, often hailed as the pride of Japanese street food, tantalises the palate with its unique blend of flavours and textures. This cabbage pancake, a staple in many parts of Japan, brings the streets of Osaka right into your kitchen. With just a few ingredients, you can effortlessly whip up this delectable dish at home and indulge in its authentic taste. So, why not give Okonomiyaki a try and transport your taste buds straight to Japan?
Check out my other recipes for Japanese dishes: Japanese Potato Curry
- Ingredient Flexibility: Missing authentic ingredients? Okonomiyaki adapts easily. Use local substitutes for a close match.
- Clear Instructions: A video guide makes Okonomiyaki easy. Every step, from batter to flip, is covered.
- Embrace Customisation: Okonomiyaki is all about personal flair. Turn any confusion into creative culinary joy.
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The Origins and Evolution of Okonomiyaki
Introduction to Japanese Pancake:
Okonomiyaki, a savoury Japanese pancake, stands as both a beloved street food and a heart-warming comfort dish. Directly translated, “Okonomiyaki” means “grilled to your preference,” emphasising its versatile nature. This dish boasts a delightful concoction of flour, eggs, shredded cabbage, and various other ingredients, their presence often dictated by regional preferences or personal tastes. Once prepared, a hot plate or griddle cooks it to perfection, after which it receives a garnishing of condiments like mayonnaise, okonomiyaki sauce, bonito flakes, and green onions.
A Historical Dive into Okonomiyaki:
Delving into its history, the roots of Okonomiyaki trace back to the Osaka and Hiroshima regions of Japan during the 16th century. Originally named “funoyaki”, it bore a simple composition of flour, water, and grated yam. As years rolled by, its evolution saw the introduction of ingredients such as cabbage, meat, seafood, and other vegetables. The 1930s marked its rise as a prominent street food in Japan. Moreover, during the challenging times of World War II, it became a sustenance meal for many who faced economic hardships.
Distinct Styles: Osaka and Hiroshima
Japan boasts two principal Okonomiyaki styles, each originating from distinct regions.
The Osaka-style or “Kansai-style” Okonomiyaki uses a batter comprising flour, eggs, grated nagaimo yam, dashi stock, and shredded cabbage. This batter can be further enriched with additions like pork belly, shrimp, squid, or even cheese. Once cooked, it’s generously draped in a sweet-savoury sauce, mayonnaise, and garnished with dried bonito flakes and green onions.
On the other hand, the Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki, commonly termed “Hiroshima-yaki”, embraces a layered approach. Each layer, be it batter, shredded cabbage, bean sprouts, pork belly, or noodles, is grilled individually. Once assembled, the layers are crowned with okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise, and green onions.
Regional Twists: Beyond Osaka and Hiroshima:
However, the versatility of Japanese Pancake doesn’t end there. Regions across Japan have added their unique twist to this classic dish. Tokyo, for instance, offers “monjayaki”, a thinner variant served with a spoon rather than chopsticks. Meanwhile, the Kansai region takes pride in its “negiyaki”, where green onions replace the traditional cabbage.
Osaka Style Okonomiyaki with Prawns and Bacon: Detailed Step-by-Step Video Guide:
Osaka Style Okonomiyaki with Prawns and Bacon
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Igredients for Okonomyiaki:
- ½ Small Sweetheart Cabbage - shredded
- ½ lbs Raw King Prawns - (225g) cut into 4 pieces
- 3 Rashes of Unsmoked Streaky Bacon - cut in half
- 3.5 oz Plain Flour - (100g)
- ½ tsp Baking Powder
- 1 Large Egg
- 1 Medium Potato - (150g) or Yam
- ½ cup Vegetable Stock - you can use Dashi or leftover Ramen
- ½ tsp Black Pepper
- 1 Spring Onion - finely sliced
- 1 Small Shallot - finely sliced
- 3 Garlic Cloves - grated
- 1 tsp Fresh Ginger - grated
- 2 tbsp Oil for frying
Ingredients for Okonomiyaki Sauce:
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together plain flour, baking powder, stock, and egg until no lumps remain. Add grated potato and black pepper and mix well. Cover and let the batter rest for at least 30 minutes.
- While the batter is resting, prepare the other ingredients for the Okonomiyaki and make the Okonomiyaki sauce by mixing all the sauce ingredients together.
- After the batter has rested, add shredded cabbage, grated ginger, onions, garlic, and prawns, and mix everything together.
- Heat a frying pan over medium heat with 1 tbsp of oil. Pour quarter of the Okonomiyaki mixture onto the pan and shape it into a round shape. Flatten it slightly and place half of the bacon on top. Let it cook slowly for 3-4 minutes or until the bottom is golden brown, then flip it over. Flatten it again by pressing slightly harder than before and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
- When ready, remove the Okonomiyaki from the pan and garnish it with sauce, mayonnaise, and katsuobushi. Repeat the process with the remaining batter. Serve hot and enjoy!
- Choice of Cabbage: While sweetheart cabbage is specified, any fresh cabbage variety can be used. The key is to shred it finely for even cooking and better texture.
- Grated Potato: The potato acts as a binder and gives a unique texture to the Okonomiyaki. Make sure it’s finely grated to blend seamlessly into the batter.
- Shrimp/Prawns: You can also use other proteins like squid or thinly sliced pork belly. Alternatively, for a vegetarian version, you can omit the seafood and meat entirely.
- Consistency: The batter should be thick but pourable. If it’s too thin, the pancake may fall apart when flipped. If too thick, it might not cook evenly.
- Flipping: Use a wide spatula for flipping the Okonomiyaki to ensure it doesn’t break apart. Also, pressing it slightly after flipping helps in even cooking.
- Sauce Ingredients: If you can’t find sweet soy sauce, regular soy sauce mixed with a bit of honey or brown sugar can be a substitute. Similarly, if Mirin isn’t available, a mixture of honey and a touch of white wine or rice vinegar can be used.
- Customization: The beauty of Okonomiyaki is its adaptability. Feel free to add or omit ingredients based on personal preference or what’s available.
- Utensils: Using a non-stick pan can make the cooking process smoother. It ensures easy flipping and reduces the risk of the Okonomiyaki sticking to the pan.
From the Chef Lukasz
I’m thrilled you’ve chosen to explore the world of Okonomiyaki through my recipe! This dish, steeped in Japanese tradition and history, is wonderfully adaptable to individual preferences. Did you add your own spin to it? Maybe a sprinkle of extra seasonings or a mix of unique toppings appealed to your taste?