Grilled things you like. That is apparently what ‘okonomiyaki’ translates to (I read fried things somewhere else but same same…kinda), and this is definitely a grilled thing I like. These Japanese pancakes are a fantastic way to use up left over vegetables and make a super quick dinner. They’re also ridiculously tasty but I’m not going to claim this is a particularly ‘traditional recipe’. Instead, I’ve gone for easy.
Seeing as I usually make this when I’m trying to use up the inordinate amount of cabbage I always seems to have left over after making slaw, I tend to substitute all the other ingredients rather feely so feel free to do the same. If you’re not someone who regularly has dashi in your house (ahem, this girl) or makes your own then you could use a regular stock or even just water with some seasoning added. I have included seasoning instructions for the water in the recipe as tbh it’s probably what I end up using most. Sorry traditionalist, I’m a girl of opportunity not rules. Plus it makes it vego.
Speaking of the rules, and my inability to stick to them: I use whatever flour I have on hand too. This is often spelt, wholewheat or buckwheat but I have also used rye before which was mostly successful (it worked better the time I did a 50/50 rye/spelt mix).
Oh and one more no no that’s in this recipe: okonomiyaki sauce. I’m not a fan of having sauces in my fridge that have only one purpose. My fridge isn’t that big and it’s shared. Also I can’t find this at my local supermarket so it depends on whether I have it on hand or not whether I’ll use it. I often don’t have it and have found that indonesian soy (sticky sweet kecap manis) and mushroom soy (really pungent and yummy) also work well as a stand in. In photos I have used mushroom soy. I’m not pretending it’s the same favour, but it’s a flavour I like.
I’m not a massive fan of bonito flakes or seafood in my okonomiyaki so I’ve kept this one vegetarian. Feel free to add some bonito flakes on top if you’re into them, or some prawn or crab meat into the batter mix.
Lunch tip: These reheat brilliantly on a sandwich press. Just cook the full batch at home, wrap any extras in foil to keep together and then reheat/crisp up when you get to work using that trusty sandwich press. Tah-dah.
Meat eaters read on: I have, in particularly indulgent moments, added a couple of slices of streaky bacon, that my dad makes from pork belly, to this. To do this I usually put a little less oil in pan, follow with the batter and then place the strips of bacon on top. When you flip it it will be on the bottom and get super crispy. As well as give the pancake a ridiculous flavour. To up the ante, you won’t need to add any more oil to the pan as cook the rest of the pancakes as the bacon will provide it.
Makes 4 small or 2 large
1 cup flour (see notes but usually spelt or buckwheat if I’m being nice to my gluten intolerant housemate)
1 cup dashi/water/stock (if using water add a tsp each of soy and sake)
1 small carrot, grated
1/4 cup spring onions finely sliced
1 tsp finely chopped chilli
1 Tbs finely chopped coriander stalks
1/2 tsp ginger, freshly grated
1 Tbs oil (rice bran works well)
okonomiyaki sauce/ kecap manis/ mushroom soy
4 Tbs coriander leaves
4 tsp spring onion finely sliced
1/2 red chilli, finely sliced
pickled ginger or finely sliced radish (12 small slices of either)
Mix flour and the liquid you’re using together until smooth. Finely slice/ shred your cabbage and add this to the batter along with the carrot, spring onion, coriander stalks, ginger, egg and chilli. Mix well to combine.
Using a small frypan, ideally 15cm, pour in half the oil and put on a high to medium heat. Once the oil is hot and has spread evenly around the pan add 1/4 (if you’re making bigger one’s add 1/2!) of the okonomiyaki mixture or enough to cover the base of the fry pan. You only want the pancake to be about 1-1.5cm thick so spread the mixture out until the base is covered. Press down using a spatula to make sure everything sticks together. Cook on this side for 3-4 minutes and then flip with the help of the spatula. It should stay together. If it isn’t press down firmly again and cook for another minute. It should be golden when you flip it. Cook for a further 3-4 minutes on this side and then slide on to a plate. Repeat with the remaining mixture until you have 4 pancakes. Add the rest of the oil before the 3rd pancake if you think you need it.
Now to serve: Drizzle the okonomiyaki sauce/what you are using in a a zigzag across the pancake. Follow with the kewpie mayo trying to get in the spaces left from the sauce zig zag. Top with spring onion, coriander, chilli and the pickled ginger or radish. Dig in.