Have you ever had Japanese okonomiyaki? It’s a very common food in Japan.
The name basically means “grilled as you like it” “what you want grilled”, and it’s basically a savory pancake of sorts. The batter and toppings vary according to region, but it’s basically a batter of flour and water or broth with finely shredded cabbage, green onions, and whatever meat or seafood you want in it. There’s a lot of variations, but that’s it in it’s most basic form.
On top of the finished okonomiyaki is usually a layer of okonomiyaki sauce (available in most Asian markets), a sauce similar to Worcestershire sauce, but thicker and sweeter, aonori (finely crushed seaweed flakes), katsuobushi (bonito fish flakes), and Japanese mayonnaise.
If you’re unfamiliar with Japanese cuisine, you may be thinking, “Seaweed flakes? Fish flakes? The heck?!” But the seaweed flakes have great flavor. To get bonito flakes, the beheaded, gutted, and filleted fish is simmered, smoked, and then dried. It becomes hard which makes it easy to cut very thin flakes off of it. They have the flavor of smoked fish. Very tasty. Trust me.
Also, if you want to be really authentic, get Japanese mayonnaise for this. You can find it at most Asian markets. The most famous brand of Japanese mayonnaise is “Kewpie Mayonnaise”. Japanese mayonnaise tastes different than American mayonnaise, so if you’re feeling adventurous, want your okonomiyaki to be really authentic, or you’re like my husband and think American mayonnaise tastes icky, get ya some Kewpie mayonnaise.
For this recipe I made a pretty standard okonomiyaki with shrimp in it. Unfortunately, I was out of aonori (that’s why there’s no green on top of my finished okonomiyaki), but I’ve included it in the recipe.
This makes two large okonomiyaki (probably enough for 3 – 4 people), so feel free to adjust the amounts for the number of people you’re cooking for.
First mix 1 1/2 cups of flour and 1 1/2 cups of dashi (Japanese broth – you can find them in powdered form in most Asian grocery stores) or water. Mix it all up until you have a nice, lump-free batter.
Like so. It should be about the consistency of pancake batter. If it’s too thick or too thin, feel free to add more flour or water as necessary.
Add 3 cups of diced cabbage, 3 or 4 diced green onions, and about 1 1/2 – 2 cups diced raw shrimp (peeled and de-veined), and mix.
Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, and spoon half the batter onto it. Use a spoon to smoosh it out into a circular shape about 1/2 – 3/4 and inch in thickness. Cook the okonomiyaki until it’s golden brown on one side, then (very carefully) use two large spatulas to flip it over and cook it on the other side until it’s golden brown. Repeat with the remaining batter.
Hint: If you don’t think you can flip it, and it is a bit tricky, use a spatula to cut it in half, then flip each half over.
If you want to give it a little extra something, add a little sesame oil along with the olive oil when you cook it. If you’ve never had it, sesame oil has fabulous flavor and aroma. Don’t use nothing but sesame oil though, as its flavor would overpowering the okonomiyaki, and sesame oil doesn’t handle high temperatures well.
Remove the finished okonomiyaki to a plate, drizzle some okonomiyaki sauce on it, spread it into an even layer with a spoon, sprinkle some aonori and katsuobushi (the bonito fish flakes) over it (if you want of course), and then drizzle some mayonnaise on top (again, optional), and dig in.
(makes two large pancakes, enough for 3 – 4 people)
- 1 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 c. dashi broth or water
- dash of salt
- 3 c. diced cabbage
- 3 – 4 green onions, diced
- 1 1/2 – 2 c. diced raw shrimp (peeled and de-veined)
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (plus one tsp. sesame oil – optional)
- okonomiyaki sauce
- aonori (seaweed flakes) (optional)
- katsuobushi (bonito flakes) (optional)
- Mayonnaise (optional)
- In a large bowl, mix the flour, a dash of salt, and dashi together until smooth. Add the cabbage, onions, and shrimp, and mix until well combined.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Spoon half the batter into the skillet and use a spatula to form it into a circular shape about 1/2 – 3/4 inch thick. Cook on one side until golden brown, then use two spatulas to flip it over, and cook on the remaining side until golden brown. Remove to a plate, and repeat with the remaining batter.
- To serve, drizzle okonomiyaki sauce over the finished pancake, then spread it around evenly with a spoon. Sprinkle aonori and katsuobushi over it, and then top it off with mayonnaise drizzled over the top (if using).