It's time for another instalment of Japlanning the Menu, and today we are covering a specialty that, although devoured all over Japan, originates from Osaka. The delicious Okonomiyaki, or as you may know from your home town’s Japanese restaurant, "Japanese pancake".
It's a classic dish in Japan, and can be found all over the country, with over 30,000 restaurants serving the dish in Japan alone, it is definitely a dish that you want to try when in Japan.
The name okonomiyaki comes from the Japanese word, 'okonomi', which translates to "what you like" or "what you want". The other part of the name 'yaki' means "cooked" or "grilled", which perfectly describes Okonomiyaki, it is a dish where you can add your favourite flavours and toppings into the mix and grill it.
Now there are are many variants to this dish, and various regions have there own take on it in Japan, however two kinds of Okonomiyaki are the most famous ones in and out of Japan, and they come from two regions in Japan: the Kansai region and the Hiroshima region, let's look at them both now.
Let's start with the main version you will find, the Kansai (or Osaka) style dish, which is the most common one in Japan. The batter consists of flour, grated "nagaimo" (a type of yam / sweet potato), water or "dashi" (a japanese cooking stock), and shredded cabbage. This is where the variants in this style come in. Other ingredients are added to change the flavour or make it a fuller dish, such as meats, shrimp, octopus, kimchi or even cheese can be added. When cooking, it may look a bit like an omelette mix, or pancake batter (where the western name is derived form); it is often also called Osaka soul food.
The cooking technique is having it all poured onto a hot plate or grill, and cooked like a pancake set, which is flipped to cook the other side, then usually topped with tonkatsu /okonomiyaki sauce, and Japanese mayonnaise (the sweet manna from the gods, known as Kewpie); other common toppings are seaweed flakes, shrimp flakes and pickled ginger, depending on the persons tastes.
Some okonomiyaki restaurants are a DIY eating experience! Here, the servers will seat you at a table with a built-in hot plate, and leave you with ingredients and batter for you to create and cook your own okonomiyaki. When planning your next trip, make this a dinner stop, you will not regret it!
The Hiroshima region okonomiyaki is the other well known variant, this one the where ingredients are layered on the hot plate like a tower instead of mixed together. Layers are generally constructed in the following steps:
- Start with batter being put down, like a pancake
- Then add cabbage, pork, and your optional items like seafood and cheese.
- Next is noodles, either yakisoba or udon,
- Then topped with a fried egg, and plenty of okonomiyaki sauce.
The Hiroshima region okonomiyaki also uses a lot more cabbage than the Osaka variant, usually four times as much, so the Hiroshima Okonomiyaki is a much thicker meal.
In Hiroshima, there is even a food theme park dedicated to the legendary Japanese dish, called Okonomi-mura, which has been crowned the top food theme park in Japan for families in the past.
TIME TO COOK
Okay, so we have talked up this amazing dish and how tasty it is, now it's time for us all to try making it for ourselves. Follow the recipe below for an amazing okonomiyaki you can try from the comfort of your own home
(Disclaimer: Japlanning.com will not be held responsible if you feel the urge to book a trip to Japan to try more of this amazing dish afterwards.)
- 1 Cup of Flour
- 2 Eggs
- 2/3 Cup of water (or stock water)
- 2 stalks of finely chopped spring onions
- 4 Cups of finely cut cabbage
- 6 rashers of streaky bacon (thin pork belly is traditional, but hard to get in some places)
Optional for mix:
- (max 1/2 cup)
- Chopped up seafood (shrimp, octopus etc)
- Small diced chicken
- Small diced pork
- Kewpie Mayonnaise
- Tonkatsu / Okonomiyaki Sauce
- Seaweed Flakes
- Fish Flakes
- (All optional)
- Whisk together flour and water in a large bowl, until there are no lumps.
- Add cabbage, spring onion, eggs, and optional mixture ingredients.
- Mix so that all items are evenly covered in batter.
- Heat and oil a large frying pan at 200C or a medium/high heat.
- Add half the mix to make first okonomiyaki.
- Use spatula to make circular shape with mix. about 1.5cm in thickness and at most 30cm diameter.
- Add bacon pieces to top of mix.
- Wait three minutes, then flip the okonomiyaki over with spatulas.
- Once flipped, leave to cook for 4 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure it doesn't burn.
- Flip okonomiyaki again, and cook, bacon side up for another 3 minutes, or until golden brown and firm.
- Remove okonomiyaki from pan, and top with favourite toppings.
- Make the next one with the remaining half of mixture, so you can eat one while everyone else feasts on the first!
Well, after making the above, you will only want to travel to Japan even more, as the best is had there! It's an amazing dish that you must try in Japan, and with so many variations of the dish, it's one you won't tire of.
Have you had okonomiyaki before, or did you try the recipe?
How did you find it?
Tell us in the comments below!