Japanese Cabbage Pancake - Okonomiyaki
By Alex C
Senior Food Writer at Pro Home Cooks
Okonomiyaki is a classic Japanese street food made up of veggies, primarily cabbage, held together by a thin batter and topped with a variety of toppings. There are two styles of okonomiyaki: Osaka and Hiroshima. Osaka is where all the vegetables (except for the thinly sliced pork) get tossed into the batter and poured onto a griddle to cook. A hiroshima style okonomiyaki is when a thin layer of batter gets placed on the griddle first and then all the ingredients get layered on top of each other like one big sedimentary rock. The batter is then poured over top and then flipped to cook. Usually, a hiroshima style pancake is way larger than an osaka style pancake and includes a layer of yakisoba noodles.
My favorite way to make okonomiyaki at home is the osaka way. It's simple to make, it isn't overwhelmingly large or too hard to flip. I always start with a high pile of thinly sliced green cabbage, carrots, and scallion tossed in what looks like a miniscule amount of batter and fried on one side until golden. Right before it gets flipped, it gets topped with thinly sliced pork or bacon and right before it gets served a healthy squeeze of kewpie mayo and a thick smokey japanese BBQ-esque sauce gets spread on top. Final garnishes of bonito flakes and crushed seaweed flakes get sprinkled on top and there you have an iconic street food Japan made right at home.
Typically, an okonomiyaki recipe usually calls for at least 10 minutes of prep but with just a little help from the grocery store, it can be cooked and ready to be devoured in just 10 minutes. Let me explain…the most daunting task of making okonomiyaki is slicing or chopping the cabbage but that’s where my hack comes into play. Instead of grabbing a whole head of cabbage, grab a bag of pre sliced coleslaw mix. The green cabbage is already perfectly sliced up and there’s the right ratio of cabbage to carrots - 3:1! All there's left to do is make the batter but if you’d like you can add some chopped scallions, some shiitake mushrooms, corn, chopped peppers. Really, you can add any veggies you want, okonomiyaki literally translates to “cooked how you like” but when you're short on time, use a bag of coleslaw mix to make this semi homemade recipe!
- 1/2 cup of all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon of cornstarch or potato starch
- 1 tablespoon of baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon of salt
- 3/4 cup of dashi broth or water
- 1- 10 oz bag of coleslaw mix or 2 cups of shredded cabbage + 2 tablespoons of shredded carrots
- 2 scallions, diced finely
- 1 egg
- 4 slices of thinly sliced pork or bacon
- Okonomiyaki sauce to serve
- Kewpie mayo to serve
- Bonito flakes to serve
- Dried seaweed to serve
- Get a 10 - 12 inch cast iron skillet or non stick skillet and set it to medium heat.
- Next, in a bowl combine the flour, cornstarch/potato starch, baking powder, salt, and dashi broth/water. Whisk just until you have a homogenous mixture. A few small lumps are totally okay.
- To the bowl, add in the shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, and finely diced scallion. Crack in an egg and give everything a good mix.
- Spray the skillet with a little bit of oil and then dump out the entire batch of okonomiyaki batter. Spread it out leaving a one inch border from the sides of the pan.
- While the okonomiyaki cooks, lay down 4 strips of pork/bacon across the top. After 3 minutes pass, use a large spatula to flip it. Or if you are too scared, you can flip it onto a plate and slide it back onto the pan. Cook for another 3 - 4 minutes.
- Transfer the okonomiyaki out of the skillet and place it on the serving plate of your choosing.
- Drizzle over the okonomiyaki sauce and using the back of a spoon spread it out evenly. Then squeeze over the kewpie mayo in a zigzag pattern. Top with bonito flakes and dried seaweed. Slice it up how you like and enjoy!
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