The classic Japanese okonomiyaki recipe is perhaps the most famous Japanese street food - and rightly so. The crispy pancake outside, moist doughy vegetable-filled interior, sweet-sour sauce topping, and savoury umami-rich garnish, are the ideal foil to a boozy night in town.
Depending on where is eaten in Japan, both the okonomiyaki recipe and cooking styles are quite different. Hiroshima-style (far South West) layers ingredients directly onto a hot plate where they are mixed, and often include noodles. Whereas Osaka or Kansai-style (central South) mixes together everything in a batter before frying.
The name okonomiyaki comes from "okonomi" for "what you like" and "yaki" for cooked, and really is interpreted as "anything goes". Okonomiyaki restaurants often serve you the batter and ingredients separately, sitting around a hot plate, so you mix and cook the pancake yourself - quite literally 'cook it how you like it'.
Cabbage is the most popular filling, but pork, squid, savoury mochi (a chewy glutinous rice flour dough) and even Korean kimchi are frequently on the menu. However - certainly in Osaka - the pancake is always identifiable by the criss-cross pattern of mayonnaise and brown okonomiyaki sauces, with ground seaweed and bonito flakes sprinkled across the surface.
The history of okonomiyaki is widely disputed, however most agree the current preparation stems from 1930's post-war Japan. The batter and cabbage base made a small number of cheap ingredients go a long way, and the wheat flour base was particularly helpful in a time when rice was scarce.
With a little chopping time, and under 10 minutes to cook, this Osaka style Japanese okonomiyaki recipe is an ideal mid-week dinner. Plus, as long as you keep the approximate ratio of vegetables to other ingredients the same, you can use up almost anything lurking in the store-cupboard. From julienned carrots, green beans, grated potato, or rashers of bacon (lay on top of the uncooked batter whilst one side is cooking - they will crisp up and cook through when the pancake is turned over).
Ingredients Serves: 2
- 3 tbsp sunflower oil
- 150g chicken breast, finely sliced (optional)
- 140g plain flour
- 175g water
- 1 1/2 tsp dashi stock granules
- 2 tsp caster sugar
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 2 medium eggs
- 200g beansprouts or finely sliced white cabbage
- 4 spring onions, sliced on the diagonal
- First cook the chicken, if using. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a frying pan, and stir fry the chicken until cooked through. Remove to a plate and wipe out the pan.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, water, dash stock, caster sugar, baking powder and eggs until smooth (very small lumps will not matter).
- Add the cooked chicken (if using), beansprouts and cabbage, and mix well. All of the ingredients should have a fine coating of batter.
- Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and pour in the batter. Cook for 4-7 minutes on each side, or until set. Cooking time will vary depending on the diameter of your frying pan, and therefore the thickness of the pancake.
- Remove to a serving plate and garnish with mayonnaise, okonomiyaki sauce, aonori seaweed flakes, and katsuo bushi bonito flakes.