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From okonomi, meaning “how you like it” and yaki, meaning “cooked,” okonomiyaki is a highly customizable, beloved Japanese street food known for its signature stripes of pale-yellow mayonnaise.

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What Is Okonomiyaki?

Okonomiyaki is best described as a savory Japanese pancake fried on a griddle until both sides are golden brown and finished with various sauces and garnishes. However, okonomiyaki is far more complex in flavor and texture than a pancake, stuffed with umami-rich ingredients held together with a hearty, filling batter. While the recipe for okonomiyaki may vary by cook and location, the basic components include a batter made with dashi stock and wheat flour, shredded cabbage, crispy bits of tenkasu (tempura scraps), beaten egg, and grated yam. From there, cooks can add additional ingredients, such as pork belly, seafood, and assorted veggies.

The finished pancake is drizzled with Japanese-style mayonnaise, okonomiyaki sauce (a sweeter version of Worcestershire sauce), and topped with a range of ingredients, from powdered aonori (dried seaweed) and thinly sliced scallions to fried eggs and katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes). Though one of its main components is cabbage, okonomiyaki is not gluten-free; it’s part of what’s known as konamon, a group of dishes made with wheat flour.

5 Regional Okonomiyaki Variations

In Japan, there are many regional styles of okonomiyaki, including but not limited to:

  1. Osaka-style okonomiyaki. Osaka-style okonomiyaki is the most popular variation, in which all ingredients are mixed before cooking, much like a frittata.
  2. Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki. In Hiroshima, okonomiyaki is built layer by layer, beginning with the batter, followed by the cabbage and additional ingredients for more of a “pizza” approach.
  3. Modan-yaki. Modan-yaki is the “more is more” of the okonomiyaki world, served with fried yakisoba or udon noodles piled high on top of the pancake.
  4. Negiyaki. Negiyaki, similar to Chinese-style scallion pancakes, highlights green onions in its recipe and has a much thinner profile than regular okonomiyaki.
  5. Monjayaki. In Tokyo, a popular form of okonomiyaki is monjayaki (also called monja), which increases the amount of dashi stock in the batter, giving it a much looser consistency. The result after panfrying is a texture similar to melted cheese.

Okonomiyaki Recipe

Makes
2 pancakes
Prep Time
12 min
Total Time
20 min
Cook Time
8 min

Ingredients

  • 1 cup okonomiyaki flour mix, or all-purpose flour (if using all-purpose flour, add ¼ teaspoon baking powder, salt, and sugar to the mix)
  • ½ cup nagaimo (Japanese long yam, or “mountain yam” found in most Asian grocery stores), grated
  • ⅔ cup dashi stock
  • 1 cup green cabbage, thinly sliced or shredded
  • ¼ cup tempura scraps
  • 3 eggs, whisked
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • Vegetable oil
  • Aonori powder, for garnish
  • Katsuobushi, for garnish
  • Japanese mayonnaise and okonomiyaki sauce, to serve
  1. In a large bowl, combine the okonomiyaki flour with the grated yam and dashi, and whisk together.
  2. Fold in the shredded cabbage, eggs, tempura scraps, and scallions until the mixture is uniform and evenly distributed.
  3. Heat a griddle or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to coat the bottom of the skillet.