This classic okonomiyaki recipe makes the umami-packed Japanese cabbage pancakes that are completely addictive. These plump savoury pancakes are served at teppanyaki restaurants where they’re made old-school style on the teppanyaki grill. You’ll also spot them on menus at Japanese izakayas, casual taverns where the food is served to soak up the booze. While heartier, they’re presented with more finesse.
Our easy okonomiyaki recipe makes the Japanese cabbage pancakes that are so popular with umami-lovers and it’s one of our favourite cabbage recipes.
If you’re as addicted to umami as we are and haven’t tried these filling savoury pancakes topped with a sauce made from soy and Worcestershire, creamy mayo, umami-rich bonito flakes and nori flakes, and a sprinkle of furikake (sesame seeds, nori and chilli flakes) for more texture and flavour, make these now. You’ll love them.
While eggs might not be the star of okonomiyaki, along with a little flour, they’re vital for holding this rich savoury pancake together. Which is why this classic okonomiyaki recipe is this week’s edition of Weekend Eggs, a series of recipes on quintessential egg dishes from around the world, which we launched with Grantourismo back in 2010 with our year-long global grand tour focused on slow, local and experiential travel.
On that trip, we settled into places for two weeks at a time (including Japan, where we first tried okonomiyaki) to get an insight into how locals lived. In each place we stayed, we explored the local food, engaged with local cooks and chefs, and learnt to make local specialties. We shared those in Weekend Eggs and another long-running series, The Dish, for which Terence shared the recipes of quintessential dishes he learnt to cook in each place.
Now before I tell you more about this okonomiyaki recipe, I have a favour to ask. Grantourismo is reader-funded. If you’ve enjoyed our recipes or other content on the site, please consider supporting Grantourismo. You could buy us a coffee and we’ll use that donation to buy cooking ingredients for recipe testing or contribute to our epic original Cambodian cuisine history and cookbook on Patreon.
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You could also shop our Grantourismo store on Society6 for gifts for foodies, including fun reusable cloth face masks designed with Terence’s images. Now let me tell you all about this easy okonomiyaki recipe.
Okonomiyaki Recipe for the Japanese Cabbage Pancake and an Okonomiyaki Sauce Recipe
This classic okonomiyaki recipe calls for eggs, finely sliced cabbage, finely grated yams, dashi stock, and a little flour to bind the pancake. As you’d guess, okonomiyaki can be quite a filling meal, and best of all, it can be eaten at any time of day.
Okonomiyaki roughly translates to “as you like it”, which means the toppings – sometimes cooked separately – can vary greatly. Some of the most common toppings include pork belly or bacon, prawns, octopus, and other seafood.
At teppanyaki joints, basic single servings of okonomiyaki are lined up on a counter in bowls and when an order comes in the chef just adds an egg, mixes it thoroughly, and upturns it onto the grill with a little oil. The extras, such as the bacon and prawns, are cooked separately, and then added once the pancake has been flipped and topped with the okonomiyaki sauce and lashings of creamy Japanese mayonnaise.
The more fancy versions of okonomiyaki are cooked in frying pans are decorated a little more ornately, with the umami-rich okonomiyaki sauce poured onto the cabbage pancake from a squeeze bottle in lines, sometimes in a zig-zag like pattern, then the same is done with the creamy Japanese mayonnaise.
There are other types of okonomiyaki, as well as regional differences. Osaka, as well as having a specific way of making okonomiyaki, also has ‘monjayaki’ a pancake with a much looser ‘batter’ that’s also popular in other Asian cities with a large Japanese expat population.
Tips to Making This Okonomiyaki Recipe for a Japanese Cabbage Pancake and Okonomiyaki Sauce Recipe
Just a few tips to making this classic okonomiyaki recipe. We like to make our okonomiyaki in a deep-sided 9-inch (23 cm) frying pan that we only use for egg dishes.
We make our okonomiyaki with 200 g of cabbage, sliced as finely as possible. This makes it easy to double, triple or quadruple the amounts to make more – which is a feature of our recipes. Note that with all our recipes you can slide the number next to “Servings” to increase the number, which adjusts the measures.
We can’t get the specific type of Japanese mountain yam (yamaimo) right now where we live, so we omit it when we’re making it at the moment, but do try to source it if you can.
We do double the number of eggs per pancake, because we like to tuck into okonomiyaki as a breakfast dish or brunch treat on weekends, and find the additional eggs makes it more like a tortilla or frittata and binds the pancake better. This is our preference but do feel free to reduce the number of eggs to one per 200 g of cabbage.
When it comes to garnishing, anything goes in Japan, but the essentials are the okonomiyaki sauce (a seemingly simplified tonkatsu sauce) that’s available commercially, but a cinch to made, as well as Japanese mayonnaise, such as Kewpie mayonnaise, and a sprinkle of bonito flakes (see below).
We also sprinkle on whatever nori (dried seaweed) we happen to have in the fridge, and furikake, which is a Japanese seasoning that you can purchase or you can make your own. The furikake that Lara makes consists of a blend of white and black sesame seeds, fine nori flakes, sea salt, and chilli flakes.
Note that the bonito flakes (dried bonito fish that is grated into flakes) that Japanese restaurants like to use are more like the industrial-sized bonito flakes used to make stock. They like the effect they create because the flakes wave around like they’re alive. We use the smaller bonito flakes, because, well, we’re not using a kilo bag of bonito flakes a day.
Another popular garnish is pickled red ginger, but it’s not an ingredient that I would not go out of my way to find, even though it looks pretty as garnish.
Okonomiyaki Recipe for the Japanese Cabbage Pancake and Okonomiyaki Sauce Recipe
- 200 g cabbage very finely shredded
- 2 scallions thinly sliced, top parts reserved for garnish
- 60 g yamaimo peeled and finely grated (if using)
- 2 large eggs
- 80 ml dashi stock or water
- 60 g all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 tbsp okonomiyaki sauce see below
- 2 tbsp Japanese mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp furikake
- 1 tbsp dried seaweed
- 1 tbsp bonito flakes
- 2 tbsp tomato sauce (ketchup)
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire
- 1 tbsp Japanese soy sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- To make the okonomiyaki sauce, add ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and sugar to a small saucepan over low heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mix. You can drizzle this over the pancake straight from the pan or transfer it to a squeeze bottle when it has cooled down.
- To make the okonomiyaki, you'll need a non-stick, deep-sided 9-inch (23 cm) frying pan and a plate that fits snugly on top of the pan to turn the pancake over.
- In a large bowl add the sliced cabbage, green shallots, yamaimo (if using) and beaten eggs. Add the dashi stock (or water) then the flour and combine well. The mix should be wet and a little sticky.
- Heat the frying pan to medium high and add the mixture, spreading it out in one thick layer.
- After a couple of minutes, check the doneness of the bottom of the pancake using a fish slice (thin slotted metal spatula).
- When the bottom is golden brown, have the plate ready to flip the pancake on to. Check that the pancake is not stuck to the pan by shaking the pan back and forth.
- With the plate over the top of the frying pan, swiftly flip the pan onto the plate and the pancake should be covering the plate.
- Place the frying pan back on the heat and gently slide the pancake back into the pan. Cook until the underside is golden and transfer to a serving plate.
- Pour the okonomiyaki sauce in a zig-zag pattern over the top of the pancake. Turn the plate 90° and do the same with the mayonnaise. Sprinkle on sliced spring onions, dried seaweed, furikake, and bonito flakes. Serve immediately.
Please do let us know in the comments below if you make our easy okonomiyaki recipe as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.