Okonomiyaki is a panfried cross between a pizza and a pancake. It actually means 'grill as you like' with yaki meaning 'grilled', as in yakiniku (grilled meat) or yakisoba (fried noodles) or yakitori (grilled chicken). Osaka and Hiroshima are particularily famous for okonomiyaki which originated hundreds of years ago. There are numerous restaurants which specialize in this comfort food, but I love to watch street food vendors fry this up at a market or a festival. Somehow okonomiyaki tastes so much more delicious when eaten on the run. Typically the batter is made from flour, grated yam, dashi (broth), eggs, shredded cabbage, and an assortment of other ingredients like seafood, vegetables, beef, or pork. These items can vary according to what's in season, what you're craving, and/or what's in your refrigerator...it's one of those great family dishes which each member can create and fry individually on a portable grill pan at the kitchen table. After all the ingredients have been mixed into the batter and panfried, the okonomiyaki is then traditionally garnished with mayonnaise, brown special sauce, aonori (seaweed flakes), katsuboshi (fish flakes), and beni shoga (red pickled ginger). Healthy and flavourful!
Okonomiyaki Recipe (serves one)
4 tbsp flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp water or dashi (Japanese broth)
3/4 cup cabbage, finely chopped
Mix together the above ingredients. Add a selection of other items according to taste:
chopped green onion
thinly sliced pork or beef
thinly sliced red or green pepper
Mix ingredients into batter. Heat griddle and lightly oil. Ladle batter onto griddle. When bubbles form, flip okonomiyaki over. Fry while pressing down gently. When cooked, garnish with special okonomiyaki sauce and japanese mayonnaise. Sprinkle with aonori, katsuboshi and pickled ginger.
NB Okonomiyaki sauce can be made with a mixture of 3 tbsp. ketchup, 1 tbsp. worcestershire sauce and 1 tsp. soy sauce.