Okonomiyaki, often referred to as savory Japanese pancakes, are probably less famous than the iconic Kansai-region takoyaki (fried balls of battered octopus). The two dishes actually taste quite similar, though! That’s because they share some very flavorful toppings, notably mayo, okonomi sauce, dried bonito, and powdered dried seaweed. Osaka-style okonomiyaki is more commonly found abroad. This version mixes ingredients into the batter before cooking over a griddle. Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki, on the other hand, is a bit more complex to make. The batter serves as a crepe-style base for many layers of ingredients and involved several breathless pancake flippings!
Like ramen, okonomiyaki became popular after World War II as a dish one could make using the then-plentiful American wheat flour rations. After the atomic bomb obliterated Hiroshima, survivors added ingredients as they slowly gained access to them. We kept the usual cabbage and bean sprouts and chose the more traditional pork belly and shrimp for our proteins, and we welcome you to improvise your own ingredients. The dish literally asks you to do so: okonomi means “what you like!”
On to the recipe...
First, let’s gather our ingredients:
- 1 Pack okonomiyaki mix (aka Japanese pancake mix!)
- 1 Cup Water
- 1 Egg (for batter)
- 2 Eggs (for final okonomiyaki)
- 2 Packets katsuboshi (dried bonito flakes)
- Canola Oil
- ¼ Cabbage
- 2 Cups bean sprouts
- 4-5 Green Onions
- 5 Tbsp Tenkasu (tempura flakes)
- 10 Strips Thin-Sliced Pork Belly
- 1 Bowl Instant Yakisoba
- 12 Cooked Shrimp
- Okonomi Sauce
- Japanese Mayonnaise
- 1 Sheet Roasted Sushi Nori Seaweed
- 2 Tbsp Sushi Gari Ginger
Next, all the equipment you’ll need:
- 1 sharp cooking knife and cutting board
- 1 griddle or large skillet
- Optional: small skillet (for yakisoba)
- 1 medium-sized mixing bowl
- 1 ladle
- 1 small bowl (to mix eggs)
- 2 spatulas
- 1 large serving plate
- Recommended: blender, for aonori.
Let’s make some Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki!
Prep your ingredients!
- Stand your rinsed cabbage on the stem, then cut in four even wedges.
- RInse and drain all produce.
- Cut the bulk of the core from 1 wedge by cutting two cuts angled towards one another
- Shred 1 wedge by cutting it as thinly as possible.
- Dice green onions.
- Thinly slice your ginger into tiny strips.
- Mince/blend one sheet of sushi nori until it is dust-like in texture. That’s what we call aonori.
Time to assemble!
- Pour dry okonomiyaki mix into a medium-sized bowl, then 2 eggs and 1 cup of water.
- Mix until batter is lump-free and fairly thin consistency.
- Pour 1-2 Tbsp canola oil into your skillet. Heat over medium flame.
- Pour about ¾ cup batter into the skillet and reduce heat to medium-low. Use the bottom of your ladle to carefully spiral out the batter until it has spread into a roughly 9-inch diameter circle.
- Sprinkle generously with your bonito flakes. This is your first dose of umami!
- Pile shredded cabbage until it is about 3 inches high at the center of the circle.
- Pile as many bean sprouts as possible! It may get a little unwieldy.
- Add in a healthy serving of green onions and about 2 tbsp tempura flakes.
- Carefully layer 3 strips of pork belly across the entire mountain of ingredients without overlapping.
- Drizzle about a tbsp of batter to help keep your pancake together!
- Cook until the pork belly is no longer pink.
- Time to assemble your yakisoba! Remove spice packets and prep noodles according to the instructions on the packet.
- Once cooked, pour half the noodles into another part of your large skillet and season generously with okonomi sauce. Shape into a circle the size of your pancake.
- Top with about 6 shrimp.
- Once your pork belly is cooked, carefully use your spatulas to flip the entire pancake onto the yakisoba! Take a moment to collect and rearrange as needed.
- Crack your two remaining eggs into a small bowl and pierce each yolk. Pour into skillet and mix with chopsticks. As they cook, shape into a circle slightly larger than your pancake. Heat until whites are cooked but still moist.
- Shift your pancake (which now has a noodle foundation) onto your disc of mixed eggs.
- Brace yourself. It’s time to flip your pancake again!
- Flip the entire pancake onto your serving dish. Usually okonomiyaki is eaten with little spatulas over a griddle. We used a baking sheet to serve ours.
- Top beautifully with okonomi sauce, mayo, aonori, katsuoboshi, ginger, and diced green onion. This is what gives your dish its distinctive okonomiyaki look and flavor!
- Since you probably don’t have little spatulas at home, feel free to use a fork and serrated knife to enjoy while hot.
- This should have used a third or half of your ingredients. Repeat for more servings!
Gochisosama deshita! (Thanks for all your hard work!) Let’s go enjoy some homemade Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki.