Savor the Flavors of Japan: Osaka-Style Okonomiyaki RecipeCourse: Boki’s Cooking: The cooking recipes for Boki dishes
Cabbage is a base, but customize freely. Stock Japanese essentials for a quick, budget-friendly homemade dish—ideal for leftovers.
1/2 small head of cabbage, finely shredded (approximately 4 packed cups; 14 ounces; 400g)
3 scallions, thinly sliced, with dark green parts set aside separately
2 ounces (50g) beni-shoga (Japanese pickled red ginger), divided (refer to notes)
1/2 ounce (15g) katsuobushi, divided (refer to notes)
1/4 pound (120g) yamaimo, peeled and grated using the smallest holes of a box grater (optional; refer to notes)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (120ml) cold water or dashi (or use cold water with 2 teaspoons Hondashi; refer to notes)
Combine 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (3 3/4 ounces; 110g).
8 to 10 thin slices of uncured pork belly (optional; refer to notes)
Use 2 tablespoons (30ml) of vegetable oil if not using pork belly.
Ao-nori, okonomiyaki sauce, and Kewpie mayonnaise for serving (refer to notes)
Mix finely shredded cabbage, sliced scallion whites, half of the scallion greens, half of the beni-shoga, 3/4 of the katsuobushi, grated yamaimo, beaten eggs, and water (or dashi) in a spacious bowl. Sprinkle flour over the mixture, and use a fork to stir vigorously until a thick batter with numerous bubbles forms. Set aside.
For those using pork belly, line the base of a 10-inch nonstick skillet with pork belly over medium heat. Add the okonomiyaki mixture and use a fork to spread it into an even layer. If not using pork belly, heat vegetable oil in the skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the okonomiyaki mixture and spread it evenly with a fork.
- Cover and cook, occasionally shaking the pan, until the bottom layer is crisp and well-browned, approximately 10 minutes. Adjust the heat as necessary to prevent the cabbage from burning.
- To flip, drain any excess fat. Over a sink and securely holding the lid against the pan with a pot holder, flip the entire pan and lid so that the okonomiyaki transfers to the pan lid. Remove the pan, then carefully slide the okonomiyaki off the lid and back into the pan, ensuring the browned side is up.
- Return to heat, cover, and continue cooking with occasional shaking until both sides are browned, and the okonomiyaki is no longer runny but retains a custardy and tender center, about 8 minutes more. Transfer to a serving platter, pork side up.
- Drizzle with okonomiyaki sauce and mayonnaise; sprinkle with ao-nori, the remaining beni-shoga, the remaining katsuobushi, and the remaining scallion greens. Serve promptly from a shared plate.
You know how sometimes you meet someone for the first time, and it feels like you’ve known each other your whole lives? That’s exactly how it was for me with okonomiyaki. The initial encounter happened when a Japanese friend decided to whip up this delightful dish to satisfy our hunger after an afternoon of day-drinking in the park. She skillfully combined chopped cabbage and vegetables with a couple of eggs and a packet of dry batter mix, then fried it in an affordable aluminum nonstick skillet. The final touch involved sliding it onto a plate, drizzling it with Japanese mayonnaise and a rich, brown sauce. Its flavors, a harmonious blend of sweet and savory, with a hint of spice from bits of ginger and a smoky dashi undertone, were instantly familiar – especially for those who grew up enjoying casual Japanese cuisine. The texture, simultaneously crunchy and creamy, hit all the right notes for my comfort food cravings. It’s no wonder they affectionately call this dish Osaka soul food.
What, then, is Okonomiyaki? The term “okonomi” translates to “how you want it,” and an okonomiyaki is one of the world’s most endlessly adaptable dishes. While shredded or chopped cabbage is a staple in the base, beyond that, you can incorporate a variety of ingredients into the batter. It’s worth noting that there’s also a Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki that typically layers eggs, bean sprouts, and noodles into the base. In Japan, specialized okonomiyaki restaurants offer extensive menus with countless mix-ins, ranging from chopped shrimp and pork belly to mochi, fresh corn, Chinese sausage, and even cheese. You select your preferred ingredients, and the waiter prepares the batter, handing it over for you to cook on a wide steel teppan (griddle) installed on the tabletop. The interactive cooking process involves flipping it and enjoying each bite with specially designed miniature spatulas.
Once you stock up on a few essential Japanese pantry staples (all of which boast a practically infinite shelf life), making okonomiyaki at home becomes a budget-friendly, quick, easy, and satisfying endeavor. Moreover, it’s an excellent way to repurpose leftovers.