Some people call okonomiyaki “Japanese pizza” or “Japanese pancakes,” but to me, this traditional dish made using a thin egg and flour batter is similar to a frittata.
Made to order
I’m sure my version of okonomiyaki is a far cry from the traditional Japanese versions, but I really enjoyed it! Besides, okonomiyaki means “what you like” that is “grilled or cooked” – how accommodating, right? Okonomiyaki is great served as an appetizer or light meal.
My recipe is loaded with veggies only (okonomiyaki usually includes cabbage as well as other vegetables, but many recipes include meat like pork, or even shrimp and squid, too), and I used Bob’s Red Mill Garbanzo Bean Flour to make it a gluten-free dish.
I also made a quick mayo-garlic chili spread to use as a topping (4 tablespoons of mayonnaise mixed with 2 tablespoons of prepared garlic chili sauce). In Japan, brown sauce is used to top the dish, along with a mayonnaise-type sauce drizzled over top in a crosshatch pattern. Seaweed flakes, pickled ginger and Bonito (a type of mackerel) flakes are also sprinkled over the finished dish.
A good source
My nephew, Andrew, lives in Japan so I had to ask him about okonomiyaki. He seems to know a LOT about it! Two common types include Kansai- or Osaka-style okonomiyaki, and Hiroshima-style. The Osaka-style is made by adding the ingredients in with the batter, and the Hiroshima-style is made layering the ingredients on top of the batter, using much more cabbage than the Osaka-style. Sometimes noodles and egg are included, too.
The challenge to this dish? Flipping it after the first side is cooked. I know that sounds funny, but it’s harder than you think! Typically, okonomiyaki is cooked on a teppan, or type of griddle. After cooking one side for several minutes, two spatulas are used (for best results) to flip it. I used a large sauté pan to cook mine, and it took me a few flips before I got it right!
Andrew tells me that okonomiyaki restaurants are popular in Japan, and I can see why! You can grill your own okonomiyaki in some restaurants, or you can buy them from street vendors. Whatever you decide to add to your okonomiyaki, it’s the name of the game – “what you like!”