Japanese pancake a taste sensation

Jun 3rd, 2011 | By | Category: Country Cooking

Our guests bounded through the front door and made straight for the fire. What, they asked, were we having for dinner this fine winter evening.

“Okonomiyaki,” we replied. “And you get to make it.”


Click here to see us making okonomiyaki.

No one expects okonomiyaki, which is a pity because it is a true culinary delight.

While touring Japan last year, the daughter was totally taken by this dish which is somewhere between a savoury pancake and a pizza. The word translates, I am told, to ‘as you like it’.

Basically, a batter is whipped up using egg, flour and dashi, which is Japanese stock. Then some finely chopped cabbage is added. Then you slice and dice your favourite things – we used mushrooms, red capsicum, onion and cut long slithers of rump steak. Juicy, plump shrimps were placed in a bowl, ready to be added, along with some nice free range bacon.

The daughter has become the local okonomiyaki expert, and she made the first one. Once all the food has been prepared, it actually is a doddle. A hot plate is oiled and heated, and the ingredients sizzled and fried.

Sometimes when it comes to flipping the pancake it doesn’t as much flip as flop, but this doesn’t matter, because you can just rearrange it all on the plate afterwards. And it gets smothered in okonomi sauce and Japanese mayonnaise anyway.

Okonomi sauce, Japanese mayonnaise, and any other special ingredients, can be found at Asian food stores and even most supermarkets.

And the taste – is just delicious. It is quite addictive and we’ve taken to calling it oko-NOMM-iyaki. Or maybe okonomiYUMMY works better.

We had such a ball making it we had it again for lunch, and then twice more for dinner over the following week.

Our friends loved it, and were quick to grab the fish slice to flip their own creation. Since then we’ve sprung it on others as well – it always goes down a treat and is a seriously sociable thing to do on a cold Waikato evening.


Suggested toppings:
Prawns or shrimps
Red capsicum
Mung beans

1 tsp dashi powder
Three cups cold water

3/4 cup dashi
1 egg
1 cup flour
1/8 – ¼ cabbage

Bonito flakes
Japanese mayonnaise
Okonomi sauce

With a large knife, finely slice cabbage, discarding the white core.

Mix together the dashi – add a little of the water to a jug and stir in the powder. When it is all combined, add remaining water. Mix together the flour, egg and dashi to a smooth paste, then stir in cabbage. The cabbage should be well coated with the batter, but not awash in it – some fine adjustment might be necessary.

Prepare toppings – remove fat from steak and chop into thin strips. Chop bacon into chunks, clean and roughly dice mushrooms, peppers etc., chop onion finely.

Warm up a hot plate, with a little oil. When hot, fry whatever toppings you want. I leave steak until the dish is almost cooked, as I like it rare.

Arrange toppings into a circle, and layer the batter on top of this, smoothing it down and patting into a circle shape. Not too big, about the size of a sandwich plate is good.

Cook about three more minutes, then carefully flip with a slice. If the circle is too big, it can be sliced in half. It still looks great. Again, pat into a tidy circle.

Continue cooking for five or six minutes, watching the heat. A fried egg can be added on top at this stage, or the steak.

Place on to a plate, and drizzle okonomi sauce on top. Then pour on the mayonnaise, in straight crisscross lines. Lastly add parsley and bonito flakes.


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One Comment to “Japanese pancake a taste sensation”

  1. […] bird life and giant salamandas (David) and the perfect coffee and other culinary treats like okonomiyaki (Annette).  There will be plenty to keep us busy, including visiting the smallest mountain in […]

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