Mmmm, Japanese savory pancake pizzas. Need I say more?
Okonomiyaki legend states that they were invented in Osaka, which is known as the Kitchen of Japan. The actual name comes from two Japanese words “okonomi” (“to one’s liking”) and “yaki” (“grilled”), and you can basically put whatever you want on an okonomiyaki. I stuck with the “basic” version, so just your usual cabbage-based pancake with bacon, green onions, bonito flakes, seaweed flakes, and okonomiyaki sauce. Actually, a “real” okonomiyaki would probably have slices of pork belly, Japanese kewpie mayo, and beni-shoga (pickled ginger). In other regions of Japan, you can get regional variations (for example, okonomiyaki with a fried egg, fried noodles, or different types of meat). I left out the mayo and ginger in mine since I already know that I’m not a big fan of those flavors in okonomiyaki, but if you’re making these for the first time, you should probably just go for broke and use everything!
(some of my “exotic” ingredients)
The okonomiyaki was pretty easy to put together and cook (except for the flipping – they’re so big that I had to use a plate as a spatula), although it was a bit of a day-long affair between my grocery shopping and cabbage chopping.
(I got yo’ cabbage)
So let’s talk about taste. Okonomiyaki are delicious, no ifs, ands, buts or about it. They’re very hearty (I had trouble eating an entire one for lunch) and very cabbage-y. The thick pancake stays moist and has a diverse textural profile. You get some fried crunchy bits from the outside, pops of crunch from the tempura bits, semi-soft cabbage, meaty chew, oh, and don’t forget about all the other ingredients. The okonomiyaki sauce also gives a salty/tangy kick that keeps the okonomiyaki popping! I guess the primary flavors are cabbage, salt, and umami (that earthy, soy-saucy goodness that keeps you going back for more), but the most important part is that the overall feeling you get from eating an okonomiyaki is satisfaction.
(Japanese mountain yam for the batter).
Oh, and just so you know, you can buy okonomiyaki mix and have perfectly good okonomiyaki…or you can be hardcore/have too much time on your hands. This is my recipe, and this is the one I followed (and I strongly encourage you to take a look at both, the version from Just Hungry has a lot more information and some great pictures).
4.25 out of 5 stackies: