Savoury and satisfying, okonomiyaki or Japanese pancakes are a simple, frugal meal with just a few ingredients.
Frugal can still be fabulous, as I’m showing you this week.
Okonomiyaki are Japanese savoury pancakes, sometimes referred to as Japanese pizza. The name comes from the word okonomi, meaning “what you like” or “what you want”, and yaki meaning “grilled” or “cooked”.
Traditionally they might include a combination of prawns, octopus, squid, chicken, pork, noodles, cheese or vegetables. The one constant is cabbage, and a bunch of awesome toppings including katsuobushi (bonito flakes) which dance in the hot steam. I use crispy shallots instead for a veg alternative.
Scale it right back to basics and you have a dense savoury pancake with cabbage as its main ingredient. That might sound a bit weird, but once the other toppings are added it’s some kind of savoury heaven in your mouth.
You can buy actual okonomiyaki sauce if you like, but it’s just as good with other less traditional things you might have on hand. Regular bbq sauce is great, tomato sauce mixed with soy sauce, Indonesian kecap manis (so untraditional, but so delicious with these) and obviously sriracha which is great with almost anything. Top that with a swirl of Japanese kewpie mayonnaise, some shredded nori, spring onions, crispy shallots and you have a serious case of yum.
And I mentioned this was frugal? Check it out, a filling and delicious meal from a hunk of cabbage, a spring onion, an egg and a bit of flour and water. Who’d have thought?
The basic quantities in this recipe are for one pancake, just multiply them if you’re cooking for more people. I’d recommend mixing each pancake individually just before it goes into the frypan, otherwise you’ll end up with dry cabbage on top and heaps of batter at the bottom of your bowl.
I suspect this could easily be made gluten free by using a different flour, as the batter is really only there to glue everything together and doesn’t need to rise. I haven’t experimented with this though so let me know if you do.
Go to town customising this to suit yourself, that’s the whole idea.
- Cabbage - about 1/8 of a small cabbage or two good handfuls finely sliced
- 1 spring onion, white part thinly sliced (reserve the green part for garnish)
- 1 free range egg
- 1/2 tsp soy sauce
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup water
- Oil for frying
To serve, your choice of:
- BBQ sauce
- Kewpie mayonnaise
- Kecap manis
- Spring onion greens, finely sliced
- Crispy shallots
- Nori, finely sliced/shredded
- Put cabbage, spring onion, egg, soy sauce, flour and water in a bowl and mix well to combine.
- Heat a frypan over a low to medium heat and add a splash of oil for frying.
- Tip the okonomiyaki mixture into the pan and use a spatula to form it into a round pancake about 2cm thick. Take your time cooking it - it's thick and you don't want raw mixture in the middle. When golden brown on the bottom, carefully flip and cook the other side until golden too. It's not essential, but I find it helpful to put a lid on the frypan for some of the cooking time to help it cook through.
- Remove from the pan and serve immediately, or keep warm in a low oven while you cook more pancakes.
- Top with your choice of condiments, slice into wedges and enjoy!