My Japanese friends will recognize this as a popular way to end an evening of drinking with friends. My non-Japanese friends not familiar with this dish know me well enough to trust me when I say this is good stuff. Think of it as an Asian cousin to a big potato pancake or latke.
Okonomiyaki translated into English means “as you like it”. It’s a savory pancake, usually cooked by the diners at the table on special flat top grills. They are filled with whatever the diner chooses, usually meat, seafood or finely chopped vegetables and almost always topped with a savory brown sauce and Japanese style mayonnaise.
Okonomiyaki couldn’t be easier to make. Here, I’ve used a commercial mix from Kikkoman that also doubles as a base for tempura, but if that’s not available in your area, the following recipe works equally well. My fillings of choice are common ingredients in Japan and include shredded cabbage, shrimp and green onions, but any favorite shredded meat, seafood or vegetable can be used. The internet is loaded with options for other fillings.
The sauce can be made from scratch but excellent bottled sauces are readily available in supermarkets that stock Asian staples (I particularly like the Tonkatsu sauce made by Kikkoman).
Pair this with some cold Japanese beer and a baseball game on TV for a favorite Japanese evening with friends. The following recipe will serve two but can be doubled for more servings.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon corn starch
½ tsp baking powder
2/3 cup stock (dashi, and if dashi isn’t available use any broth)
2 cups finely shredded green cabbage
½ lb medium shrimp (51-60 size)
3 green onions finely sliced
1 tablespoon canola or peanut oil
Mayonnaise and Tonkatsu sauce (see below)
Finely minced green onions
Japanese Furikake seasoning (optional but very good-worth seeking out)
Combine the flour, cornstarch, and baking powder in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk the broth and egg together and add to the flour mixture to make a medium-thick pancake batter.
Add all of the cabbage, shrimp and green onions (will seem like a lot of cabbage, but this is how it should be). Preheat the oil in a non-stick sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the all of the pancake mix and flatten to the depth of the shrimp with a spatula.
Lower the heat to medium and cook for about 15 minutes, flipping several times, until golden brown on both sides.
Serve right away with the mayonnaise and Tonkatsu sauce drizzled over the top.
Makes one large or two medium pancakes and will serve two people.
½ cup ketchup
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup sake or dry sherry
¼ cup dark soy sauce
½ tsp sugar
Stir all of the ingredients until the sugar is dissolved, Serve on the side in dipping bowls or drizzled over top of the pancake.