Okonomiyaki is a Japanese source of pride! It’s consider an Osaka delicacy and it is one of the most famous Japanese foods in all of the world. Okonomiyaki is a Japanese pancake made from flour, eggs, shredded cabbage, and meat.
Osaka local foods are surprisingly expanding all over the world. When you ask ‘Please name one of the Japanese dishes you know’, some answers are probably centered on food created in Osaka like Takoyaki, kushi-katsu, Okonomiyaki and more.
What is Okonomiyaki?
Some people call Okonomiyaki a Japanese pancake. Yes, it is soft and you actually use flour but Japanese people think Okonomiyaki is a lunch or dinner meal and we don’t consider it a pancake. Okonomiyaki was actually created in Tokyo a long time ago, and it’s expanded to all of Japan and Osaka. Hiroshima accepts it as one of their main foods. Since then, Okonomiyaki is so famous especially for being from Osaka.
Another surprise, when comparing Osaka and Hiroshima, there are more Okonomiyaki restaurants in Hiroshima than Osaka. The reason is Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki includes more steps to make while Osaka-style is easier so there are many households that prefer to make it at home.
5 Important Ingredients for Okonomiyaki
You can make your own Okonomiyaki. But making Okonomiyaki needs 5 important ingredients besides your favorites.
1. Nagaimo / Yamaimo
Nagaimo is Chinese yam in English. It is an important ingredient that helps make the texture of okonomiyaki nice and fluffy and not too doughy. Right after you grate it, it is sticky but after you cook, it makes the okonomiyaki so fluffy. Some people have an allergic reaction, so when you grate Chinese yam, wear kitchen gloves.
It can be difficult to find this ingredient in the U.S. so I use cake flour because it expands and gets fluffy in a similar way. If you can find Nagaimo then this is the classic way to make this recipe!
2. Okonomiyaki sauce
Adding Okonomiyaki sauce makes big difference! I personally love to use it for so many dishes such as Hambagu, Korokke, and Tonkatsu. Okonomiyaki sauce has a rich and deep flavor and when you taste it, you will fall in love!
You can buy Okonomiyaki sauce at Asian grocery stores, but I saw some local stores sell the sauce these days. I found Okonomiyaki sauce on amazon and it’s actually affordable!
3. Japanese Mayonnaise
Japanese Mayonnaise is probably one of the ingredients you should have if you cook Japanese/ Asian food a lot! People often wonder what the big difference is between American mayonnaise and Japanese mayonnaise and I think Japanese mayonnaise is tangier and sweeter than the American mayo. The reason is because Japanese mayonnaise uses egg yolks only while American mayonnaise uses the entire egg.
If you are new to Japanese mayonnaise, buy kewpie and you won’t regret it! I have been using this brand for my whole life.
4. Tenkasu (tempura bits/scraps)
I think so many people haven’t heard of Tenkasu. Tenkasu is tempura’s scraps and it makes the flavor of the Okonomiyaki batter deep and rich. I like adding Tenkasu, and classic okonomiyaki always contains it, but If you don’t have it I think you can skip.
I buy it on amazon! They are cheap and doesn’t have much price difference between grocery stores.
Yes, must have! Katsuobushi is a Japanese preserved food made from bonito. Katsuobushi is so useful. You can use it for making dashi as well. It won’t go bad quickly so I recommend it! This is also easy to find at any Asian grocery store. I can say most Asian stores have it. HERE is to buy Katsuobushi!
Q&A Often asked about Okonomiyaki
I will introduce some questions and answers often asked about Okonomiyaki!
Q&A : What is the difference between Osaka style and Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki
Hiroshima-Style Okonomiyaki uses almost the same ingredients, but they are layered rather than mixed in with the batter like Osaka-style. Not only that, fried egg and yakisoba noodles (or sometimes udon noodles) are used as toppings.
Q&A : How to make Okonomiyaki quickly and easily
There is Okonomiyaki Flour (Mix) at Japanese grocery stores! You can skip some of the ingredients using this particular flour. You add this Okonomiyaki flour, water, and eggs to make okonomiyaki batter. Using this, you don’t need Tenkasu, and Chinese yam!
How to make Osaka Okonomiyaki
- Gather all the ingredients.
- Add cake flour, salt, black pepper and dashi powder into a medium to large bowl. Mix roughly.
- Add water, eggs, and tenkasu in the bowl and mix roughly.
- Cut the cabbage thinly.
- Add the cabbage into the bowl. Mix them roughly.
- In a small or medium pan, turn the heat to medium and add 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil. When the frying pan reaches 335ºF (168°c), add the batter and shape to circle. Good Okonomiyaki is thick, ¾ inches(2 cm).
- Add 2 pieces of sliced pork belly on top of Okonomiyaki cake and cook for 5 minutes with a lid.
- After 5 minutes, check the bottom is nicely browned and flip over (pork belly is on the bottom now).
- Press the Okonomiyaki gently and cover with a lid. Cook for 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes, turn the heat to low and open the lid. Flip over and cook for 2 minutes. (pork belly is on top now)
- Let's serve! Add mayonnaise, okonomiyaki sauce, katsuobushi, and aonori (dried green seaweed) on top of the okonomiyaki! If you don't have katsuobushi, and aonori, you can skip. I think just adding mayonnaise and okonomiyaki is amazingly delicious.