Explainers

How to make okonomiyaki

Made with tempera flour, this grilled Japanese pancake snack can be dressed up or down with your favourite toppings.
Overhead shot of a single okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake) on a green plate with chopsticks and blue cloth in frame

How to make okonomiyaki, step by step.

John Paul Urizar

Osaka is often referred to as Japan’s kitchen, and okonomiyaki is the street food turned culinary staple that has reverberated from the city across the world. Originating in the 1900s during the Taishō and Shōwa periods, when wheat flour spread among the general public, these days the grilled Japanese pancake snack can be found in yokocho (late-night dining allies) and restaurants alike. With “yaki” meaning grilled and “okonomi” meaning “as you like”, this Osaka style okonomiyaki recipe can be filled or topped with whatever you like, be it thinly sliced pork or pork belly, squid, tempura or bonito flakes, green onions, shredded cabbage, or cooked prawns.

Ingredients

Teriyaki sauce

  • 125ml mirin

  • 125ml soy sauce

  • 2 tbsp cooking sake

  • 50gm caster sugar

  • 2 crushed garlic cloves

  • 20gm finely grated ginger

Okonomiyaki batter

  • 150gm tempura flour

  • 220ml water

Cabbage filling

  • 280gm white cabbage, cut into 1cm pieces

  • 5 tbsp grapeseed oil

  • 2 crushed garlic cloves

  • ½ tsp shichimi togarashi

  • 3 small spring onions, cut into 3cm batons

Step 1

For teriyaki sauce, place 125ml mirin, 125ml soy sauce, 2 tbsp cooking sake, 50gm caster sugar, 2 crushed garlic cloves, and 20gm finely grated ginger in a saucepan over high heat and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium, simmer, and reduce until syrupy (12-15 minutes); cool to room temperature, then strain.

Step 2

Meanwhile, for batter, mix 150gm tempura flour with 220ml water in a large bowl and set aside to rest in fridge (30 minutes).

Step 3

For cabbage filling, cut 280gm white cabbage into 1cm pieces. Heat a frying pan with 2½ tbsp grapeseed oil over medium-high heat. Cook cabbage with 2 crushed garlic cloves and ½ tsp shichimi togarashi, tossing occasionally, until softened (3-4 minutes). Set aside to cool.

Step 4

Step 4

Add cooled cabbage mixture with 3 small spring onions cut into 3cm batons to batter; mix to combine.

Step 5

Heat a 20cm cast-iron or heavy-based frying pan over high heat and add 2½ tbsp grapeseed oil. Add half batter and using a large metal spoon spread batter evenly over base of pan. Reduce heat to medium and cook until light golden and set on base (3 minutes).

Step 5

It can be tricky to flip your pancake if the batter is slightly runny. In step 5, cover batter with a lid to set batter then flip to colour each side.

Step 6

Flip over and cook until light golden and cooked through (3 minutes). Increase heat to high and cook each side for a further 1 minute, adding extra oil if needed, until golden and crisp. Repeat with remaining batter.

Step 6

Step 7

Transfer pancakes to serving plates and brush with teriyaki sauce. Drizzle each with mayonnaise, and serve scattered with thinly sliced spring onion, pickled ginger, aonori and kastuobushi and season with togarashi

Aonori (dried, chopped seaweed), katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) and shichimi togarashi are available from Japanese grocers. Teriyaki sauce can be stored in an airtight container, refrigerated for up to 3 months.

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