When our host, Masato in Kyoto asked if we wanted to try Japanese pizza I thought he might be reading my mind. I had been craving pizza for days, even if it was Japanese style I wanted some. The small neighborhood eatery that he took us to was the perfect setting to enjoy a beer and a slice. However, the pizza wasn’t exactly what I was expecting.
Okinamayaki being prepared at the restaurant Nuarusoe we ate at in Arashiyama
Okonomiyaki is more commonly known as a kind of Japanese-style pancake, which from my experience is a more accurate description than pizza. There are a variety of ingredients and toppings for this famous dish. It is made from a simple batter with cabbage and then you decide what else goes into it. I tried a pork one and thinkCHUA went for beef, while Masato had his with seafood and noodles. They are very filling and drenched in sauce, which even after eating the whole thing I couldn’t decide if that was good or bad. Either way I was glad that I tried this dish and might even give it a try in my own kitchen with a few tweeks.
Below is a recipe to make Osaka-style okonomiyaki written by Setsuko Yoshizuka, whom learned the recipe from watching her mother and grandmother cook as is the way many Japanese learn to make traditional dishes. This recipe is basic, leaving room for you to add more vegetables or make substitutions where appropriate. Enjoy!
Yield: Makes 4-6 “pancakes” or “pizzas”, whichever you prefer
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cup dashi soup stock or water
- 4-6 eggs
- 1 – 1 1/2 lb cabbage, finely chopped
- 4-6 Tbsp chopped green onion
- 1/2-3/4 cup tenkasu (tempura flakes)
- 12-18 strips of thinly sliced pork or beef
- vegetable oil
- ao-nori (dried seaweed powder)
- okonomiyaki sauce (this is still a mystery to me, it tasted like a cross between BBQ sauce and sweet and sour sauce, it can be skipped if you ask me.)
- katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) *optional
- beni-shoga (pickled red ginger) *optional
Put flour in a large bowl. Pour dashi and mix to make the batter, stirring until the lumps are out just like when making pancake batter. Rest the batter for about an hour in the refrigerator. To make one sheet of okonimiyaki, take out about 1/2 cup of the batter in another bowl. Mix about 1/4 lb of chopped cabbage, about 1 Tbsp of chopped green onion, and about 2 Tbsp of tempura flakes in the batter. Add an egg and stir. Heat an electric pan or skillet and oil lightly (canola oil or sesame oil works best). Pour the batter in the pan and make a round shape. Cook for about 5-7 minutes. Meanwhile, fry a couple slices of meat on the side and place the meat on top of the okonomiyaki. Flip the okonomiyaki and cook for about 5 minutes or until cooked through. Flip the okonomiyaki again and spread okonomiyaki sauce and mayonnaise on top. Sprinkle aonori over the sauce. Sprinkle katsuobushi and beni-shoga if you would like.
Sauce seems to be what makes the dish, but I could have enjoyed these “pancakes” with a little less mayonaise.