Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き) is a Japanese savoury pancake made with flour, eggs, finely-chopped cabbage and customizable add-ins such as shrimp, scallops, bacon, chicken, bell peppers, and mushrooms. Cooked to a perfect crisp on an iron griddle, okonomiyaki is then adorned with tasty toppings like okonomiyaki sauce, Japanese mayo, bonito flakes, green seaweed flakes and red pickled ginger, each contributing to the flavour symphony that makes this dish so wildly delicious. There are also variations in the batter, fillings and toppings depending on region.
This version is based on the most popular style of okonomiyaki, originating from Osaka. I fell in love with this style of okonomiyaki when I lived around the corner from a long-standing, tucked-away gem of a restaurant called Okonomi House in Toronto. Next to experiencing the real deal in Osaka or a place like Okonomi House, making okonomiyaki at home is fun and very doable. Plus, I’m all about any recipe loaded with veggies and protein that qualify as a proper standalone meal. And just as the word “okonomi” means “as you like” in Japanese, feel free to tailor the add-ins and toppings to your taste, substituting in different proteins or making it vegetarian.
The Japanese ingredients used in this dish (instant dashi powder, okonomiyaki sauce, Japanese mayonnaise, katsuobushi and aonori) can be found at most large Japanese, Chinese and Korean supermarkets.
For the okonomiyaki batter
For the okonomiyaki batter, in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, instant dashi powder (if using). Add water and whisk – it should be very thick. Add eggs and whisk to incorporate.
Into the batter, stir in pickled ginger and scallions. Add cabbage in gradually (it will seem like a lot of cabbage but rest assured, it is supposed to be thick with just enough batter to bind everything). Fold in scallops and shrimp.
Related: Japanese Fruit Sandos
Heat skillet over medium heat and drizzle with oil. Alternatively, you can use a cast iron griddle (smooth side) to cook multiple okonomiyaki at once, just use separate pot lids for each pancake.
Scoop one quarter of okonomiyaki batter onto skillet and form into a circle about 6-inches in diameter and 1-inch thick. Scatter ¼ of pork belly or bacon pieces on top and cover with lid. Cook for 4-5 minutes or when the bottom is lovely and brown. Flip using two flat spatulas. Cover and cook another 4-5 minutes or until second side is brown. Flip once more so bacon side is facing up again.
Cook uncovered one minute more. Transfer to serving plate or keep warm in 200 F oven. Repeat with remaining three pancakes, reducing heat to medium-low to prevent pan from over-heating and burning the remaining pancakes.
To serve, spread a layer of okonomiyaki sauce (2 Tbsp per pancake), followed by squiggles of Japanese mayo, a generous heap of bonito flakes, sprinkles of green seaweed flakes and more red pickled ginger, if using.