Osaka style Okonomiyaki is an iconic Japanese street food. A delicious savory pancake topped with a rich sauce, mayonnaise and other various toppings. Not only does it taste great, but you can also make it from scratch at home!
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What is Okonomiyaki? what is special about it?
Okonomiyaki （お好み焼き）is a savory pancake type dish made with a batter and filled with meat and vegetables. It's usually topped with a delicious fruity okonomiyaki sauce and drizzled with Japanese mayonnaise.
It is mostly popular in Osaka and Hiroshima and they are always arguing which one is authentic or better.
There's no compromise in this argument, after all, "okonomi" means "as you like". It depends on your own preference!
Osaka style Okonomiyaki vs Hiroshima style Okonomiyaki
The main difference between Osaka-style Okonomiyaki and Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki are:
|Osaka style||Hiroshima style|
|Batter||Ingredients are mixed beforehand||Ingredients are added one by one|
|Noodles||Doesn't use noodles||Includes yakisoba|
Well, there's no deciding which is better for outsiders like me (I'm from Aichi so I don't need to be loyal), thankfully I can appreciate both of them!
One of the beauties of Japanese food is that each region has different dishes and unique styles of food. So if the battle between Osaka and Hiroshima goes on forever, that's fine with a foodie like me! They're both beautiful!
This is a recipe for Osaka style okonomiyaki, but if you're interested in Hiroshima style, please check out my Hiroshima Style Okonomiyaki recipe here!
Okonomiyaki Ingredients: what is okonomiyaki batter made of?
As I mentioned earlier, Okonomi（お好み）means "anything as you wish" so you can put anything you like in there. Okonomiyaki batter is made with weak flour and dashi. There is also special "okonomiyaki flour" that already contains dashi which saves time.
The most basic one mainly contains pork and cabbage but lots of restaurants have interesting twists. They're also usually topped with Japanese mayonnaise, nori seaweed powder called "aonori" and bonito flakes called "katsuobushi".
You can buy an Okonomiyaki kit on Amazon that contains Okonomiyaki flour, aonori, tenkasu (tempura crumbs) and sticky potato "yam powder" which enhances flavour and texture. This kit is great for making authentic tasting Japanese okonomiyaki.
Here are a few ideas for ingredients you can add to okonomiyaki!
- Mochi (Rice cake)
- Sweet corn
- Tenkasu (deep fried batter crumbs)
- Sakura ebi (tiny dried shrimps)
- Snacks like potato chips or nuts
- Avocado...the list goes on
Because you can add anything you like, you can also take out the meat and make it vegetarian. Don't feel like you have to stick to the recipe, you can be creative and liberate yourself!
How to Cook Okonomiyaki: how do you heat okonomiyaki?
If you eat okonomiyaki in Japan, you'll see that okonomiyaki is usually cooked in front of customers on a large, smooth iron griddle called a "teppan" (鉄板). We also have restaurants with a teppan in the middle of the table where you're given the ingredients to cook by yourself, it's pretty fun to go there with friends.
Dishes cooked on a teppan are called "teppanyaki". Some examples of teppanyaki include:
"Yaki" (焼き) means to grill or fry, which is why many of the dishes have "yaki" in the name.
Many Japanese families own a teppanyaki hot plate which we place in the middle of the table, so we can eat and cook. My family uses the hot plate to crisp up tortillas when we have taco night too.
Although it's way to cook in Japan, you don't need a teppan grill to make okonomiyaki. You can use a regular frying pan!
10 Tips to make an amazing Okonomiyaki at home
The world of okonomiyaki is complex. It's simple to make, yet hard to perfect it. People have their own ways to make it and many methods bring controversy.
There is no true "right way" to make it, but there are a lot of tips out there and I want to share with you here so that you can build your own okonomiyaki cooking style at home!
Chop the cabbage into small rough pieces
It is undeniable that cabbage is one of the most important ingredients for okonomiyaki and cabbage is recommended to be cut roughly yet finely.
If you cut it too thin or too finely, it tends to become watery and sticky. By cutting it small but roughly, you can enjoy the texture of the cabbage while avoiding all of these above.
If you wanna go for extra mile with cabbage, some professionals put the cut cabbage in the fridge for an hour to let it dry out before adding it to the batter which also helps prevents watery/sticky okonomiyaki.
Cool down the dashi completely
In my recipe, I use dashi stock for the batter but whatever recipe you use, make sure to let dashi cool completely.
If you use hot dashi, the gluten from the flour will be released and the mixture will easily become sticky. It is best to cool and chill dashi in the refrigerator beforehand.
You can learn how to make your own dashi from scratch with my homemade dashi recipe.
If you don't have a sieve, use can also use a fine mesh colander. Sifting the flour will help eliminate lumps of flour, and the air will help make the dough fluffy.
Mix well, but do not over-mix
This is probably the most well known tip for making okonomiyaki. Here, mixing refers to the okonomiyaki batter.
Basically, we mix the batter (Flour, eggs and dashi) first and let it rest in the fridge. We add the fillings right before cooking. This is typical for Osaka style Okonomiyaki at least. We mix until the ingredients are evenly incorporated into the batter.
However, it is important not to mix too much to the point where it becomes foamy. The water in the cabbage will start to come out, and the batter will become soggy, causing change of consistency.
When batter is mixed, the gluten in the flour reacts with the dashi/water to make it moderately sticky. Overmixing can make it too sticky and the dough becomes dense.
Also, if possible, it is better to mix the batter for one okonomiyaki at a time. If you're making multiple and put ingredients together at the same time, the fillings tend to sink. You might find your first okonomiyaki doesn't have enough fillings and your last one has too many.
Rest the batter in the fridge
This is not necessary but some restaurants rest okonomiyaki batter in the fridge for 30 min to 1 hour.
By doing that, it allows the moisture to spread evenly and ends up making the batter even and fluffy. It also stops the batter from spreading too much helping you create a thicker okonomiyaki.
Adding cabbage right before cooking
If the cabbage is left to soak in the batter for a long time, the water from the cabbage will be released, resulting the batter being soggy. Therefore, cabbage should be added just before cooking.
You don't have to use thinly sliced pork belly
Using thinly sliced pork is definitely the most common meat to use, but slightly thicker sliced pork belly is also a good choice. The flavor of the pork is transferred to the dough, making it more delicious. It also makes the dough more satisfying to eat.
And adding a pinch of salt and pepper to the pork beforehand creates more satisfying overall experience.
How thick and big should the okonomiyaki be?
It is always tricky to think how big and thick okonomiyaki should be. Some restaurants have small and thick ones, and others have the opposite.
However, according to interesting research by famous Japanese TV show, "Wafu Sohonke (和風総本家)", the average thickness and size are: iameter 16.4cm, thickness 1.9cm. Again, you don't have to be precise like that of course but it's interesting to know!
After placing the pork on top, do not touch it unnecessarily. The key to fluffy okonomiyaki is to keep the air inside the dough from escaping, so don't touch it too much.
If you move it, it can lose its shape, and if you press it down, the okonomiyaki gets hard.
Add meringue (Highly optional and controversial)
Although it is sometimes considered heresy and it takes a bit of effort, separating eggs and make meringue with the egg whites can make the batter extra fluffy.
Lots of people use this method instead of adding sticky yams and this is a good option if you can't get hold of them.
3 Common problems and solutions
In this section, I will round up common problems that occur while making okonomiyaki and solutions to avoid them.
Inside of the pancake is raw
This is probably by far the biggest problem in making okonomiyaki. I have experienced this countless times in my life from being impatient.
To check the "doneness", you can simply use a bamboo skewer or wooden chopsticks to check if the centre of the okonomiyaki is cooked or not. Stick it into okonomiyaki, and if it comes out clean, it means most likely done.
Alternatively, if the bamboo skewer feels warm or hot, it's likely cooked through as well.
This problem of okonomiyaki being raw in the middle comes from cooking it with a too high heat. If you cook it over high heat, only the surface will be cooked quickly, and by the time it's cooked all the way through, the surface will be burnt.
So make sure to cook it over medium heat until firm inside.
How to fix raw okonomiyaki
So you've served up your okonomiyaki, covered it in topping and cut into it... only to find it's still raw in the middle!
Even if your okonomiyaki was not done enough, don't throw it away! You can fix the okonomiyaki by either returning it to the frying pan or teppanyaki and cooking over low heat with lid on in frying pan or cook in a microwave (600W) for 1 minute with cling film over the top.
Following these techniques will save your okonomiyaki, although the appearance might be a bit compromised.
Okonomiyaki being too soft and soggy
This problem comes from only one reason, too much water content. This does not simply mean the water you put in the batter, but also because of the other water source such as cabbages or yams.
So it's important to be aware of how much cabbage or yams you add as well as when and how.
As I mentioned in the tip section, I recommend adding cabbage right before cooking.
It's too crumbly
This problem is often to do with either not enough eggs / not using eggs at all.
If the amount of egg is not enough, the batter will fall apart easily, and the okonomiyaki may not set properly. If you use small eggs, maybe it's worth using one more.
Eggs kind of act as glue that holds the batter and ingredients together, so without eggs, the ingredients tend to flake off and fall out when the pancake is done.
So if you forget to add eggs, the okonomiyaki may not set properly.
Check out our video for How to Make homemade OkonomiyakiPrint
Step by step recipe
Okonomiyaki is a type of Japanese style savory pancake, most commonly made with eggs, cabbage and pork. There are two famous types, Osaka style and Hiroshima style.
Osaka style mixes the ingredients into the batter and fries everything together. Hiroshima style is cooked in layers and often contains noodles.
Specialist okonomiyaki flour is a simple mixture of cake flour (with low gluten content), dashi powder, starch and yam powder. It's easy to use but not essential for making okonomiyaki.
Okonomiyaki sauce is a tangy and glossy sauce. In my recipe I use Worcestershire sauce, oyster sauce, ketchup, honey and soy sauce.
In Japanese homes, we usually use store bought sauce. The brand "otafuku" is the most popular.
Okonomiyaki is very filling and we often eat it on its own. We also enjoy it with other teppanyaki dishes such as yakisoba or monjayaki.
Okonomiyaki is a Japanese pancake with pork and cabbage, whereas takoyaki is a small dumpling, made from a thin batter and cooked in a special circular mold so that it becomes a round ball shape.