Okonomiyaki Recipe お好み焼き • Just One Cookbook

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Okonomiyaki is a savory Japanese cabbage pancake “grilled as you like it“ with your choice of protein and tasty condiments and toppings. My recipe for this popular Osaka street food includes the 3 key ingredients that give it a truly authentic taste.

A white ceramic plate containing Okonomiyaki, a savory Japanese cabbage pancake topped with okonomi sauce, Kewpie mayo, and bonito flakes.

Among all the Osaka specialties, Takoyaki (たこ焼き) and Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き) are the most well-known. Today I’m sharing my favorite Okonomiyaki recipe with you so you can make this popular street food at home!

What is Okonomiyaki?

Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き) is a savory Japanese cabbage pancake. I’ve seen okonomiyaki referred to as a “Japanese pizza” or “Japanese frittata” in the U.S.

The batter is made with flour, tempura scraps (tenkasu), grated yam (nagaimo or yamaimo), and eggs. It’s then mixed with shredded cabbage and sometimes additional ingredients like shrimp and squid. A classic topping is pork belly slices, placed on top of the savory pancake while grilling. Once cooked, okonomiyaki is topped with a variety of condiments such as okonomiyaki sauce, Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise, dried seaweed, and dried bonito flakes.

This dish is highly adaptable even if you don’t eat pork or prefer another protein choice. The possibility for the filling and topping choices are endless, which is why this dish in Japanese translates to “grilled as you like it” – Okonomi (as you like it) Yaki (grill).

Why This Recipe Works

I’ve been making this recipe for my family and friends for over a decade, and everyone loves it.

  • Easy and quick to make – Mix all the ingredients and cook!
  • Budget-friendly – It’s a satisfying dish with economical ingredients.
  • Family and kid-friendly – Okonomiyaki is customizable, and it’s fun to cook with family and friends at the table.
  • Freezes and reheats well – I make ahead for future busy evenings. It’s a great meal prep dish!
A white ceramic plate containing Okonomiyaki, a savory Japanese cabbage pancake topped with okonomi sauce, Kewpie mayo, and bonito flakes.

Ingredients for Okonomiyaki

To make really good authentic okonomiyaki, certain ingredients are necessary. Okonomiyaki tastes much better compared to versions that omit them. Read below for vegan/vegetarian options.

For the base batter

  • All-purpose flour (plain flour)
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Baking powder – Use aluminum-free baking powder like this.
  • Grated mountain yam (nagaimo/yamaimo) – Can’t find it? Check out the substations below.
  • Dashi (Japanese soup stock) – Never made this before? Read more about this topic in the section below. Use Vegan Dashi for vegan/vegetarian.

For the Okonomiyaki

  • Eggs – Use JUST Egg for vegan.
  • Tenkasu (tempura scraps) – Read more about this in the section below.
  • Pickled red ginger (kizami shoga)
  • Green cabbage
  • Sliced pork belly (skip for vegan/vegetarian) – This is the most popular and classic topping, but check out other options I listed in the section below.

Jump to Recipe

How to Make the Best Okonomiyaki

Check out the recipe card below for the full step-by-step tutorials, but here is a quick overview:

  1. Make the base batter. It’s said that making the base batter ahead of time improves the flavor and fluffiness of the okonomiyaki. It’s up to you. You can at least rest the batter a little while you prep other ingredients.
  2. Prep the ingredients. Cut all the ingredients. Make sure to drain the cabbage well so the moisture won’t dilute the batter. The salad spinner comes in handy!
  3. Make the okonomiyaki batter. Add eggs, tempura scraps, chopped red pickled ginger, then finely chopped cabbage. Mix them all together.
  4. Cook the okonomiyaki batter in frying pans or an electric griddle. I said pans (plural) so that you can cook two savory pancakes at a time.
  5. Add condiments and toppings. Enjoy!
A white ceramic plate containing Okonomiyaki, a savory Japanese cabbage pancake topped with okonomi sauce, Kewpie mayo, and bonito flakes.

3 Key Ingredients and Their Substitutes

Let’s deep dive into the most important ingredients for okonomiyaki.

1. Nagaimo (Yamaimo)

Nagaimo | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

This is Japanese long yam (nagaimo) and it’s the most important ingredient to yield a non-doughy, fluffy okonomiyaki. Grated nagaimo yields a slimy, slippery, thick liquid, akin to lightly beaten egg whites. When cooked, it adds volume to the batter and creates a fluffy okonomiyaki.

Alternatively, you can use Japanese mountain yam (yamaimo) instead of nagaimo, but yamaimo is a thick and paste-like texture while nagaimo is a loose and liquid texture.

Some people may get an allergic reaction (like itching), so you can wear a kitchen glove to grate or wash your hands quickly.

You can purchase nagaimo/yamaimo at Japanese and most Asian grocery stores.

Nagaimo Substitute

After I tested a few substitute options I found on the internet, I think the combination of baking powder and beaten egg whites works the best.

  • Baking powder — It’s a good substitute. Since we already add baking powder to this recipe, you’re just increasing it a little. I would double the amount in the recipe.
  • Beaten egg whites — Another good substitute. Fluffy egg whites add volume to the savory pancake. Beat 2 egg whites for this recipe.
  • Grated taro — I haven’t tried this, but it’s another “slimy and gooey” texture slightly similar to nagaimo. I will need to try this one day.
  • Well-drained tofu — I don’t think it will work as well, but tofu gives a texture that is not dense. It might be an okay substitute, but be careful with moisture released by the tofu, as it dilutes the batter.
  • Grated potatoes — NEVER use this as a substitute! The grainy texture of grated potatoes does not have any effect on the okonomiyaki except for adding cooked potato texture. We’re not making potato pancakes!
  • Grated lotus root — I haven’t tried this, but I assume it has a similar texture as grated potato, so I don’t think it would add fluffiness to okonomiyaki.

2. Tenkasu (Tempura Bits/Scraps)

Tenkasu (Tempura Crisps)

This is another ingredient to make the batter fluffier. When you see ‘tempura scraps,’ you might wonder if you can avoid it. Well, I understand it is not a healthy ingredient; however, many people in Osaka claim this is one of the most important ingredients, next to nagaimo/yamaimo. Fried food adds rich flavor, depth, and complexity to the dish.

You can buy a bag of tenkasu from Amazon or Japanese grocery stores.

Tenkasu Substitute

You can make your tempura scraps using the leftover batter. All you need is to drop the batter into hot oil and scoop it up when golden brown.

Some people online suggest substituting tenkasu with Asian shrimp chimps (Kappa Ebisen, かっぱえびせん). I haven’t tried that, but it sort of has a similar texture and flavor.

3. Dashi (Japanese soup stock)

Dashi 3 Ways

Dashi, or Japanese soup stock, is the key ingredient for most Japanese foods. It’s what makes Japanese food authentic. Without dashi, it’s not a true okonomiyaki!

The best part is that it’s super quick and easy to make! Please do not substitute dashi with water, vegetable stock, or chicken stock.

There are three ways to make dashi.

  1. Homemade dashi — You can make a basic Awase Dashi from scratch by steeping kombu (edible kelp) and katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) in water. If you’re vegetarian/vegan, use Kombu Dashi or make Vegan Dashi with kombu and dried shiitake mushrooms.
  2. Dashi packet — The dashi packet is the best shortcut method that I use often. Similar to making tea, you steep the dashi packet in water and cook for a couple of minutes. Despite its quick method, the flavor of dashi is good.
  3. Dashi powder — Dashi powder (dashi granules) is my least favorite method due to its lack of flavor. The flavor and fragrance do not last long. But you can make a quick dashi with just dashi powder and hot water.

Condiments and Toppings

Thanks to online shops like Amazon, we can get all these Japanese condiments and toppings easily these days. Make your okonomiyaki authentic with the following items!

  • Okonomiyaki sauce – The taste of the okonomiyaki strongly relies on the okonomiyaki sauce. I love the Otafuku brand’s Okonomi Sauce, which you can get from Amazon or Japanese/Asian grocery stores. For those who can’t get this sauce, I made a homemade version using just four ingredients. This homemade version tastes good, similar to Otafuku sauce!
  • Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise – Osaka’s specialty, both Takoyaki and Okonomiyaki, has squirts of mayonnaise along with the sweet-savory takoyaki/okonomi sauce. But this is optional even for locals. I love the combination of flavors from both sweet savory okonomi sauce and creamy and tangy mayo. You can purchase a Kewpie brand from Amazon and Japanese/Asian grocery stores or you can make Homemade Japanese Mayonnaise.
  • Katsuobushi (Dried Bonito Flakes) – Katsuobushi is shaved flakes of fermented and smoked bonito and these flakes are super paper-thin! It’s a super umami-rich ingredient that’s used for making dashi (Japanese soup stock). When you sprinkle them on top of the okonomiyaki, they dance along with the steam! You can buy it from Amazon and Japanese/Asian grocery stores. You can omit this ingredient if you dislike the fishy smell.
  • Aonori (Dried Green Seaweed) – It is dried green (ao) seaweed (nori) flakes/powder. This umami-rich seaweed has a bright, intense green color and a unique fragrance. You can buy aonori from Amazon and Japanese/Asian grocery stores. Or you can substitute with regular nori if you can’t find it. Interesting fact: In ancient Japan, ao (pronounced as [ah-o]) means green in the traditional Japanese language. There were 4 colors; white, black, red, and green. These days, ao means blue in contemporary Japanese.
A white ceramic plate containing Okonomiyaki, a savory Japanese cabbage pancake topped with okonomi sauce, Kewpie mayo, and bonito flakes.

Optional Add-On Ingredients for Okonomiyaki

Besides the key ingredients above, there are other ingredients that you can add to the batter.

Can We Use Okonomiyaki Flour (Mix)?

okonomiyaki flour

You can find a bag of Okonomiyaki Flour (Mix) at Japanese/Asian grocery stores. Just like pancake mix, all you need to do is add the egg(s) and water to the flour. After making the okonomiyaki batter, add shredded cabbage and other ingredients, if you like. It’s easy and quick, but I still like to recommend making your own okonomiyaki batter from scratch at home!

A white ceramic plate containing Okonomiyaki, a savory Japanese cabbage pancake topped with okonomi sauce, Kewpie mayo, and bonito flakes.

Okonomiyaki Restaurants in Japan

You can enjoy this dish at okonomiyaki restaurants (Okonomiyaki-ya お好み焼き屋) throughout Japan. There are usually 3 dining options:

  1. At a counter in front of a huge teppan (iron griddle), the chefs make them right in front of you.
  2. At a table that has built-in teppan (iron griddle), you can cook your own, but the staff will help you make it if you ask.
  3. The okonomiyaki is prepared and made in the kitchen, and they place it on a teppan (iron griddle) in front of you to keep it warm.

Besides restaurants, you can also purchase steaming hot okonomiyaki from street vendors during festivals (matsuri).

It’s not easy to replicate the food made on a hot iron griddle at home, and okonomiyaki made on the iron griddle simply tastes better. This is why sometimes I still choose to go to a restaurant even though I can make it easily at home.

A white ceramic plate containing Okonomiyaki, a savory Japanese cabbage pancake topped with okonomi sauce, Kewpie mayo, and bonito flakes.

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.

A black plate containing Hiroshima-style OKonomiyaki topped with the savory sauce and Japanese mayo.

If you prefer the Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki recipe, click here.

What to Serve with Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki is made with cabbage, eggs, and flour, so I recommend serving it with various vegetable and protein-packed side dishes.

A white ceramic plate containing Okonomiyaki, a savory Japanese cabbage pancake topped with okonomi sauce, Kewpie mayo, and bonito flakes.

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A white ceramic plate containing Okonomiyaki, a savory Japanese cabbage pancake topped with okonomi sauce, Kewpie mayo, and bonito flakes.

Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki is a delicious Japanese savory pancake “grilled as you like it“ with your choice of protein and tasty condiments and toppings. My recipe for this popular Osaka street food includes the 6 key ingredients that give it a truly authentic taste.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients 

 

Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.

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Instructions 

  • Before You Start: If time allows, let the batter rest for at least one hour (and up to overnight) for a fluffier okonomiyaki. Now, gather all the ingredients.

To Prepare the Base Batter

  • In a large bowl, combine 1 cup all-purpose flour (plain flour), ¼ tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt, ¼ tsp sugar, and ¼ tsp baking powder. Mix all together.

  • Peel and grate 5.6 oz nagaimo/yamaimo (mountain yam) in a small bowl (I use a ceramic grater that I love). Note: The nagaimo may irritate your skin and cause itchiness. Work quickly and rinse your hands immediately after touching the nagaimo. It is very slimy and slippery, so make sure you have a good grip on the nagaimo if you wear kitchen gloves.
  • Add the grated nagaimo and ¾ cup dashi (Japanese soup stock) to the bowl.

  • Mix it all together until combined and set aside while you prepare the ingredients. If time allows, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, put it in the refrigerator, and let the batter rest for at least one hour (and up to overnight). Tip: Resting the batter relaxes the gluten, improves the flavor, and makes the okonomiyaki fluffier. Some okonomiyaki shops refrigerate the batter overnight.

To Prepare the Ingredients

To Prepare the Okonomiyaki Batter

To Cook the Okonomiyaki

  • Prepare a large griddle or two large frying pans with lids to cook two savory pancakes at a time. In the pans, heat a bit of neutral oil on medium heat. When it‘s hot (400ºF or 200ºC), add one portion of the batter to each pan.

  • Using spatulas, spread and shape the batter in a circle about 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter. We like thicker okonomiyaki (the final thickness is ¾ inches or 2 cm). If you’re new to making okonomiyaki, make it smaller and thinner so it’s easier to flip.

  • Place 3 slices of pork belly on top of each okonomiyaki and cook, covered, on medium-low heat for 5 minutes.

  • When the bottom side is nicely browned, flip them over.

  • Gently press the okonomiyaki to fix their shape and keep them together. Cook, covered, for another 5 minutes.

  • Flip them over one last time and fix their shape. Then cook, uncovered, for 2 minutes.

  • Transfer the cooked okonomiyaki to individual plates. Continue cooking the rest of the okonomiyaki.

To Make the Quick Okonomiyaki Sauce (optional)

  • Combine 3 Tbsp sugar, ¼ cup (4 Tbsp) oyster sauce, ½ cup (8 Tbsp) ketchup, and 7 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl. Mix all together until the sugar is completely dissolved.

To Store

  • Wrap each okonomiyaki (without the sauce or toppings) in aluminum foil and put it in a freezer bag. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and in the freezer for a month. When you serve, defrost it first and heat it up in a toaster oven or oven at 350°F (180°C). It‘s a great quick meal!

To Cook Several Okonomiyaki at Once

  • If you have a Japanese griddle with a lid (we call it a hot plate), you can cook several pieces of okonomiyaki at once. Otherwise, I recommend cooking one okonomiyaki at a time in a frying pan.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts

Okonomiyaki

Amount per Serving

% Daily Value*

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Author: Nami

Course: Main Course

Cuisine: Japanese

Keyword: cabbage, pork belly

©JustOneCookbook.com Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any website or social media is strictly prohibited. Please view my photo use policy here.

Editor’s Note: The post was originally published on Mar 2, 2011. It was republished with a new video, more helpful content, and new images on March 1, 2024.



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