Translated by Lester Somera
Japanese Encyclopedia: Okonomiyaki
Written by Hiromasa Uematsu
This is a short introduction to okonomiyaki, primarily eaten in western Japan. It is a mixture of wheat flour and other ingredients cooked on a griddle.
Okonomiyaki お好み焼き is a dish that consists of wheat flour and other ingredients mixed together and cooked on an iron griddle. In the past, it was primarily eaten in western Japan, but these days, okonomiyaki can be found on dinner tables all over Japan. It is eaten using a hera (trowel), a large, flat spoon-like utensil. While sometimes people place it on plates to eat, it can also be eaten straight off the griddle. It is also a Japanese dish that is very easy to make yourself at home.
Okonomiyaki Recipes and Flavors Vary By Region
In truth, okonomiyaki recipes and ingredients are not so uniform, so don't be afraid to try different combinations -- there are many styles and ways to enjoy this dish.
As a basic guide, okonomiyaki usually includes a combination of finely minced cabbage, eggs, yam and other ingredients, mixed with wheat flour dissolved in dashi soup stock. This mixture is topped with pork and other ingredients, and grilled on both sides on a griddle. Once cooked through, it can be topped with special sauce, shaved bonito flakes, aonori seaweed strips, and even mayonnaise.
Ingredients and cooking methods can vary drastically by region. The okonomiyaki recipes of Osaka and Hiroshima, for example, are particularly well-known. These styles are so distinct that residents of Osaka and Hiroshima alike think that theirs is the ‘real’ okonomiyaki in what could be described as a sort of rivalry. At least, that’s how the story goes in much of Japan.
Let's Make Okonomiyaki at Home
Because it's very easy to make okonomiyaki, we highly recommend trying it at home! You can purchase a box mix at the store, or make your own dough from scratch to add vegetable and meat ingredients to as you prefer. This meal is a great for house parties and other social gatherings, as it can be served up quickly and friends can even join in to help make it together.
Let us introduce you to the few tool and ingredients you need to try your hand at making this dish savory Japanese dish at home.
Tools You Need - Spatulas
You need a large spatula to flip over the okonomiyaki. You can use a regular spatula too, but for those who want an authentic feel, we recommend buying an okonomiyaki spatula in Japan. You can buy okonomiyaki spatulas at Asakusa's Kappabashi or at 100 yen stores such as Daiso. They aren't expensive at all and make great souvenirs.
Let's Get Okonomiyaki Flour at the Supermarket
In Japan (and now many supermarkets abroad) you can find okonomiyaki flour at supermarkets. The okonomiyaki dough is made by mixing this flour with water and eggs. With this, all you have to do is mix it and cook it to make okonomiyaki. If you can't find okonomiyaki flour in your local supermarket, most any bread flour or corn flour will do. We do not recommend using pancake flour/mix, however, unless you want an oddly sweet okonomiyaki.
Let's Make Okonomiyaki!
If you're cooking at home, you will probably want to either use a large frying pan or, if you have one, a hot plate or griddle with a flat surface. First, you will need to make okonomiyaki dough, which is a mixture of flour, water, and eggs. For a single serving of okonomiyaki, you should use:
1 cup of water
1.25 cups of flour (okonomiyaki, white, or corn flour)
Combine the above in a bowl and mix thoroughly until there aren't any remaining lumps. You can use an electric mixer if you like. If you find the dough a little watery, add more flour, a tablespoon at a time, until it has the consistency that you desire.
Cooking Your Own Okonomiyaki
After making your dough, put the vegetable and meat ingredients that you have chosen into the mix, and pour it onto the grill/in the frying pan. Typical ingredients included minced cabbage, green onions, and slices of pork. You can also add cheese, shrimp, or other seafood. If you are adding slices of meat, you might want to start cooking these in another pan, in order to make sure that they are thoroughly cooked before adding them to your okonomiyaki.
Pour your okonomiyaki onto the frying pan or onto the hot plat to cook.
Peek under at the okonomiyaki every minute or so to check if it has started to brown or not. Once it has, carefully flip it over and repeat the process, much like a pancake. If the heat is too strong only the surface will be cooked while the insides might remain raw; to avoid this, cook it on low to medium heat instead of high heat.
After it has finished cooking, top your okonomiyaki with sauce, mayo, dried bonito flakes, dried nori seaweed flakes, or whatever sauces you prefer, and just like that!
It's ready to eat.
Okonomiyaki At Restaurants
Enjoying okonomiyaki at a restaurant can be a great experience. Guests are often provided all the ingredients, neatly prepared, to make the okonomiyaki themselves in a type of cooking known as teppanyaki, or frying on an iron plate.
Depending on the restaurant, however, chefs may instead cook okonomiyaki in front of customers as entertainment.
With a deep and sweet flavor, okonomiyaki has many points that appeal to foreign palates and is thus a highly popular Japanese dish for visitors. The trick then is not in enjoying its savoriness, but in cooking and eating the okonomiyaki on a griddle with a spatula.
By quickly looking over the articles below, however, we're sure you can confidently enjoy your meal.
Okinomiyaki Restaurants Recommendations
If you're out on the town, whether in Tokyo, Osaka, or Kyoto, why not stop by these places for a taste of this fine Japanese dish?
Sakura-tei is a okonomiyaki restaurant in Harajuku. It has an elegant art interoir, as well as English and Simplified Chinese menus! To learn more about what kind of experience awaits you there, please check out the article Make Your First Okonomiyaki At Arty Harajuku Spot Sakura-tei.
Address: Tokyo, Shibuya, Jingumae 3-20-1
Closed: Open year around
Mikiya is a restaurant where you can enjoy real Hiroshima okonomiyaki. They use only Hiroshima-produced vegetables, so you know its legit. You can enjoy a counter seat, watching the chef's movements, or a table seat for a quieter atmosphere. For more on Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki, read Satisfaction Guaranteed! Enjoy Hiroshima-Style Okonomiyaki
Address: Tokyo, Shibuya, Ebisu Nishi 1-8-10, EBISU Takahashi building B1F
Hours: 17:00-02:00 the next morning
Closed: Not set
Yamamoto Manbo (Okonomiyaki)
Yamamoto Manbo is a restaurant with over 60 years of history, and the repeat customers to prove it. It has a reasonable prices, and the okonimyaki is excellent. We highly recommended the shop specialty: the Manboyaki special.
Address: Kyoto, Kyoto, Shimogyo, Shimonomachi 56
Looking for a fluffly okonomiyaki where the night life is hot? Ajinoya is a popular okonomiyaki restaurant in Osaka's Dotonbori. The okonomiyaki here are large, but that never stopped anyone from finishing one in record times.
Address: Osaka, Osaka, Chuo, Namba 1-7-16
Hours: Monday 18:00-22:45, Tuesday-Friday 12:00-22:45, Saturday/Sunday/Holidays 11:30-22:45
Closed: Every 2nd Monday
Website (Japanese): http://ajinoya-okonomiyaki.com/top/
A fried savory sweetness, okonomiyaki's flavors greatly appeal to people from all over the world. Its so easy to make, and even easier to enjoy, so why not give this Japanese cuisine classic a try?