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Okonomiyaki is a savory Japanese cabbage pancake made with cabbage, batter, and a wide range of additions. The toppings include okonomiyaki sauce, mayo, seaweed, pickled ginger, and katsuobushi (dried shaved fish flakes), but you’re more than welcome to get creative.
Okonomiyaki translates to grilled (yaki) as you like it (okonomi) because you can add any ingredients you like to make it your own. Street vendors will make it however the customer wants. Typical additions include pork belly, green onions, octopus, shrimp, squid, vegetables, konjac, cheese, or mochi.
Traditional Osaka-style okonomiyaki is made with eggs, flour, dashi stock, shredded cabbage, green onions, and usually pork belly. In this okonomiyaki recipe, I’ll be keeping it vegetarian by using mushrooms for that meaty texture and nori flakes for the fishiness.
Why You’ll Love This Okonomiyaki Recipe
The cabbage is cooked to perfection, rendering a decadently soft and sweet/savory pancake that’s filling, delicious, and packed with veggies. This recipe does okonomiyaki justice – it’s overflowing with umami and oh-so-satisfying.
The ingredients are easy to find at your local supermarket and super affordable. Okonomiyaki are surprisingly filling and tasty. For this recipe, there’s no need to go to great lengths to find items like dashi stock, nagaimo yam, konjac, or even katsuobushi.
I’ve included plenty of variations and substitution ideas so that you can make the best okonomiyaki recipe tailored to your tastes. There are even ways to make it vegan, or as meaty as you wish.
This okonomiyaki recipe included a homemade okonomiyaki sauce that tastes better than store-bought. You can make this sauce with a few simple ingredients in your pantry and keep it in the fridge for weeks to drizzle or dip anything.
What Do I Need For This Okonomiyaki Recipe?
For this okonomiyaki recipe with mushrooms, you’ll need:
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup flour
- ½ cup water
- 10.5 oz. cabbage, thinly shredded
- 1 oz. green onions, chopped
- 1-2 shiitake mushrooms, diced
- 1 oz. tempura bits (optional)
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 2 nori sheets, cut into strips
- 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil (for frying)
For the homemade okonomiyaki sauce:
- 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce (use a vegan Worcestershire sauce brand if needed)
- 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp. ketchup
- 1 Tbsp. oyster sauce (vegan oyster sauce or soy sauce for vegetarians)
- ¼ tsp. ground white pepper
- Aonori (or regular toasted nori sheets cut into thin strips)
- Japanese mayonnaise (or vegan mayo)
- Katsuobushi (omit if vegan/vegetarian)
- Beni shoga (check this recipe for quick pickled red ginger)
How To Make Japanese Cabbage Pancake Okonomiyaki
Step 1: Make the okonomiyaki sauce
Before making the Japanese cabbage pancake, you want to have your sauce and toppings ready to go.
To make okonomiyaki sauce, first combine all the ketchup, oyster sauce, maple syrup, Worcestershire sauce, and white pepper in a small bowl. Taste and adjust to your liking if needed. Start by prepping the shredded cabbage, diced mushrooms, chopped scallions, and cut nori sheets.
Step 3: Whisk the eggs with water and salt
Then whisk the eggs together with water and salt (or dashi broth if you have it).
Step 4: Gently mix the flour into the egg mixture
Add the flour to the egg mixture and slowly whisk to incorporate until there are no more large lumps of flour. Be careful not to overwork the batter as this can cause the gluten to activate, resulting in a chewy pancake.
Step 5: Fold in the vegetables and nori to complete the okonomiyaki batter
Now add the vegetables and nori to the batter and use a spatula to incorporate them. Your okonomiyaki batter is ready to go.
Step 6: Grill it as you like it
It’s time for the fun part – cooking the pancakes! For this, you can use a grill (teppanyaki) or a small pan. I like to use a small pan that is roughly 6 inches to easily shape the okonomiyaki.
Step 7: Fry and shape the pancake in a preheated pan with oil
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in your pan, skillet, or grill on medium-low heat. Once hot, pour half of the batter into the pan and press it down with a spatula to flatten it out. Also, use a spatula or two to shape the Japanese cabbage pancake into a perfect circle.
Step 8: Slow-cook to achieve a golden brown finish without burning the cabbage
Cook for 8-10 minutes on one side or until it’s golden brown. You want to keep the heat on low so that the cabbage doesn’t burn on the surface and simultaneously undercook in the middle.
Step 9: Carefully flip the pancake and continue cooking until fully done
Once browned, flip it over using two spatulas or a strong wrist movement (if within your skills), and cook it for another 6 to 8 minutes. Repeat with the second half of the batter.
Step 10: Enjoy your Homemade Okonomiyaki Japanese Cabbage Pancake!
Serve the okonomiyaki hot or warm, drizzled with okonomi sauce, kewpie mayo, optional katsuobushi, aonori or nori strips, and beni shoga. Enjoy!
- Be careful not to overwork the batter as this can cause the gluten to activate, resulting in a chewy pancake. Okonomiyaki is supposed to be soft and fluffy.
- Have all your toppings and sauces ready to go. Okonomiyaki is best served warm. But wait a hot sec or you could burn your tongue!
- Get creative with the ingredients and toppings. Okonomiyaki means “grilled as you like it” so you’re more than welcome to add anything you wish. Some common additions are kimchi, cheese, chicken, pork belly, seafood pieces, or vegetables like carrots, squash, and celery.
Substitutions & Variations
Make this okonomiyaki vegan by replacing eggs with a vegan liquid-based egg alternative. We’ve got a list of the best vegan egg brands for you to check out.
It’s also possible to substitute eggs with mashed nagaimo yam. Yamaimo or nagaimo yam is a root vegetable native to China that is often used in okonomiyaki. For each egg, use ¼ to ½ cup of nagaimo yam puree grated on the fine side of a box grater.
You can replace the green onions and mushrooms with any other veggie or protein. I like adding shredded carrots, crumbled firm tofu, cheese, or vegan sausage to keep it vegetarian.
To make this okonomiyaki recipe gluten-free, substitute the flour for a gluten-free flour mix. Or use almond flour and a pinch of coconut flour instead.
For a decadent okonomiyaki experience, add bacon or pork belly. Bacon adds salt so pork belly is preferable, but make sure you use a thin cut (for hot pot), or else your Japanese cabbage pancake will be too greasy.
Some other tasty combos include shrimp and mochi, yakisoba and octopus, or kimchi and cheese. I think melted cheese elevates almost any dish. Or serve your okonomiyaki with juicy homemade BBQ pork belly burnt ends for an exquisite twist.
Okonomiyaki Recipe Toppings
As for toppings, it’s great if you can get your hands on all the traditional ones. There’s nothing like the combination of sweet and savory okonomiyaki sauce, creamy rich mayo, briny tangy beni shoga, the fresh sea taste of aonori, and the dancing fish flakes (katsuobushi).
Can You Bake Okonomiyaki?
Yes, you can! To bake this okonomiyaki recipe, simply grease a small baking tray and preheat the oven to 350°F. Pour the okonomiyaki batter into the prepared tray and press it down to remove any air bubbles. Bake it for around 30 minutes or until soft and fragrant.
Where Is Okonomiyaki From?
The exact place of origin is a bit fuzzy and the dish has a sad story behind it. But, on the other hand, it’s now a significant part of Japanese street food cuisine.
Okonomiyaki originated in both Hiroshima and the Kansai region in Japan right after WW2. Rice was scarce after the war and people had to find a way to fill their stomachs using cheap easily available ingredients.
There are two typical varieties of okonomiyaki nowadays – Hiroshima-style and Kansai or Osaka-style okonomiyaki. The Osaka kind is most popular both in Japan and worldwide and is similar to the recipe I’m sharing here.
Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki, also called hiroshimayaki, is made with a simple wheat flour batter that is turned into a thin crepe. Then cabbage and other ingredients such as yakisoba are layered on top. They’re more complicated to make but so fun to watch (there are plenty of videos on YouTube).
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup flour
- ½ cup water
- 10.5 oz. cabbage thinly shredded
- 1 oz. green onions chopped
- 1-2 shiitake mushrooms diced
- 1 oz. tempura bits optional
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 2 nori sheets cut into strips
- 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil for frying
- Japanese mayonnaise
- beni shoga
- Combine the ketchup, oyster sauce, maple syrup, Worcestershire sauce, and white pepper in a small bowl. Taste and adjust to your liking if needed.
- In a large bowl, whisk eggs, water, and salt. Add flour and mix to incorporate.
- Now add the vegetables and nori to the batter and use a spatula to mix in.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in your pan on medium-low heat. Pour half of the batter into the pan. Press it down to flatten it out. Shape it into a perfect circle.
- Cook for 8-10 minutes on one side or until golden brown. Flip using two spatulas and cook for another 6-8 minutes. Repeat with the second half of the batter.
- Serve the okonomiyaki hot or warm with okonomiyaki sauce (see above) and toppings of choice. Enjoy!