Okononomiyaki is a popular Japanese savoury pancake that is easy to make at home. The name of the dish tells you something about it – okonomi: what you like or want; and yaki: grilled or cooked. Cook the pancakes with small pieces of pork, squid or prawn, and top with sweet and tangy barbecue sauce, Japanese mayonnaise, and seaweed and dried fish sprinkles.
Different regions of Japan have their own classic style of preparing okonomiyaki. I’m calling this one “Okonomiyaki, Canberra style”.
Finding ingredients outside of Japan
In Japan you can buy convenient packet mixes for the okonomiyaki batter in the supermarket. Those packets and authentic Japanese recipes often use tempura batter pieces (tenkasu). I have given up trying to find tenkasu in suburban Canberra, but brown rice puffs are a great alternative for adding a similar lightness and texture.
Okonomi sauce or tonkatsu sauce can be found in Asian supermarkets, and Japanese mayonnaise is in all the big supermarkets. Make your own tonkatsu sauce with this recipe here.
We sprinkle shredded regular nori on top of the pancakes, because the almost powder form of nori is hard to find. I have found packets of bonito flakes to sprinkle on the top, and it is worth tracking them down if you can. Watching the tiny flakes of dried fish “dance” on the steaming hot pancake is an essential part of the experience!
The genuine recipe also calls for the glutinous qualities of grated nagaimo, a starchy root vegetable. No chance of finding that here, but leaving out doesn’t seem to matter.
I sometimes add dashi stock granules, or replace some of the water with diluted dashi stock, but this is optional.
Our kids made a fun little home video of making okonomiyaki in Japan, using a packet mix and then topping it with sliced pork.
Just so you aren’t taken by surprise, the soundtrack song mentions Jesus and the bible. Big thanks to Colin Buchanan for his kind permission to use the song “Super Chef”. See more of Colin’s music here.
Note: I realise Mr Sumo at the end of the video needs a few more Japanese lessons, his word order is a little wrong – just goes to show you can’t 100% rely on Google translate!
If you want to learn more about okonomiyaki, try the Okonomiyaki World site here.
And if you want to see Kumamon, the cutest mascot ever, spreading many seeds of happiness to the world, check out this video here.