zenDine Logo

Okonomiyaki Recipe Revealed: Discover What is Okonomiyaki, the Savory Pancake of Japan

Table of Contents


Ever wondered about that enticing Japanese dish swirling with an array of vibrant ingredients? Welcome to the world of Okonomiyaki, a versatile and delightful taste adventure often referred to as a 'Japanese pizza.' This blog unfolds the mystery behind this dish's origins, key ingredients, preparation techniques, and how best to enjoy it.

Let's delve into the tantalizing journey of discovering Okonomiyaki!

Key Takeaways

  • Okonomiyaki is a popular Japanese dish that originated in the Kansai region and Hiroshima city.

  • There are two main styles of okonomiyaki: Kansai-style (Osaka-style) and Hiroshima-style, each with their own unique preparation methods and ingredients.

  • The key ingredients of okonomiyaki include Nagaimo (Yamaimo), Tenkasu (Tempura Bits/Scraps), Okonomiyaki Sauce, Japanese Mayonnaise, Katsuobushi (Dried Bonito Flakes), and Aonori (Dried Green Seaweed).

  • Optional add - ins like yakisoba noodles, octopus, shrimp, mochi/rice cakes, cheese, corn, bean sprouts, mushrooms, garlic slices, and kimchi can be included to customize the dish.

Understanding Okonomiyaki

japanese okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki is cooked on a flat griddle and made with a wheat flour batter and various ingredients.

The Origin of Okonomiyaki

Diving into the history of Okonomiyaki, this distinctive dish traces its roots to the Kansai region and Hiroshima city in Japan. The first appearance of something resembling okonomiyaki can be found during the Momoyama period (1568-1598), where a crepe-like dessert called 'Funoyaki' was served at tea ceremonies.

It underwent various evolutions throughout time before transforming into the product we know today.

The name 'Okonomiyaki,' which essentially means 'grilled as you like it,' emerged during the early 20th century. A significant boom in popularity took place post World War II when food shortages led people to make a low-cost, filling meal out of simple ingredients like flour and cabbage.

This event birthed Okonomiyaki as an affordable street food option that provided sustenance during trying times. Now thriving nationwide with regional variations, notably Hiroshima-style and Osaka-style, one can find over 2000 Okonomiyaki restaurants in Hiroshima alone – bearing testament to its enduring appeal.

The Two Main Styles: Osaka-style and Hiroshima-style

two okonomiyaki styles

Two primary variants emerge as palate dominators - Hiroshima-style and Osaka-style. The Kansai-style okonomiyaki, also known as Osaka-style okonomiyaki is prevalent throughout Japan and recognized for its unique batter containing flour, grated nagaimo (Japanese long yam), eggs, shredded cabbage among other features.

It's often compared to an omelet or pancake with bold flavors layered into it.

Contrastingly, the Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki takes a distinctive approach by layering ingredients over a thin pancake-like base rather than mixing them into the batter. A typical version includes succulent pork slices, yakisoba noodles – fried first on the hot teppan before integrating them into this soul food delight – creating texture variation that only adds to a richer dining experience.

Each style represents regional culinary tradition while offering various toppings like dried bonito flakes which become iconic finishing touches in this 'Osaka soul food'.

Key Ingredients of Okonomiyaki

Key ingredients of Okonomiyaki include Nagaimo (Yamaimo), Tenkasu (Tempura Bits/Scraps), Okonomiyaki Sauce, Japanese Mayonnaise, Katsuobushi (Dried Bonito Flakes), and Aonori (Dried Green Seaweed).

Optional add-ins can also be included to customize the dish according to personal preferences.

Nagaimo (Yamaimo)

'Nagaimo, also known as Yamaimo, plays a crucial role in the making of Okonomiyaki. This unique Japanese long yam is grated and blended into a mix with dashi along with other dry ingredients to form an integral part of the batter.

Not only does Nagaimo provide a subtle sweet and earthy flavor that enhances the overall taste profile of Okonomiyaki, but its distinct texture creates a marvelously moist and fluffy pancake.

It's also responsible for binding all elements in the batter together perfectly, aiding in maintaining the shape of this savory delight. And it's not just about taste - Nagaimo is low in calories yet abundant in dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals making it both deliciously appealing and nutritionally rewarding.'.

Tenkasu (Tempura Bits/Scraps)

Tenkasu, also known as tempura bits or scraps, are an essential ingredient in making okonomiyaki. These small pieces of crunchy goodness add a delightful texture and flavor to the Japanese dish.

Made from deep-fried batter, tenkasu adds a hint of umami and a satisfying crunch to every bite of okonomiyaki. It's like finding hidden treasures amidst the fluffy pancake base. So whether you're making traditional Kansai-style or Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki, don't forget to sprinkle some tenkasu on top for that extra mouthwatering touch.

Okonomiyaki Sauce

Okonomiyaki sauce is a tangy, sweet, and savory condiment that is an essential part of the Japanese okonomiyaki. Similar to barbecue or Worcestershire sauce, it enhances the overall flavor of okonomiyaki.

This delicious sauce is typically drizzled on top of the cooked pancake and pairs perfectly with other ingredients like bonito flakes and pickled ginger. Made from a combination of Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, soy sauce, and sugar, okonomiyaki sauce can be found in supermarkets or made from scratch at home.

Whether you're enjoying Hiroshima-style or Kansai-style okonomiyaki, this flavorful sauce adds a delightful finishing touch to your dish.

Japanese Mayonnaise

Japanese mayonnaise is a key ingredient in Okonomiyaki, the beloved Japanese savory pancake dish. Unlike traditional mayonnaise, Japanese mayo has a richer and creamier texture, thanks to the inclusion of egg yolks instead of whole eggs.

It also boasts a tangy flavor that perfectly complements the other elements of Okonomiyaki. Known for its distinctive squeeze bottle packaging with a red cap adorned by Kewpie's iconic baby logo, Japanese mayo adds a creamy richness to the dish when drizzled atop the cooked pancake.

The combination of flavors from the cabbage, pork belly slices, sauce, and bonito flakes creates an umami explosion that keeps people coming back for more. Whether you're enjoying it at home or dining out at one of Osaka's renowned Okonomiyaki restaurants, don't forget to add some Japanese mayo for that authentic and delicious touch!

Katsuobushi (Dried Bonito Flakes)

One key ingredient that gives okonomiyaki its distinctive umami flavor is katsuobushi, also known as dried bonito flakes. These thin, wispy flakes are made by fermenting, smoking, and drying skipjack tuna.

When sprinkled on top of the hot okonomiyaki, the heat causes the bonito flakes to 'dance' and curl up, adding a visually interesting element to the dish. Not only do these flakes provide a smoky and savory taste to each bite of okonomiyaki, but they also add a unique texture that complements the other ingredients perfectly.

So next time you enjoy this Japanese pancake delight, be sure to savor those flavorful katsuobushi flakes!

Aonori (Dried Green Seaweed)

Aonori is an essential ingredient in Okonomiyaki. It adds a unique flavor and vibrant green color to the dish. Aonori is harvested from the coast of Japan and then sun-dried before being finely ground into flakes.

These flakes are sprinkled on top of the cooked Okonomiyaki just before serving, adding a touch of umami taste and enhancing the visual appeal. Aonori also brings nutritional benefits as it is rich in minerals and vitamins.

So when preparing this savory Japanese pancake, don't forget to include this flavorful topping for that authentic taste experience!

Optional Add-Ins

For extra flavor and variety, you can include a range of optional add-ins in your okonomiyaki. Here are some popular options:

  • Yakisoba Noodles: Add cooked yakisoba noodles to the batter for a more substantial and filling pancake.

  • Octopus: Include diced octopus pieces for a traditional touch, known as 'Tako' in Japanese.

  • Shrimp: Add cooked shrimp for a seafood twist.

  • Scallops: Enhance the dish with juicy scallops, either diced or whole.

  • Mochi/Rice Cakes: Include small pieces of mochi or sliced rice cakes to add a chewy texture to your okonomiyaki.

  • Cheese: For those who love cheese, sprinkle grated cheese on top of the pancake while cooking to get it melty and gooey.

  • Corn: Sweet corn kernels bring a burst of sweetness and color to the pancake.

  • Bean Sprouts: Add bean sprouts for extra crunch and freshness.

  • Mushrooms: Sliced mushrooms like shiitake or enoki can add earthy flavors to complement the other ingredients.

  • Garlic Slices: If you're a garlic lover, thinly slice garlic cloves and mix them into the batter for an aromatic kick.

  • Kimchi: Spicy kimchi adds heat and tanginess, giving your okonomiyaki a Korean-inspired twist.

  • Squid: This seafood delicacy carries a slightly sweet, briny taste and a firm yet tender texture that contributes to the depth of flavor

Preparing Okonomiyaki Step-by-Step

preparing okonomiyaki

Learn how to create the perfect batter and master frying and flipping techniques to make delicious okonomiyaki at home. Get ready for a mouthwatering culinary adventure!

Creating the Batter

To create the perfect batter for your okonomiyaki, start by mixing together flour, grated nagaimo (a type of Japanese yam), dashi or water, and beaten eggs. This combination forms a thick yet smooth base that holds all the other ingredients together.

It's important to use grated nagaimo as it adds a unique texture and helps bind everything together. Additionally, adding some baking powder will give your batter a nice fluffiness once cooked.

Once you have achieved a well-mixed batter, you're ready to proceed with frying up your delicious okonomiyaki on the griddle or teppan.

Frying and Flipping Techniques

To achieve the perfect golden-brown crust and fluffy interior of an okonomiyaki, mastering the frying and flipping techniques is key. Once you've mixed your batter and added in all of your desired ingredients, it's time to get cooking.

Heat a nonstick skillet or teppan with vegetable oil over medium heat until it's hot but not smoking. Pour a ladleful of the batter mixture onto the skillet, then use a spatula to shape it into a round pancake about 1 inch thick.

Let the okonomiyaki cook for several minutes on one side until it's nicely browned, then carefully flip it using two spatulas or chopsticks. Cook the other side until golden as well. The secret to achieving that crispy exterior lies in gently pressing down on the pancake while cooking to ensure even browning without burning.

Enjoying Okonomiyaki

enjoying okonomiyaki

Indulge in the savory delight of okonomiyaki and discover the art of eating this Japanese pancake dish. From savoring the crispy edges to embracing the melty toppings, every bite is a harmonious blend of flavors and textures.

Read on to learn how to enjoy okonomiyaki like a true connoisseur.

How to Eat Okonomiyaki

To fully enjoy the scrumptiousness of okonomiyaki, it's best to savor it fresh off the grill. Start by cutting a piece with your chopsticks or a spatula. Take in the enticing aroma and observe as the cabbage inside steams up beautifully.

Bring that first bite to your mouth and experience an explosion of flavors—savory from the tender pork belly, slightly tangy from the okonomiyaki sauce, creamy from Japanese mayonnaise, and richly umami from katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes).

The combination of textures is delightful too—the crispy edges giving way to soft fillings. Feel free to add some extra toppings like aonori (dried green seaweed) for an added kick. And there you have it—a perfect balance of taste, texture, and satisfaction in each mouthful!

Pairing Suggestions

Pairing Suggestions:

  • A classic pairing for okonomiyaki is a cold glass of Japanese beer, such as Asahi or Sapporo. The crisp and refreshing taste of the beer complements the flavors of the okonomiyaki.

  • For a non - alcoholic option, try pairing okonomiyaki with a glass of chilled green tea or barley tea. These traditional Japanese beverages can help cleanse your palate between bites.

  • If you're looking for something more adventurous, consider pairing okonomiyaki with a bottle of umeshu (plum wine). The sweet and fruity flavors of the umeshu can provide a nice contrast to the savory pancake.

  • Another option is to pair okonomiyaki with a glass of sparkling sake. The effervescence of the sake can enhance the overall dining experience and add some fun to your meal.

  • If you prefer wine, opt for a light and crisp white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling. The acidity in these wines can cut through the richness of the okonomiyaki and balance out the flavors.

  • For those who enjoy cocktails, try mixing up a highball with Japanese whiskey like Suntory Toki or Nikka Coffey Grain. The smoky and woody notes from the whiskey can complement the savory elements in okonomiyaki.

  • Lastly, if you want to keep things simple, just grab a bottle of cold oolong tea or carbonated water. These refreshing beverages can help cleanse your palate and let the flavors of okonomiyaki shine.

Conclusion: A Memorable Encounter with Japanese Street Food

In conclusion, okonomiyaki is a unique and flavorful Japanese dish that combines the best elements of pancakes, omelettes, and pizza. With its versatile ingredients and customizable toppings, it's a meal that can be tailored to anyone's taste preferences.

Whether you're in Osaka or Hiroshima, be sure to try this savory pancake on your next trip to Japan – it's an experience you won't want to miss out on!


Okonomiyaki is a popular Japanese dish that is made with a batter and various toppings.

Okonomiyaki is made by mixing together a batter made of flour, water, and eggs, and then adding various ingredients such as cabbage, green onion, sliced pork, and seafood.

There are two main types of okonomiyaki: Hiroshima-style and Osaka-style. Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki has layers of ingredients, while Osaka-style okonomiyaki mixes all the ingredients together in the batter.

The key ingredients for okonomiyaki are batter (made from flour, eggs, and water or dashi), shredded cabbage, and usually includes a variety of proteins like pork belly, octopus, or shrimp. 

Common toppings for okonomiyaki include okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise, dried seaweed, bonito flakes, and green onion.

Yes, okonomiyaki is a popular street food in Japan. It is often sold by street vendors and can be found at festivals and food stalls.

Yes, it is possible to make okonomiyaki at home. You will need a frying pan or an iron griddle to cook the pancake.

Okonomiyaki has a savory and slightly sweet taste. The flavor can vary depending on the type of toppings and sauce used.

Okonomiyaki sauce is a thick and tangy sauce that is similar to Worcestershire sauce. It is a key ingredient in making okonomiyaki.

Yes, okonomiyaki is often referred to as a pancake, but it is different from traditional sweet pancakes. It has a savory filling and is cooked on a griddle.

Yes, okonomiyaki can be made without meat or seafood. It can be customized to suit different dietary preferences by using vegetables or tofu as substitutes.