Recipe: Osaka-style okonomiyaki | The Japan Times


I grew up in the Tokyo area surrounded by all kinds of international cuisine. While this has been great for expanding my culinary horizons, it has left me at a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to making certain regional Japanese dishes.

Not least of these is okonomiyaki, Osaka’s famous savory pancake.

When I did have okonomiyaki as a child, it was most often at a restaurant instead of at home as they do in Osaka. I grew up and tried my hand at making this seemingly simple dish, but for so long the results made me cringe.

Eventually, I learned what makes okonomiyaki so special. One night, an acquaintance born in Osaka schooled me on everything I was doing wrong, including adding too much flour and pressing down hard on the pancake while it cooked.

After many years of trial and error, my recipe is the result of a Tokyoite finding okonomiyaki peace. The result is a light pancake with the flavor of savory pork and sweet cabbage. In Osaka, they eat this with rice and lots of sauce, but I like to enjoy it on its own.

Hopefully native Osakans will not find it too off the mark.

Try adding your own favorite ingredients to this customizable dish. | MAKIKO ITOH

Serves 2-4 (2 pancakes)

Prep time: 15 mins.

Cook time: 20 mins.

• 300 grams cabbage, diced into 5-millimeter pieces

• 4 tablespoons green onions, finely minced

• 4 tablespoons tenkasu (tempura batter crumbs) or sakura ebi (tiny dried shrimp)

• 120 grams hakurikiko (cake flour)

• 170 milliliters water

• 2 tablespoons liquid dashi

• 2 medium eggs

• 200 grams pork belly

• Optional: okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise, ketchup, Japanese mustard, katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes), aonori (green seaweed flakes) and beni shōga (red pickled ginger strips)

1. Slice the pork belly into 3-centimeter long pieces.

2. Combine the flour, water and liquid dashi in a bowl and mix until you have a thin batter.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together the cabbage, green onion and tenkasu or sakura ebi. Add the batter and mix well.

4. Transfer half of this mixture to another bowl to use later for a second pancake. In the original bowl, add one egg and whisk until just barely combined.

5. Heat up a hot plate or a large frying pan over high heat. Place half of the pork belly pieces in the pan in a circle roughly as large as you plan to make your okonomiyaki. Panfry the pork for about 5 minutes or until the edges start to turn crispy.

6. Ladle the batter mixture onto the pork belly and spread it so it covers the pork. Lower the heat to medium-high and panfry for another 5 minutes. Shake the pan occasionally to keep the bottom of the pancake from sticking.

7. With two spatulas, flip over the okonomiyaki. Alternatively, you can also slide it off the pan and onto a plate and flip it with the uncooked side down back into the pan. Cook over medium-high heat for another 10 minutes until lightly browned. Do not press down on the pancake as it cooks.

8. Spread okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise, ketchup and Japanese mustard over the pancake, then top with katsuobushi, aonori and beni shōga to taste. Slide the pancake onto a plate.

9. For the second pancake, repeat steps 5 to 8 with the remaining half of the batter mixture and pork. Serve while piping hot.

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