Okonomiyaki Recipe: Authentic Japanese Savory Pancakes

Okonomiyaki Recipe: Authentic Japanese Savory Pancakes
Image by Johnny_px from Pixabay


If you're a fan of Japanese cuisine, you've likely come across the mouthwatering delight known as Okonomiyaki. These savoury pancakes are a true treat for your taste buds. Combining a variety of ingredients, Okonomiyaki offers a harmonious blend of flavors and textures that make it a beloved dish in Japan and beyond. In this article, we'll dive into the world of Okonomiyaki, exploring its history, ingredients, cooking techniques, and variations. So grab your chopsticks and get ready to embark on a culinary adventure!

What is Okonomiyaki?

Okonomiyaki is a Japanese dish that translates to "grilled as you like it." It consists of a savory pancake batter cooked on a hot griddle and topped with a variety of ingredients. The base batter typically includes flour, grated yam, dashi (Japanese stock), eggs, and shredded cabbage. However, there are numerous regional variations and creative adaptations that allow for endless possibilities when it comes to Okonomiyaki.

The History of Okonomiyaki 

The origins of Okonomiyaki can be traced back to the Edo period in Japan. It started as a simple street food dish called "funoyaki," which consisted of grilled wheat flour batter topped with soy sauce. Over time, the dish evolved and became popular throughout the country. During World War II, Okonomiyaki gained prominence as a filling and affordable meal during a time of food scarcity. Since then, it has become a beloved comfort food and a staple of Japanese cuisine.

Ingredients and Preparation 

The key ingredients in Okonomiyaki are versatile and can vary depending on personal preference and regional traditions. The basic ingredients include flour, eggs, cabbage, dashi, and green onions. Additional toppings and fillings often include thinly sliced pork belly, shrimp, squid, cheese, kimchi, and various vegetables. The batter is mixed together, and the ingredients are added to create a thick, luscious mixture ready for cooking.

How to Make Okonomiyaki 

Making Okonomiyaki is a delightful and interactive experience. Here's a step-by-step guide to creating your own delicious Okonomiyaki at home:

  1. Prepare the Batter: In a large bowl, combine flour, grated yam, dashi, eggs, and a pinch of salt. Mix until the batter is smooth and well-combined.

  2. Add the Cabbage: Shred the cabbage finely and add it to the batter. Mix thoroughly, ensuring the cabbage is evenly distributed.

  3. Choose Your Toppings: Select your preferred toppings and fillings, such as pork belly, shrimp, squid, cheese, or vegetables. Chop them into bite-sized pieces.

  4. Cooking Process: Heat a griddle or non-stick pan over medium heat. Grease it lightly with oil. Pour a ladleful of the batter onto the griddle and spread it into a circular shape.

  5. Add Toppings: Place your chosen toppings on the batter, gently pressing them into the mixture.

  6. Flip and Cook: After a few minutes, carefully flip the Okonomiyaki using a spatula. Cook the other side until golden brown and cooked through.

  7. Serve and Garnish: Transfer the Okonomiyaki to a plate and garnish with Okonomi sauce, Japanese mayonnaise, bonito flakes, and seaweed flakes. You can also add aonori (green laver) for an extra touch of flavor.

  8. Enjoy!: Slice the Okonomiyaki into smaller pieces and savor its deliciousness. Remember, Okonomiyaki is best enjoyed fresh and hot!

Regional Variations 

As Okonomiyaki gained popularity throughout Japan, different regions developed their own unique versions of the dish. Here are a few notable regional variations:

  1. Hiroshima Style: In Hiroshima, the Okonomiyaki layers are assembled differently, with noodles and additional toppings like bean sprouts and fried eggs added between each layer.

  2. Osaka Style: Osaka is famous for its Okonomiyaki, which typically features a balanced mix of cabbage, batter, and toppings. It is often enjoyed with a generous drizzle of Okonomi sauce and mayonnaise.

  3. Tokyo Style: Tokyo-style Okonomiyaki is thinner and lighter compared to other styles. It tends to focus more on the delicate flavors of the ingredients and is often cooked quickly.

These regional variations add to the charm and diversity of Okonomiyaki, making it a fascinating dish to explore.

Serving and Presentation 

Okonomiyaki is not just a delicious meal; it's also a visually appealing dish. Traditionally, it is served on a large plate and garnished with a range of condiments, creating an enticing presentation. The Okonomiyaki is often sliced into wedges and arranged in an overlapping fashion. Finally, a generous drizzle of Okonomi sauce, Japanese mayonnaise, and sprinklings of bonito flakes and aonori complete the picture. The combination of flavors and textures, along with the visually pleasing presentation, make Okonomiyaki a feast for both the eyes and the palate.

Pairing and Accompaniments 

To enhance your Okonomiyaki experience, consider pairing it with complementary side dishes and beverages. Here are some popular choices:

  1. Side Dishes: Japanese pickles, edamame, miso soup, and yakisoba noodles make excellent accompaniments to Okonomiyaki. These dishes provide a balance of flavors and textures that complement the richness of the pancakes.

  2. Beverages: For a refreshing drink, try pairing Okonomiyaki with cold Japanese beer, such as Asahi or Sapporo. If you prefer non-alcoholic options, green tea or a citrusy yuzu soda can be delightful choices.

Experiment with different combinations to find your preferred pairing and create a well-rounded meal.

Frequently Asked Questions 

1. What is the origin of Okonomiyaki?

The roots of Okonomiyaki can be traced back to the Edo period in Japan, where it started as a simple street food dish known as "funoyaki." Over time, it evolved into the beloved dish we know today.

2. Can I make Okonomiyaki vegetarian or vegan?

Yes, you can easily adapt Okonomiyaki to suit a vegetarian or vegan diet. Simply omit meat or seafood and focus on vegetable fillings. There are also vegan versions of Okonomi sauce and mayonnaise available in stores or online.

3. How do I eat Okonomiyaki?

Okonomiyaki is typically eaten with chopsticks. You can cut it into bite-sized pieces and enjoy each mouthful with a combination of toppings and sauce. It's a fun and interactive dish to share with friends and family.

4. Are there any variations for those with dietary restrictions?

Yes, Okonomiyaki is a versatile dish that can accommodate various dietary restrictions. You can use gluten-free flour or alternative flours for those with gluten sensitivities. Additionally, you can choose toppings and fillings that suit your dietary needs.

5. Can I freeze leftover Okonomiyaki?

While Okonomiyaki is best enjoyed fresh, you can freeze leftovers for future enjoyment. Wrap the cooled pancakes tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and store them in an airtight container in the freezer. To reheat, thaw them in the refrigerator and then warm them in a pan or microwave.


Okonomiyaki is a delightful culinary creation that embodies the spirit of Japanese comfort food. Its versatility, rich flavors, and interactive cooking process make it a beloved dish both in Japan and around the world. Whether you choose the traditional Osaka style or explore regional variations, Okonomiyaki offers a satisfying and enjoyable dining experience. So gather your ingredients, get your griddle hot, and immerse yourself in the wonderful world of Okonomiyaki!

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