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  • Writer's pictureLarissa Reinhart

Okonomiyaki - Japanese savory pancake recipe

We're planning on okonomiyaki for Mother's Day (my request). This is one of my many, many favorite foods in Japan (how many favorites can I have? Never make me choose one). It's easy to cook, fun, and delicious. It's a party food. A festival food. A food court food (while living in Japan back in the 90s, a discount department store's food court was our introduction). There are several regional versions of okonomiyaki of course, each region claims theirs is the best), but basically it's a kind of pancake batter mixed with cabbage and topped or mixed with anything you could want.

This post is a reprise of one I did on my original blog, The Expat Returneth. I started it the third time we returned from Japan, back in 2012. I hope you enjoy it!

my daughters eating okonomiyaki and yakisoba
My girls enjoying okonomiyaki and yakisoba they cooked themselves at a restaurant in Japan

"This week is a fun festival food that's popular in Japan in the summer: Okonomiyaki. The pancake that isn't a pancake.

The quickest way to wax nostalgic is through the stomach. At least for us. Which is why we started cooking Japanese food. We continue to cook it because most of the home-cooking dishes are simple, affordable and delicious. And fun.

Grilling or cooking your own food at a restaurant is popular in Japan. Our kids especially loved these restaurants. One of their favorite things to cook was okonomiyaki, which translates as "cook how you like." It looks like a giant pancake, but the flavors are savory, not sweet. And like all good Japanese food, it tastes great with beer.

Enjoying cooking okonomiyaki with friends in Japan
Enjoying cooking okonomiyaki with friends in Japan

As you can decipher from the translation, you can cook okonomiyaki with a variety of ingredients and differences in cooking technique. There is regional pride in different styles of okonomiyaki. Our friend from Hiroshima swears by Hiroshimayaki-style and voluntarily cooked it at our house for our edification. Tokyo and Osaka have their own variations in cooking.

All okonomiyaki begins with a pancake-like batter with cabbage in it. You can go in many directions from there.

Tokyo-style okonomiyaki
Tokyo-style okonomiyaki

I borrowed this recipe from a wonderful site called Okonomiyaki World. Check them out for okonomiyaki information. You can also buy ingredients on this site like the flour, sauce, and Japanese mayonnaise. Good to know for all you expat returnees who miss your food and have no Asian grocer close to home!

When we make okonomiyaki at home, we use the recipe on the okonomiyaki flour bag. As for ingredients, we wing it. We are partial to adding bacon and corn, lots of sauce, and Kewpie mayo. Sometimes we toss in whatever we've got leftover in the fridge. But you know it's okonomiyaki. Use whatever you want!

okonomiyaki topped 3 ways: smoked sausage, bacon, and a mix of meat
okonomiyaki topped 3 ways: smoked sausage, bacon, and a mix of meat

Okonomiyaki Recipe

You'll find this recipe also on the recipe page at this site. SIMPLE OKONOMIYAKI (thanks to Okonomiyaki World):


  • 1 cup Okonomiyaki flour (found at most Asian food stores)

    • or all-purpose flour (you can get fancy and add potato, corn, or yam starch to make it stickier, but regular flour will work)

  • 2/3 cup water

  • Whisk flour and water together until smooth in the largest bowl you've got.

To the batter, stir in (but don't overmix):

  • 2 eggs

  • 4 cups of shredded cabbage

Other stuff you can mix in:

  • thinly sliced green onions (about 2 stalks)

  • pickled ginger (found in Asian stores)

  • raw shrimp in 1/2" chunks or very small shrimp

    • Or other foods of similar size, like cooked chicken (cut into 1/2" chunks), veggies (partially cooked for thicker veg), other seafoods, or meat

  • cheese (IMHO cheese is delicious in okonomiyaki even though we were skeptical before trying it at our favorite okonomiyaki joint in Japan. Kind of a cabbagey grilled cheese.)

Optional to put on the pancake while cooking:

  • Bacon or similar, about 6 strips cut into 3" pieces (Japanese bacon is more like British bacon, less crispy than American bacon. Canadian bacon works well)

    • we've tried pulled pork (delicious), pepperoni (wasn't our thing), smoked sausage, chorizo and pickled jalapeño (delicious), and pancetta

Traditional toppings after it's cooked (best in this order):

  • Sauce (recipe below)

  • Kewpie or other Japanese Mayonnaise (This kind of food is one of the reasons why Japanese mayo comes in a squirt bottle. It's a topper, not a sandwich condiment).

  • Aonori (seaweed flakes)

  • Katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)

Once again, the toppings are your choice, but it's not the same without the sauce. You can buy okonomiyaki sauce or make it.


  • 3 TB ketchup

  • 1 TB Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 ts Soy Sauce

Kewpie mayo and a popular okonomiyaki sauce
Kewpie mayo and a popular okonomiyaki sauce

Pouring out the batter onto the hot, oiled griddle
Pouring out the batter onto the hot, oiled griddle

The technique:

  • Oil a griddle to about 400F (200C) and pour about 1/2 the batter into a pancake shape or all batter into 2 shapes if you've got the room.

  • Flatten the pancake with a spatula to about 3/4" and about 12" wide.

  • Add bacon pieces to cover the top of each pancake. You can also brush on some sauce now, if you like it saucy.

  • After about 3 minutes, flip the pancake (bacon side down) and cook for another 4 minutes. It's tricky to flip! Don't sweat the mess.

  • Brush with sauce and flip pancake again (bacon side up) and cook for another 3 minutes or until firm and well browned.

  • Remove to plate and drizzle with okonomiyaki sauce. Make lovely patterns with your squirty mayo. Sprinkle with Aonori and Katusobushi (or not).

Eat it hot! It's not a reheat type of food.

Okay, it's not super healthy unless you skip the sauce, mayo, bacon, etc. But dagnabbit, it is delicious. And fun!"

okonomiyaki topped with sauce and mayo
okonomiyaki topped with sauce and mayo

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1 comentário

10 de mai.

Interesting to see how another culture makes their Pancakes 🥞

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