Anyone who’s ever been to Osaka, Japan, knows and loves okonomiyaki.
No trip to the Land of the Rising Sun is complete without a bite of this street food favorite; a savory pancake of sorts made from cabbage, bean sprouts and onions that’s covered in an okonomi sauce and Kewpie mayonnaise, then topped with signature bonito flakes that seem to “dance” in the steam.
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New Yorkers who dine at Shalom Japan know this treat well. The Williamsburg eatery fuses the Jewish and Japanese culinary styles of its husband and wife owners, respectively, and the Kansai Style Okonomiyaki is a real crowd pleaser.
“Though I consider my hometown of Hiroshima to be the okonomiyaki capital of Japan (others say that it’s Osaka), at home, we like to make the Kansai-style okonomiyaki from the region that encompasses Osaka,” says Shalom Japan’s co-owner Sawako Okochi, alongside her husband, Aaron Israel. “The Kansai style is simpler; the ingredients are mixed together in a single batter, whereas Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki calls for more elaborate layering. Okonomi translates to ‘how you like it.’ Consider this recipe the most basic version.”
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Okochi says that “how you like it” bit translates to the toppings. Her family enjoys their okonomiyaki with bacon, egg and cheese toppings for a hearty breakfast vibe—they’re “riff on the classic New York bodega sandwich.”
“We lay a strip of raw bacon on top when we first put the batter in the pan,” she says. “When we flip it, the bacon renders and cooks into the top side of the pancake. Once the okonomiyaki is done cooking, we melt a slice of mild cheddar on top before adding the okonomi sauce and Kewpie mayo. Top with a sunny side up egg and sprinkle the remaining toppings to finish.”
However you like your okonomiyaki is up to you, but Sawako has lovingly shared her base recipe with us below, including the recipe for home-made okonomi sauce.
The sauce directions yield one cup, and the pancakes are set to serve four to six. It takes about five minutes to make the sauce and one hour to make the pancakes.
Enjoy, and itadakimasu!
Kansai Style Okonomiyaki
Note: The dashi or water must be chilled. Otherwise, the liquid will cook the gluten and make the batter gummy.
- ½ cup ketchup
- ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon plus 1½ teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup rice flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup cold dashi or 1 cup cold water plus 1 teaspoon dashi powder
- 2 cups green cabbage, shredded and packed tightly
- 2 cups bean sprouts
- 1 cup thinly sliced onion
- ¾ cup canola oil
- Okonomi sauce
- Kewpie mayonnaise, for drizzling
- 2 tablespoons scallions
- 1 teaspoon ao-nori
- Bonito flakes, for sprinkling
- Mix the ketchup, Worcestershire, soy sauce, and honey in a small bowl until thoroughly combined.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a year.
- Combine the all-purpose flour, rice flour, salt, sugar and baking soda in a medium bowl, and mix until all the dry ingredients are evenly distributed.
- Pour in the dashi and whisk until just incorporated. Just like any pancake batter, do not overmix. It can be a bit lumpy, which is okay. You don’t want to over-develop the gluten and make the pancakes tough.
- Add the cabbage, bean sprouts and onion to the batter and mix by hand until everything is evenly distributed. (If you like, you can make the batter up to a day in advance. Before cooking, pour any liquid off the top that was released from the vegetables.)
- Preheat the oven to its lowest setting, and prepare a baking sheet fitted with a cooling rack or lined with foil.
- Heat an 8-inch cast iron or other non-stick pan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the canola oil.
- Once the oil is hot and starts to shimmer, stir the okonomiyaki batter once or twice to ensure the vegetables are evenly distributed, then add 1 cup of the okonomiyaki batter to the pan, and spread it into a round, even pancake about 6 inches across.
- Cook until the sides start to brown, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Flip the okonomiyaki and add another tablespoon of canola oil to the pan. Continue cooking for another 4 to 5 minutes, until the second side is golden brown.
- Flip the okonomiyaki once more and cook until crispy, about 1 minute.
- Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining okonomiyaki batter.
- To serve, put the okonomiyaki on a serving plate. Brush with a thin layer of the okonomiyaki sauce. Drizzle with Kewpie mayo, and sprinkle with some scallions, ao-nori and bonito flakes. Serve immediately.
Visit Shalom Japan in Brooklyn and online for more delicious dishes and inspiration.