veggie okonomiyaki

Jack has been talking about okonomiyaki ever since we got back from Japan (2 years ago this week… time sure flies). I don’t know why it took me so long to take a stab… it turned out to be very easy and pretty darn foolproof. As well it should be, the word okonomiyaki roughly translates to “what you want grilled.”

During our trip, I did my best to avoid this Anthony-Bordain-mystery-meat-style street food until we were in Hiroshima one afternoon (there’s a sentence I never imagined I’d write) and there were no other options.

It was good, I liked it… but it was super greasy. As with all travel-inspired food, I want to make the disclaimer that my version here is probably not at all authentic. (Especially for Hiroshima, whose style of okonomiyaki also has noodles in it).

I made these lighter, smaller, and, remarkably, on the healthy side. Jack made fun of me for how green and pretty they turned out. Traditional okonomiyaki is roughly the size of a human head and is unapologetically stuffed with various meats and seafood. But I promise, this veggie version is hardly a compromise. Salty, sweet, eggy goodness… even Jack, who ate more okonomiyaki in Japan than he’s willing to admit, loved it.

adapted from Food 52 and 101 Cookbooks

makes 2 large pancakes or about 8 small ones (size shown). Serves 2 as a main, 3-4 as an appetizer or side.

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups cabbage, finely shredded on a mandoline
1 bunch scallions, white and green parts, chopped (a little more than 1 cup)
1 cup panko (up to 1/4 cup more if your mixture is overly watery after you add the eggs)
3 eggs, beaten
a splash of oil, for the pan
salt & pepper
(optional other fillings: chopped shrimp, meat, etc…)

toppings:
vegan worcestershire sauce (we found that the ingredients in Annie’s brand are remarkably close to the actual ingredients in okonomiyaki sauce.

. Regular worcestershire is less sweet and the sauce should be slightly sweet).

sweet mayo: 1/4 cup mayo (I used vegan mayo), plus 1 teaspoon honey, plus 1/4 teaspoon sriracha. (put it in a squirt bottle, or a small plastic bag with a tiny corner cut off)

sesame seeds
bonito flakes (optional – these are not vegetarian)

METHOD:
Mix together cabbage, scallions, and panko. Add a few pinches of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Gently mix in eggs. This will be on the watery side, but if it feels much too watery, add 1/4 more panko. Don’t add much more than that, this should not become a dry dough.

Heat a large skillet to medium-high. Add a few splashes of olive oil.

Using a quarter-cup measuring cup (or similar sided scooping device), drop the batter into the skillet and flatten gently with a spatula. Turn the heat down to medium and cook okonomiyakis on each side for 2-3 minutes. (or if you’re making larger pancakes, cook each side for 3-4 minutes).

Remove from pan, brush with worcestershire sauce, squeeze sweet mayo on top, and top with sesame seeds and (optional) bonito flakes.

26 comments

  1. Courtney Jones from thefigtree.blogspot.com on said:

    I’m so glad you posted a recipe for okonomiyaki! I’ve been looking to make some, but wanted to find a really good recipe. Thanks so much for sharing! I’m going to Japan next year for a few weeks. Looking forward to trying the real thing while there :)

  2. Eileen from hampiesandwiches.blogspot.com on said:

    What a great way to eat cabbage! I often throw a bunch of it into savory chickpea pancakes–but I think the egg is a perfect idea. I’ve never made okonomiyaki–I guess I will now!

  3. Wow! Could this be any easier! LOVE this idea. Really reminds me of the food trucks and trailers since this actually would be a fantastic on-the-go food… now that I think of it, even a nice thing to travel with (I am always traveling so I like to keep my eye out for good “plane” food). Plus, I love any recipe that has the option of throwing left-overs into. Definitely having to put this my list!

  4. Laura from twin-food.blogspot.com on said:

    Wow – they look delicious!! :)

  5. Katie from katieatthekitchendoor.com on said:

    These look really good – light and easy and veggie-ful. Great recipe! I’ll have to try this one out pretty soon.

  6. That is too funny… I made okonomiyaki right away after I returned from Japan and then made it just again this week, 3 years later, completely inauthentic in a vegan way! I hope to share it on my blog later this week. :) Your version looks great, too. :)

  7. I am always telling myself to experiment more with Asian flavors and recipes and I rarely follow through on it! And, I love cabbage – but so rarely have occasion to use it. So this kind of covers both bases. I wonder, could I use napa cabbage?

    • jeanine from loveandlemons.com on said:

      I would think napa cabbage would work… I might not slice it quite as thin as regular green cabbage since it’s not as thick…

    • Auth from facebook.com on said:

      Woop woop to you!I found your blog today and cannot stop radieng it. Your writing is very simple and yet beautiful, you are very inspiring so please keep it up! How long have you been vegan for? Has it been since August 08?I went vegan last October and relate a lot to the things that you say. Thankfully, I didn’t become vegan because I was ill. I decided it was time for me to open my eyes to the harsh reality of the animals’ condition, the damage caused to the environment and to my body.Thanks for sharing your experience. Your blog is now listed in my favourites!Alex

  8. Kasey from turntablekitchen.com on said:

    I have been dreaming of taking a trip to Japan for years, partially for the food! I love when people take a traditional dish and make it their own (especially if it is healthier!). Beautiful!

  9. Sarah on said:

    I made this for dinner tonight and loved it! I thought my husband might be a bit skeptical of a cabbage based dinner, but he came into the kitchen while it was cooking (because it smelled so delicious) and kept sneaking bites as they came off the skillet!

    Oh, and I used napa cabbage in place of regular (sliced as thinly as I could using my chef’s knife, since I don’t have a mandoline) and it worked great.

    • jeanine from loveandlemons.com on said:

      I’m so glad! My husband was skeptical too :)

  10. Rebecca on said:

    Just made these… I was wondering how they would taste only having cabbage and onion but they were so delicious, and so quick to make! A lovely healthy, tasty weekend meal. Thank you :)

    • jeanine from loveandlemons.com on said:

      thanks! They’re one of our favorites too :)

  11. Allyn from lollingabout.wordpress.com on said:

    We made these last night as a side and I have a feeling they will be returning as a main dish soon. SO GOOD! Though next time I think we’ll kick up the sriracha a notch.

  12. Canal Cook from canalcook.wordpress.com on said:

    Love okonomiyaki, these look fantastic

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