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.
makes 2 large pancakes or about 8 small ones (size shown). Serves 2 as a main, 3-4 as an appetizer or side.
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…)
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)
bonito flakes (optional – these are not vegetarian)
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.