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.
- 3 cups cabbage, finely shredded on a mandolin
- 1 bunch scallions, white and green parts, chopped (a little more than 1 cup)
- 1 cup panko (up to ¼ cup more if your mixture is overly watery after you add the eggs)
- 3 eggs, beaten
- A splash of extra-virgin olive oil, for the pan
- Sea salt and fresh black 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: ¼ cup mayo, plus 1 teaspoon honey, plus ¼ teaspoon sriracha*
- Sesame seeds
- Bonito flakes (optional – these are not vegetarian)
- Mix together the cabbage, scallions, and panko. Add a few pinches of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Gently mix in the eggs. This will be on the watery side, but if it feels much too watery, add ¼ cup more panko. Don’t add much more than that; this should not become a dry dough.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Add a few splashes of olive oil.
- Using a quarter-cup measuring cup or similar-sized scooping device, drop the batter into the skillet and flatten gently with a spatula. Turn the heat down to medium and cook the okonomiyakis on each side for 2-3 minutes. If you’re making larger pancakes, cook each side for 3-4 minutes.
- Remove from the pan, brush with the Worcestershire sauce, squeeze the sweet mayo on top, and top with the sesame seeds and the bonito flakes, if using.