Okonomiyaki is referred to as a Japanese pizza because of its shape and toppings, yet it tastes nothing like pizza but rather like a savory pancake. "Okonomi" means "what you like" and "yaki" means "fried." These puffy egg pancakes are versatile and convenient since you can use any of your favorite foods--bits of meat, seafood or shredded vegetables—you have on hand. You can easily transform leftovers into a delicious new dish that cooks up quickly. In Japan, okonomiyaki is a popular national dish made in nearly all home kitchens as well on street vendor griddles.
Regions in Japan have their own slightly different version. Best known are the Kansai (or Osaka)-style which mixes all the ingredients together in the batter and Hiroshima-style in which the ingredients are layered. The latter style also includes a lot more cabbage, perhaps because it hails from a farming region. This is a simple basic recipe which you can choose to make in either style.
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup flour
2/3 cup dashi
1 tsp. soy sauce
3 cups cabbage, finely shredded*
¼ cup green onions, sliced
Toppings to choose from:
sliced cooked pork
sliced chicken or beef
diced cooked seafood (shrimp, octopus, squid)
¼ cup tenkasu** (fried tempura batter bits) optional
Garnish and condiments:
Ao-nori (green seaweed flakes)
Katsuobushi (dried bonito shavings)
tonkatsu sauce or Japanese steak sauce
pickled ginger slices (shouga)
Heat a griddle or skillet until very hot. Brush with vegetable oil. In a small bowl, blend together the flour, dashi, eggs, and soy sauce. Batter should be thin. Add finely shredded cabbage* and green onions and blend well. Pour a little of the batter on the hot griddle to make a small pancake shape. Top with your favorite items. When the bottom is cooked, carefully flip over the okonomiyaki and continue cooking until done. Garnish with drizzles of tonkatsu sauce and Japanese mayonnaise katsuobushi, ao-nori and pickled ginger.
*Some cooks prefer to cook the cabbage separately on the griddle and place it on the pancake with the rest of the toppings.
**Tenkasu: I love the crunchy bits of fried tempura batter! Next time you make any type of tempura, be sure to fry the leftover batter. Sprinkle the batter in the hot oil to create small pieces. Fry until golden brown, drain on paper towels and store in an air-tight container for use in not only okonomiyaki but as a crunchy condiment on your bowl of hot ramen noodles.