The Hippie Husband has fond memories of cooking okonomiyaki tableside at bars when he interned in Japan. He described it to us as cabbage-bacon-omelet-pancakes. We made okonomiyaki a few times before we had kids, but we hadn’t had it in awhile.
Both kids love cooking and were happy to give this a shot. We set up the griddle, chopped the ingredients, and set out on an adventure. It was dinner and entertainment. We had a blast. Little Hippie *loved* this and can’t wait until our next okonomiyaki night. Baby Hippie was not a big fan, but I’m hoping he will come around after we have it a few more times. I think he would’ve liked it better if he had been able to do as much of the cooking as his sister did. He wasn’t old enough to work the griddle. Little Hippie was able to make her own dish from start to finish, which was a lot more fun.
My apologies for the pictures – it ended up being a stormy Tuesday, so our lighting was not ideal for food photography. I hope you can still get the idea of how the process works.
Start by preparing the ingredient choices. Traditional okonomiyaki usually incorporates pork belly – we used uncured bacon. We also offered chopped green onions, tiny tofu cubes, cheese, and chopped bell peppers. There are no rules – put out a few bowls with whatever things your group likes.
The batter comes next (recipe is below). Shred your cabbage more finely than the pictures suggest – our pieces were a bit too large. Still delicious, but they messed with the texture a little.
Heat a griddle to medium heat. Divide the batter into individual bowls and let your diners choose their extra ingredients. If you are using pork belly or bacon, do not add those yet – they will cook separately for awhile. Gently fold the non-pork extras into the batter.
Add a little peanut oil (use canola if allergies are a concern) to the griddle. We use a squeeze bottle to make things easier, but it’s not necessary if you don’t already have squeeze bottles. Dump the batter onto the griddle. If you are using bacon, arrange the meat alongside the pancake so that it can cook thoroughly.
After about 4 minutes, start checking the bottom of the okonomiyaki. When it starts to turn golden brown, it’s time to flip it over.
Before the flip, place the partially cooked bacon on top of the pancake. It will finish cooking when you turn the pancake. Using a spatula, gently flip the okonomiyaki to the other side. It’s finished when the underside starts browning.
Toppings are as widely varied as your imagination. Traditional okonomiyaki sauce is basically a mix of ketchup, worcestershire sauce, sugar, and oyster sauce. Mayonnaise is also a popular topping. For this outing, we offered ketchup, bbq sauce, mayo, and salsa.
This is such a fun way to spend an evening and prepare dinner together. Okonomiyaki will definitely go into our regular rotation of meals!
Ingredients (this recipe makes 4 large pancakes):
- 1/2 of a large cabbage, finely shredded
- 2 cups flour
- 2 2/3 cups warm water
- 4 eggs
- 2 tsp. dashi powder or bonito flakes
- Mix-ins (anything you want to add to the batter for the perfect savory pancake – green onions, peppers, tofu, meat, cheese, greens – whatever moves you)
- Bacon or pork belly (optional)
- Toppings (again – whatever you like. See the description above for suggestions. In a pinch, just put out ketchup and mayonnaise)
- Peanut or canola oil
- Whisk the eggs with the warm water and dashi powder/bonito flakes. Add the flour and whisk until the lumps disappear. Fold in the shredded cabbage.
- Start heating a large griddle over medium heat.
- Divide the batter into 4 bowls. Allow each person to add their chosen mix-ins (except for any bacon – that gets cooked separately at first)
- Add a squirt or large spoonful of oil to the griddle for each serving.
- Carefully pour each bowl of batter onto the griddle. Use a spatula to keep the batter from spreading too thinly – you want the pancakes to be a little less than an inch thick. If you are using bacon, lay out the slices on the griddle nearby.
- After a few minutes, start checking the bottoms of the pancakes. Once they are golden brown, move the bacon to the top of the pancake, then flip it so the bacon is face-down. The bacon will finish cooking with the other side of the pancake.
- Serve and allow diners to select their desired toppings.