Today I’m presenting to you a dish that can be done with so many and so different ingredients, that I doubt there is someone who doesn’t like at least one of them! Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き)!
It is a Japanese pancake containing a variety of ingredients. The name is derived from the word “okonomi”, which means “what you like” or “what you want”, and “yaki”, which means “grilled” or “cooked” (like in takoyaki). Okonomiyaki is mainly associated with Kansai or Hiroshima areas of Japan, but is widely available throughout the country. Toppings and batters tend to vary according to region. Tokyo’s okonomiyaki is usually smaller than a Hiroshima or Kansai okonomiyaki.
The most common “variant” is the Kansai one, easily found all over Japan. The batter is made of flour, grated nagaimo (a type of yam), water or dashi, eggs and shredded cabbage, and usually contains other ingredients such as green onion, meat (generally pork or bacon), octopus, squid, shrimp, vegetables, kimchi, mochi or cheese. Okonomiyaki is sometimes compared to an omelette or a pancake and may be referred to as a “Japanese pizza”.
Some okonomiyaki restaurants are grill-it-yourself establishments, where the server produces a bowl of raw ingredients that the customer mixes and grills at tables fitted with teppan, or special hotplates. They may also have a diner-style counter where the cook prepares the dish in front of the customers.
In Osaka (the largest city in the Kansai region), where this dish is said to have originated, okonomiyaki is prepared much like a pancake. The batter and other ingredients are fried on both sides on either a teppan or a pan using metal spatulas that are later used to slice the dish when it has finished cooking. Cooked okonomiyaki is topped with ingredients that include otafuku/okonomiyaki sauce (similar to Worcestershire sauce but thicker and sweeter), aonori (seaweed flakes), katsuobushi (bonito flakes), Japanese mayonnaise, and pickled ginger (beni shoga).