Okonomiyaki – the first time I ate this dish was in a Japanese Okonomiyaki restaurant in London. In the middle of the restaurant stood a cooking counter fitted with a large ‘teppan’ (hot plate) so customers could sit around it and watch their Okonomiyaki being cooked. It was fun to watch and you can follow how your food is freshly cooked in front of you. Okonomiyaki is made of shredded cabbage, flour and egg with a variety of ingredients such as shrimp, pork, spring onion – topped with Okonomiyaki sauce (tastes a bit like Worcestershire sauce and ketchup), mayonnaise, Katsuobushi (dried bonito fish flakes) and seaweed.
At that time, I didn’t really think of even try to make Okonomiyaki myself, as it looked to me pretty complicated to make. That was until I met a Japanese lady here in Berlin. She cooked Okonomiyaki in such a relaxed way that I realized it was actually not at all difficult and no special cooking equipment is needed (although she has an electric hot plate, but she told me normal non-stick frying pan works just as well!). So I decided to give it a go. After just one try with a mini version, I was ready to make the proper Okonomiyaki.
But I like to make a couple of notes here: you will need two spatulas to flip over the Okonomiyaki. It requires a little practice, but you can always make a smaller size at first as it will be easier to flip. I suggest if you are making more than one, mix the ingredients only for one at a time. It ensures that you have the right flour and egg mix. I made my own Okonomiyaki sauce as I think it is not only easy to make but you can also adjust the taste as desired. But by all means, use shop-bought Okonomiyaki sauce, which you can find in most Asian store
I learnt a trick to squeeze the mayonnaise in lines (like in the picture) without a piping bag. Just put some mayo in the bottom corner of a plastic food bag (like those zippy bags), then cut a small opening in that corner, then squeeze, as you would a piping bag. I use this method for icing on cupcakes as well.
Okonomiyaki is a flexible dish. So be creative and use ingredients that you and your family like and you can make vegetarian versions as well.
For the Okonomiyaki: (makes 1 or 2 small one)
- 120g Cabbage (I use Spitzkohl), wash and finely shred
- 1 small stick of spring onion, finely chop (leave a pinch for garnish)
- 50g cooked shrimps
- 2 heaped tbsp. sweet corn from can
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- 2 heaped tbsp. plain flour
- 1 scant tsp. baking powder
- 1 egg
- 5 tbsp. water (or dashi stock – Japanese fish based stock)
- 2-3 pieces of streaky bacon, cut into medium (about 6cm) pieces
- Vegetable oil
For the sauce: (Makes 1 serving)
- 1 ½ tbsp. Ketchup
- 1 ½ tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- ½ Oyster sauce
- ½ tsp. sugar
- Okonomiyaki sauce
- Chopped spring onion
Put all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and mix well until all the sugar is dissolved. Set aside for serving.
In a large mixing bowl, mix flour, baking powder and water/dashi stock until well combined. Now add cabbage, spring onion, shrimps, sweet corn, salt and pepper, mix well. Add the egg at last and lightly combine all the ingredients in the bowl, do not over mix it.
Heat a large non-stick pan on high heat; use a paper towel to brush some oil on the pan (a bit like greasing your cake tin when you bake). Empty the content from the mixing bowl and use your spatula to gather the mixture together in the center. Slightly press on top to make it flat, then shape the Okonomiyaki on the side, repeat until you get a round shape (see picture). Cover the Okonomiyaki with bacon pieces. Turn the heat down to medium/medium low and cover with a lid for about 8 to 10 minutes. Then carefully flip over the Okonomiyaki with two spatulas, gently press it down and again lid on and cook for another 10 minutes until both sides are golden and crispy on the surfaces. Transfer the Okonomiyaki on a serving plate and brush with Okonomiyaki sauce and Mayonnaise, sprinkle with spring onion and serve.