Japan AFF: Okonomiyaki

Some twelve years ago when I first moved to Melbourne, Daimaru was one of the biggest Japanese Chain right in the CBD. To be specific, it used to occupy the majority of Melbourne Central. Why did I bring a shopping centre into this picture? Well, anyone still remembers the Okonomiyaki they used to serve at their food section? That has to be one of my tastiest memories when it comes to Japanese food. You see, growing up in Bintulu, my knowledge of Japanese food was limited to sushi, and expensive seafood. There wasn’t even one Japanese restaurant back home (there are a couple now, I believe), so when my friend brought me to try this Okonomiyaki during my first couple of months of settling in Melbourne, it was a revelation. To be honest I have already forgotten what made their version so good, but I’m sure a few Melbournians are still nodding your heads right now… right? By the way, Daimaru closed down the same year I moved to Melbourne, so I had to resort to other places, but never had one as good as theirs.

Literally, Okonomiyaki means “Grilled what you like”, it’s almost like a Japanese version of Pizza (although the consistency is probably more like pancake), where you can choose a variety of toppings. Cabbage is usually the main ingredient and I have seen Bacon being used in most recipes. Although the ones I used to buy in food courts in Melbourne are largely meat free.

Okonomiyaki, the way I like it.
Okonomiyaki, the way I like it.

Since we kicked off the Asian Food Fest (organised by Wendy again following the very successful Malaysian Food Fest) with Japan, I thought I would share this recipe with you. I have kept it really simple and used special Okonomiyaki flour which you can now buy in most supermarket (so I don’t have to get everything else separately and end up not using them). To me, Okonomiyaki means convenience, so I allow myself to ‘cheat’ a bit here.

Basic Okonomiyaki

50g Okonomiyaki Flour (if not using special flour, use all purpose flour with some dashi powder, bonito flakes, tempura bits)
1/3 cup of Water (or Dashi stock)
1 Egg
Cabbage, around 150g, cut into small strips
3 stalks Spring Onions, finely chopped
3 strips of Bacon
Handful of Bonito Flakes
Okonomi sauce, to taste (easily found at the Jap food section of your supermarket)
Kewpie Mayonnaise, to taste
Optional: Prawns, Chinese Sausages, Benishoga (Pickled Ginger)

Whisk, whisk away!
Whisk, whisk away! You can see this flour has some bits of tempura as well as bonito flakes already.

In a large bowl, whisk together Okonomiyaki Flour and Water until smooth

Add Eggs, Cabbage, Spring Onions and mix, but don’t over mix.

Ready to go!
Ready to go!

Heat a bit of oil in the large skillet and add Okonomiyaki mixture.

Here we go!
Here we go!

Using a spatula to flatten and form pancakes until around 1.5cm (3/4″) thick. Add Bacon pieces to cover top of each pancake.

Not perfectly round, nevermind, the sauces will cover it.
Not perfectly round, nevermind, the sauces will cover it.

After about 3 minutes, flip over pancake (bacon side down) and cook for 4 minutes. You might want to flip to do the other side if it’s not fully browned.

Forgot to take a photo before I flip. So here's a second flip. Haha!
Forgot to take a photo before I flip. So here’s a second flip. Haha!

Remove to plate and drizzle with Kewpie mayonnaise, okonomi sauce and sprinkle with more Boniko flakes.

Serve hot!
Serve hot!

It’s not the most elegant dish, but I suppose it’s more of a comfort food. At least for me.

Want some?
Want some?

I love the complexity of the flavours despite using very few ingredients. Fun textural contrast between the pancake, slightly crunchy cabbage and crispy bacon. I did have to split this into 2 portions though (still recovering from my illness so appetite is not quite there yet). I might try a salmon version next time, or mentaiko. Yum.

What is your favourite Okonomiyaki topping? Do you have a favourite Japanese dish?

I am submitting this to Asian Food Fest Japan Month, hosted by Alan of Travelling Foodies.
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50 thoughts on “Japan AFF: Okonomiyaki

  1. drools… I love okonomiyaki… always wanted to make this but I just cannot read the darn label on those ready packed okonomiyaki batter mix. So gonna try this soon…

    oh ya.. the whisk is super cute!!! Daiso?

    1. Maybe you can give it a try! Usually people would put prawns or octopus in it too (don’t really like seafood that much and bacon is already sinful enough for me). I got the piggy whisk from Melbourne. 😛 It’s a shop called house.

  2. Thanks for the recipe Kelly! I’ll love to try making this on my own, but to be honest I don’t really like Kewpie mayo (the vinegar they use doesn’t agree with my taste buds) but a lot of people love it.

    I used to hang out at Melbourne Central too, this was before Fed Square was completed. It’s usually my first stop since there was zoning at that time (Clayton is Zone 2 and Huntingdale Zone 1 (which is just a quick 5 minute drive away, so that’s where I’ll park and take the train to central).

    1. There are a few good homemade kewpie mayo recipes out there, you could play around with it and substitute the rice wine vinegar for lemon juice or something.

      My place was right at the cross over of zone 1 and zone 2 as well (Bentleigh), but I always drove to work since I worked in the opposite direction (either Dandenong or Clayton) ie against the traffic, so no problem la.

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