Savory pancake. お好み焼き、おこのみやき。
Okonomiyaki is a savory pancake on which you can select a number of ingredients “as you like,” – the meaning of “okonomi.” The pancake is made from thick batter consisting of flour, finely cut cabbage, grated yam, eggs and dashi or water to which ingredients are added that give character to the pancake: beef, pork, squid, octopus, shrimp, oysters, etc.
The okonomiyaki is baked on both sides on a iron plate. Metal spatulas are used for turning the okonomiyaki around and to cut it in pieces when it is ready. Before that, it is coated with a thick, sweet sauce and topped with green seaweed flakes (aonori) and bonitoflakes (katsuobushi) – due to the heat, those flakes seem to dance on the pancake! Nowadays, also mayonnaise is added.
[Okonomiyaki in Hiroshima style. Photo Ad Blankestijn]
Okonomiyaki is eaten everywhere in Japan. There are several local varieties. The usual one served all over the country is the one in Osaka style, where all ingredients are mixed together. This one really resembles a pancake. The second popular style is from Hiroshima, where the ingredients are not mixed with the batter, but stacked in layers and where also three to four times as much cabbage is used. Fried noodles are also often added.
In Okonomiyaki-restaurants you usually sit at a table with an iron plate so that you can prepare your own pancake – happily, the restaurant staff also helps out because the right timing is not so easy!