Dana Slatkin

Japanese Vegetable Pancake (Okonomiyaki お好み焼き)

japanese vegetable pancake

Photo credit: Blake Slatkin

During the week, family dinner is mandatory in my house. It’s the one hour in the day when we all slow down, stash our phones away, and tune into each other. There are no excuses: everyone shows up. It’s also the highlight of my day. But like anything worthwhile, weeknight meals take some effort to pull off.

So when I recently served a tasty new vegetable dish that was devoured in seconds, I knew I had a keeper. Have you ever heard of Okonomiyaki? Neither had I. The crispy Japanese cabbage pancakes are a street food staple in Japan. Ever since they were rebranded by a couple of enterprising chefs as “Japanese pizza,” Okonomiyaki (which roughly translates to “as you like it, grilled”) have caught on with the gastropub set, appearing on all-day menus at indie cafés around the country.

These addictive savory fritters are usually doused with two different sauces: a tangy ketchup-based Okonomi sauce and Kewpie mayonnaise, which tastes a bit like Miracle Whip (and contains MSG, so I prefer to make my own). It’s breakfast on-the-go for Japan’s busy ranks…and it’s downright delicious.

After some tinkering, I came up with a formula that finally gives humble green cabbage its due. Variations are endless: try adding corn, peas, sweet potato, butternut squash, beet, eggplant, turnip, mushrooms, even Brussels sprouts. The broth (or sake) in the batter allows the vegetables to steam on the inside while becoming irresistibly crusty outside. Just make sure to shred the vegetables (by hand or in the food processor) and brown them well (a cast iron pan or even waffle iron work well).

When flipping the Okonomiyaki, there’s some technique involved. You swiftly invert the pancake onto a plate, then slide it back into the pan carefully. Be sure to wear an oven mitt (this one is my favorite) so you don’t burn yourself.

It may take some practice, but the end result is worth the effort. Then again, it almost always is.

You might also like:

Hearty Japanese Minestrone Soup

Seared Tuna with Asian Cabbage Slaw

Kale Peanut Slaw

Sesame Soy Roasted Cauliflower

The Fall Giveaway has been posted! Enter as many times as you wish to win a stylish set of prep bowls from The Farmgirl Shop .

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Comments

  1. Debora Dale says:

    This sounds like exactly what I want to make tonight…thanks Dana for so many great additions to my recipe files over the years! And it’s wonderful to hear that you also insist on a nightly dinner coming-together…..

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