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Japanese Okonomiyaki

I’ve long wanted to visit Japan, but haven’t made it there yet (unless you could a connection at Narita, where I bought some Suntory Japanese whiskey).  So, when a friend needed a place to host a Japanese party to cook traditional okonomiyaki, I happily volunteered.

Wikipedia says okonomiyaki is made of two Japanese words, meaning “what you like” and “grilled.”  It’s a bit like a giant pancake, where the batter is mixed with various ingredients: cabbage, pork, bacon, octopus… whatever you like!

Here’s a shot of the batter, just beginning to cook:

Okonomiyaki batter, freshly poured in the pan

Okonomiyaki batter, freshly poured in the pan

That’s a variant with octopus chunks.  It was very tasty.  Thanks to the German gentlemen who sliced the octopus.  This is not easy, as it’s quite slippery.  Another tip if you are looking to buy octopus or squid in Germany: they are both often called Tintenfisch (inky fish).  So, make sure you know which one you’re getting.  Long, tubular body with small tentacles = squid, small body with long tentacles replete with big suckers = octopus.

Slicing the octopus for okonomiyaki

Slicing the octopus for okonomiyaki

Here’s a shot of the whole process:

All the stages, from batter to finished product

All the stages, from batter to finished product

I couldn’t decide if the octopus or bacon okonomiyaki was better.  Then I remembered how much I love bacon…

Bacon okonomiyaki, halfway cooked

Bacon okonomiyaki, halfway cooked

At last, the finished and garnished okonomiyaki.  It’s traditionally doused with barbecue sauce, mayonnaise, seaweed flakes, and fish flakes, as I understand.

The finished product: okonomiyaki with bbq sauce, seaweed, and fish flakes!

The finished product: okonomiyaki with bbq sauce, seaweed, and fish flakes!

We sliced it into pieces before devouring it with chopsticks. I’m curious how it’s eaten in Japan: with the fingers? Or, is it broken into bits with chopsticks? It doesn’t seem possible to pick up the whole thing at once with the sticks, though I’m only a Western chopstick expert, not a native user.

Here’s the recipe from our Japanese master cook, Nina:

  • At first, we need to prepare wheat flour (405), water, egg, cabbage, and oil. In addition, add some favorite cooking ingredients such as cheese, pork, Dashi-no-moto, etc. It may be a good idea to customize your okonomi-yaki with octopus and squid, beef, or garlic.
  • Important: have to mix flour and water before adding other ingredients.
  • Don’t forget to add some oil in the frying pan!
  • Cook with a very low heat. Put sliced meat on top of the okonomiyaki. If you don’t use any sliced meat, it’s a good idea to put a lid over the pan to aid in cooking.
  • Flip it over (with 2 spatulas if needed). It’s finished when the second side is cooked through. Try it with your favorite sauce!

And here’s a recipe with proportions (though mine was made by an authentic Japanese expert, so I cannot vouch for this recipe 100%): Okonomiyaki recipe

If you’re a Japanese food & culture lover, you’ve got to try this dish!  Even though I’ve never yet been there, I felt as if I were in Hiroshima at a traditional restaurant eating this famous Japanese food.  Enjoy!

Posted 8 years, 1 month ago.

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