There are two basic okonomiyaki styles.
1 Osaka- all mixed as a fritter
This is the easier one as the egg, flour (rice flour please) and vegetables are mixed together and cooked on a large flat heated surface. The method is very similar to cooking fritters or a large vegetable – rich crumpet. It is topped with slices of pork (or a vegetarian substitute) and flipped over. When done, the top is coated in tangy black sauce, fish flakes (or chopped green onion tops) and finally a flourish of mayonnaise. For both styles, two frying pans can be used - as you will see in my slideshow. If you want a smaller version, try the frying pan and divide the fritter into 4 pieces, as I have done on the slideshow below. We added a blob of Kimchi and it was yummy!
2 The Hiroshima version is cooked in separate layers.
First the pancake batter is spread onto the hot surface, then the cabbage and bean sprouts are piled on, topped with bacon (vegetarians can add strips of smoked tofu or some grated cheese) with another drizzle of batter. Meanwhile a serving of cooked soba (or other gluten free noodles) is fried with oil and seasoning on the hot plate. It is flipped over and the pancake and cabbage layers are lifted and placed on top of the noodles.
Finally a whole egg is cracked onto the cooking surface, spread out and the whole ensemble is flipped over onto the egg. One more flip, so the egg is on top and ready to spread with the sauce. Seaweed flakes are sprinkled on, for the umami taste, but some prefer mayonnaise. The final topping is a generous layer of freshly chopped green leek/spring onion tops. The pancake batter: You can use your favourite pancake batter. For a gluten free version, use an egg with a tablespoon of water and beat in a heaped tablespoon of rice flour. Adjust the runniness so it is like custard. Pork and bacon substitutes: For vegans, look out for smoked tofu and cut it into thin strips. Or make thin strips of salty roasted or fried aubergine beforehand. Otherwise add shavings of smoked cheese. Processed cheese does not melt so much, should you want to remain as authentic as possible. These noodles best resemble spaghetti and are used for the Hiroshima version. Soba is buckwheat and therefore gluten free. Other types of gluten free pasta include blends of quinoa and corn. I found some legume-based ones, made from peas, lentils and beans.
They have a nicer texture and flavour, especially if you cook them in the brine from feta cheese. But that is my variation - not the classic. (My husband refuses to eat “boring, slimy spaghetti or noodles”.)
The cabbage and vegetables: Both versions contain mostly cabbage and sprouts. Finely shred the cabbage so it cooks quickly and evenly during all the “flips”. Look for mung bean sprouts to add to it. I used lentil sprouts as I have them around most of the time. You make them by soaking a handful on water overnight, then tossing them into a sieve. Leave the sieve resting on a bowl. Cover the lentils with a plate and they are ready after 2-3 days.
For the Osaka version, add more chopped vegetables such as leeks or onions, red peppers, shreds of ginger and sweet potato and so on. The sauces and toppings: If you can’t find the classic sticky, tangy sauce, then improvise with a barbecues sauce or a combination of tomato and soy sauce, oil, a little honey and maybe a dash of vinegar. The Japanese mayonnaise is very similar to regular mayo, but it must be drizzled over in a thin stream. These two ingredients add the magic zing to the combination.
The fish flakes and seaweed add depth to the umami savoury note. Kimchi is also a tangy option. Remember that okonomiyaki is – as you like it! The greenery and garnishes: The Hiroshima version is topped with chopped leek, shallot or spring onion leaves. This cuts the grease and goo and adds a fresh green element to the dish. But green garnishes as well as sprinkles of sesame seeds and seaweed flakes can be used on both types. Kimchi can be served separately, but ask for a vegetarian mixture, should you wish to avoid the raw fish. It is easy to make your own at home. It is basically like making sauerkraut and adding leeks, ginger, carrots and chillies.
Okonomiyaki: by John Daub and Kevin Riley. Two versions Osaka (mixed up) Hiroshima (separate pancake) from You tube.