Okonomiyaki, known around the world as "Japanese Pancakes," are as fun to eat as they are to make. With "okonomi" translating to "what you like" and "yaki" meaning "grilled," the possibilities are indeed endless and as creative as you are. I've tried many different types of okonomiyaki in various Japanese restaurants around New York City, but when I made my own at home I decided to take a less traditional, healthier and veggie-friendly approach.
I've made these a few times with what I had on hand, so feel free to substitute scallions and onions for big, bright leeks, or turnips with potatoes, and kale with your favorite leafy green.
Be sure not to skimp on the cabbage, though, because cabbage is the mainstay ingredient for Japanese pancakes and mustn't be overlooked. Leave out the cabbage and you basically have latkes! Finish the pancakes with a drizzle of spicy miso mayo, cilantro and a sprinkle of bonito flakes or dashi, and voilà! Say Ohayou to okonomiyaki, a savory treat you can enjoy for breakfast, lunch or any time of day. Kampai!
Okonomiyaki with Turnip, Kale and Spicy Miso Mayo
Ingredients for Okonomiyaki
- 2 cups cabbage, sliced into fine strips
- 1 large turnip, grated
- 1 cup packed kale, sliced thinly into ribbons
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 inch piece of ginger grated
- 1 small white pearl onion chopped
- 1 Tbsp. tamari
- A few green scallions, chopped, plus more to garnish (pickled if available)
- A few sprigs of cilantro to garnish
- A big pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper
- 2/3 cup whole wheat flour (or your favorite gluten-free flour option)
- 2 eggs, beaten (or egg replacement equivalent)
- 1-2 Tbsp. peanut oil or any oil of your choosing with a high smoking point
Ingredients for Spicy Miso Mayo
- 1 Tbsp. safflower mayo
- 1-1.5 tsp. sambal oelek or Sriracha (depending on how spicy you like it!)
- 1 tsp. white miso (or more to taste)
- A splash tamari and water until desired thickness is reached
Whisk together spicy miso mayo ingredients and set aside.
Wash and prep the veggies.
Whisk the eggs and add to the vegetables with the flour, stirring until well combined. Heat a large skillet over medium heat with the oil; then, using your hands, start with about a 1/2 cup amount of the cabbage veggie mixture, forming it into a patty. You can add a little more if it appears to be holding shape and then lay onto the hot griddle. Make the pancakes as big or as small as you like.
Add a few more patties to the pan as if you were making regular pancakes, then press down on the top of each with the back of a spatula and allow to cook on one side for about 5-7 min, checking occasionally to prevent them from burning. Flip and cook the other side for another 5 min until golden brown.
Keep warm in a warming oven covered in foil until you've run out of cabbage mixture, then serve immediately. Garnish with chopped cilantro, spicy mayo, scallions and bonito or dashi flakes.