Japanese Okonomiyaki: cook what you like, the way you like – Culinary Tour Around the World

  • Feb 1, 2011

Versione italiana qui


Hello! Are you back from Turkey? How have you been? Hope you’re ready for the next stop of Joan‘s Culinary Tour Around the World: Japan!
Lot of friends of mine have been in Japan during the last years. The most recent is my friend Alessia’s holiday in Tokio and Kyoto: not more than two weeks ago. She said with a few words Japan is “a lesson of civilization”.
People are so nice and friendly, always ready to help you. Maybe Tokyo seemed to be a little bit expensive but considering the economic downturn affecting Japan, too, recently it’s become more competitive. So if you want to eat not so super expensive good food now you can, without spending a fortune.

She said it’s very cold now in Japan, even if it’s always almost sunny. Best time to visit Japan is the beginning of April, when you can see magnificent cherry blossom. May and October are great too.


Photo’s from Bestvacationsdealstoday

Before bringing you to the recipe I’d like to share with you these special gifts my friend Alessia brought me from Japan! Let’s start from this strange candies box (Alessia bought it for joke obviuosly)…which smells of…. Sushi! I tasted one and you can’t imagine how ugly it is! 🙂


Japanese people are really ‘crazy’ for ‘anime’ (cartoons) and ‘manga’ (comics) so this little Snoopy box (that I will use for home-made vegetable&beef stock) will always make me think about this!

 What do you think these two little ‘Jewelry’ and ‘Petite Amie’ boxes may contain? Sweeties? Beads? Make-up?

Noo, they’re full of delicious SILK tea bags! Très chic! Blends are quite original: a combination of black tea, Lychees and sweet berries …and… white chocolate, raspberries and rose petals….I tastes this last and it’s divine.


Last, but not least, a green tea box with ‘Ume‘ flavor! I didn’t know the meaning of ‘Ume’ and neither Alessia. Smell seems similar to almond. Then we discovered that Ume is the small word for ‘Prunus Mume’, commonly known as Japanese Apricot and translated in English as plum blossom, even if it is actually more closely related to apricot than to plum. It’s one of the most beloved flower in East Asia, seen as a symbol of spring and of resilience in the face of adversity…Japanese tradition holds that the Ume functions as a protective charm against evil. I like this tea, I’ll take a bath with it. 🙂 It also seems that in the past  Ume tree blossom was preferred over the ‘sakura’ (cherry) blossom, which became popular later.


And now the recipe: this time I chose to make an ‘Okonomiyaky’, a funny meal that nowadays means “cook what you like, the way you like“. Osaka seems to be recognized as the home of okonomiyaky (even if it is also said that this dish originated in Hiroshima).

It’s a sort of ‘omelette’ or ‘pancake’ (Japanese pancake) made of all sort of ingredients, which are mixed and self-grilled directly by the customer in okonomiyaky restaurants.

Okonomiyaki also appear in some ‘manga’, in  particular in ‘Ai Shite Knight’. Can you remember the ‘anime’ (cartoons) version? Maybe called ‘Love Me Knight’? In Italy ‘Kiss Me Licia’ was really famous in ’80 years and I loved it ! Yakko’s (Licia’s) father had just an okonomiyaki restaurant!!

Usually okonomiyaky it’s made of flour-water-yam-eggs-based batter and then mixed with shredded cabbage. It can be filled with other ingredients as meat or fish. Toppings like eggs or cheese or shrimps are usually added. Finally you can use any sort of sauce like Japanese Worcestershire, mayonnaise, okonomiyaky sauce, kuzu sauce or even soy sauce.  



For the recipe I started from the one explained in Rising Sun Page blog and then I made my own Okonomiyaki with an home-made Okonomiyaki sauce.

Ingredients for pancakes (3-4 Okonomiyaki):

1 Cups water – 1 egg – 1/2 Cup whole wheat flour – 1/2 Cup white flour – 3/4 Cup chopped cabbage – 1/4 Cup ‘Julienne’ carrots (‘sengiri’) –  – 1/4 Cup leeks – 1/4 Cup onion – 1 tsp salt – olive oil (as you like) 

Sauté onion with olive oil and then add the cabbage first. After 5 minutes add carrots and leeks and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add salt, remove from the heat and set aside.

Pour the water and the egg into the flour. Add salt and mix well until your dough is smoothy.

Put the batter in a little pan, sprinkled with olive oil (enough batter to cover the bottom) and add all your vegetables after one minute. Again add batter over the vegetables. Wait a few minutes and when the mixture is set, turn it (to fry the other side). I covered the pan an leave my okonomiyaky on the heat for other 5 minutes more or less).

For my personal ‘Okonomiyaki’ sauce I ‘played by ear’ starting from okonomiyaki sauce basic ingredients: tomatoes, carrots, onion, garlic, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce (I had it at home!), corn starch.. and some kind of fruits like orange and apple (please note it’s just one of the recipes I found on the web, maybe there are other ways to make a better okonomiyaki sauce…!). I boiled 2 tomatoes, 1 carrot, 1/2 onion, 1 leek, 1/2 cup cabbage, 1/2 apple all together, drained them and then I made a sort of cream with all the other ingredients. It wasn’t so bad..:-) This part of the recipe was for me funny…I liked to experience food in this way. I confess it’s more or less like when I mix the colours for painting….:-)

 And now…I’m trilled to see all the other bloggers’ recipes!! Bye and..see you in …Thailand in a couple of weeks! 😉


Here this week’s round up!



  1. Rispondi

    Joan Nova

    Febbraio 1, 2011

    This dish is so interesting and unique. Great job on the pretty swirls you made with the topping.

    P.S. I love all your Japanese souvenirs.

  2. Rispondi


    Febbraio 1, 2011

    Questo viaggio virtuale in Giappone mi è piaciuto moltissimo! Le bustine di the in seta sono elegantissime e poi adoro le scatole di latta! Per non parlare di Kiss me Licia: ecco cosa cucinava instancabilmente Marrabbio 🙂
    Non conoscevo questa iniziativa, a questo punto non vedo l’ora di andare in Tailandia!

    • Rispondi


      Febbraio 1, 2011

      Esatto! e quelle piastre di ferro su cui Marrabbio dai che grigliava..quelle si chiamano teppan e lo stile che ne deriva…:Teppanyaki (tutti i termini giappo finiscono col mio soprannome :-))
      dai partecipa pure tu alla Thailandia! Confesso di aver già fatto ‘scorte’ da Castroni…;-P un bacio

  3. Rispondi


    Febbraio 2, 2011

    Buongiorno Acky, più tardi vengo al leggere col traduttore (sig non lo so l’inglese 🙁 )
    ora ti lascio un link di un blog che parla di kefir: http://omiokefir.blogspot.com/
    Se ti va io posso spedirti i granuli (gratis 😀 ), ne ho tantissimi. Fammi sapere ciao.

  4. Rispondi


    Febbraio 2, 2011

    Ciao Libera, buongiorno! Mi dispiace ke stavolta nn sono riuscita a pubblicare la versione italiana, in genere la metto ma stavolta nn l’ho ancora finita…vedi se col traduttore si capisce qualcosa, se no fammi sapere che tanto oggi pome penso ke la riesco a finire e la pubblico…! Grazie x i grani che carina! ora mi guardo il link e li studio meglio e ti faccio sapere, a dopo

  5. Rispondi


    Febbraio 2, 2011

    The patterns on top of this pancake are amazing and the post was really interesting. I’ve enjoyed everyone’s visits to Japan so much – I’ve learned a huge amount about Japan, its customs and cuisines. Fabulous.

  6. Rispondi


    Febbraio 2, 2011

    You certainly rose to the challenge an conquered it. It was fin to meet up with you virtually on the culinary tour!

    • Rispondi


      Febbraio 2, 2011

      ohh thanks for your big compliment, really nice from you…! I went to visit your blog and I just want to say (yes I know that it has nothing to do with our Japanise tour) that I love your Pastéis de Belem…yummy…;-)

  7. Rispondi


    Febbraio 2, 2011

    @Joan @Sally: you both noticed my patterns…I was’t so satisfied about them, I thought I could do better..! So I’m pleased you liked them, your opinion above all! thanks 🙂 Sally, I totally agree with you about this trip’s experience

  8. Rispondi


    Febbraio 2, 2011

    Awwww…you have such a nice friend to bring you all these lovely souvenirs!
    To make okonomiyaki was a great idea; brought back lots of memories of a tiny second floor restaurant where the family owners made us a special veggie okonomiyaki. They thought it a bit strange, but then …. we were gaijins :))

    Your pattern is really lovely, it reminds of fish scales, totally kewl!

  9. Rispondi

    Michelle @onandoffmyplate.com

    Febbraio 3, 2011

    I love your post…the cherry blossoms just make me smile! Amazing pancakes. So glad to be traveling and cooking with this group!

  10. Rispondi


    Febbraio 3, 2011

    Torwen you always have a surprising story to tell! 🙂 …and you are right about fish scales… I didn’t think! Maybe a little bit confused…:-)

  11. Rispondi


    Febbraio 3, 2011

    I have wanted to make okonomiyaki for the longest time! Yours looks like it turned out beautifully!

  12. Rispondi

    Kitchen Butterfly

    Febbraio 4, 2011

    You brought the spirit of Japan to this post. When I think of Japan I think of blossoms and your first photo is BEAUTIFUL. Love Ume too

  13. Rispondi


    Febbraio 5, 2011

    @Michelle: thanks, and I love your perfect sushi rice! 😉
    @Joanne: Let me know when you are going to try! Post it!
    @Oz: Thank you Oz, this Japanese tour increased my desire to visit Japan..hope to see you in Thailand!

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