Food is not only a necessity for sustaining life, but for some of us food is the source of joy and pleasure. Japanese cuisine has been fascinating food lovers all over the world.
One of the most ubiquitous and popular Japanese foods is okonomiyaki.
Okonomiyaki is a savory pancake that is representative of the diverse food culture in Japan.
In this article, we will explore the ingredients of okonomiyaki, its unique flavor, and ways to enjoy this mouthwatering dish.
What is Okonomiyaki?
Okonomiyaki is often called a “Japanese pancake”, although it is more accurately a savory version of a pancake.
The word “okonomiyaki” is derived from the words “okonomi,” meaning “what you like” and “yaki,” which means “cooked or grilled.”
So, as the name suggests, okonomiyaki can be customized to suit your taste preferences. It is a typical Japanese street food and can be found in many food stalls, restaurants, and markets all over Japan.
Okonomiyaki batter is made of flour, egg, and dashi (broth) mixed with shredded cabbage, meat or seafood, and spring onions. There are variations in the batter recipe and fillings as well.
What Does Okonomiyaki Taste Like?
Okonomiyaki has a unique flavor profile, which can be described as umami, tangy, savory, and slightly sweet. The dashi, which is the Japanese stock used in the batter, is one of the key ingredients that impart a distinct umami flavor.
The shredded cabbage is the other component that gives okonomiyaki a crispy texture. The combination of the two forms the base of the dish.
Okonomiyaki has a topping, which can vary by region. It usually consists of a sweet and savory sauce made with soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, and sugar that provides okonomiyaki with a rich flavor. The sauce is applied on top of the batter once the pancake is ready to be flipped. It is then garnished with bonito flakes, seaweed, mayonnaise, and pickled ginger. The toppings add a zing to the flavor, making it all the more appealing.
Traditionally, okonomiyaki is cooked on a flat grill, where it is flipped at least once until it is golden brown on both sides. The texture of okonomiyaki is crispy at the edges and soft in the center, and has a fluffy and pancake-like quality.
How to Enjoy the Taste of Okonomiyaki?
The best way to enjoy the taste of okonomiyaki is to eat it hot and fresh from the grill. In Osaka, the birthplace of okonomiyaki, it is typical to sit at the grill and watch the chef cook the pancake in front of you. Eating it straight off the grill is an experience to savor.
If you can’t make it to Japan, don’t worry, you can still enjoy okonomiyaki. Here are some ways to relish this delicious dish:
- Make it at home – You can make okonomiyaki at home and customize the fillings according to your liking. The batter, toppings, and fillings can be purchased from Asian grocery stores or online. There are different variations of okonomiyaki, such as Hiroshima-style, Tokyo-style, and Kansai-style, to name a few. Each style has its unique ingredients, toppings, and sauces.
- Try it in a restaurant – If you want to savor the authentic flavors of okonomiyaki, try it at a Japanese restaurant that specializes in okonomiyaki. The chef will cook the okonomiyaki in front of you, and you can take in the aroma and watch the pancake sizzle.
- Get it from a food truck – Food trucks and street vendors are good options to try okonomiyaki. You’ll be able to taste some unusual toppings and flavors that you might not find in a restaurant or make at home.
- Visit Japan – Japan is the hub of okonomiyaki. If you’re traveling to Japan, make it a point to try this delicious Japanese pancake. Each region has its variation of okonomiyaki with different sauces, toppings, and fillings. For example, in Hiroshima, the okonomiyaki is made with noodles, whereas in Osaka, the batter mixture of okonomiyaki contains more flour.
Okonomiyaki offers a new flavor experience. It is not only delectable but also ready to be customized to your specific tastes. The combination of the umami flavor of dashi, the tanginess of the sauce, and crispiness of the cabbage creates an unforgettable taste and texture. If you get a chance to try okonomiyaki, you must try it and explore the ways in which it can be enjoyed—whether it’s at home, a restaurant, or during a trip to Japan.
Jenny has always been passionate about cooking, and she uses her platform to share her joy of food with others. Her recipes are easy to follow, and she loves giving tips and tricks to help others create their own unique culinary creations.