Video: How to make okonomiyaki

Yoko Yamada, from Japan, shows how to make okonomiyaki, Japanese vegetable pancakes.

Yoko Yamada
Yoko Yamada
Yoko Yamada came to New Zealand 14 years ago with her former husband, a New Zealander she'd met while they'd been working in Ireland. She has lived in Dunedin for six years, where she works as a veterinary nurse and has a 4-year old son.

Okonomiyaki is a typical Japanese dish, a vegetable pancake in which you can use anything you like, but cabbage is usually the main ingredient, she said.

It can be vegetarian, or include seafood such as shrimps or squid, or pieces of bacon and sometimes cheese. It's topped with mayonnaise and okonomiyaki sauce which you can buy in specialist shops, but she often uses barbecue sauce which is similar.

Okonomiyaki originally comes from the Kansai region south of Tokyo, but everyone has their own version and preferences. Sometimes it's topped with bonito flakes or pickled ginger, but she says she likes to use what is readily available here.


Yoko's okonomiyaki. Photos by Christine O'Connor.
Yoko's okonomiyaki. Photos by Christine O'Connor.
Yoko's okonomiyaki
Serves 3-4


¼ large cabbage chopped
1 small leek, finely sliced
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
½ cup cooked shrimp
2 rashers bacon, chopped
4 eggs
1½ -2 cups self-raising flour
1 tsp mild curry powder (optional)
½ tsp cumin (optional)
grated cheese (optional)
filtered water to mix

To serve

barbecue sauce and mayonnaise



Put the chopped vegetables in a large bowl and add the shrimp and bacon. Break in the eggs, add the spices if using, and the flour. Mix well. Add enough water to make a fritter-like consistency, adding more water or flour if needed.

Heat oil in a pan and put in large spoonfuls of the mix, flattening a little. Turn the heat to medium-low, cover with a lid and leave to cook for 10-15 minutes, turning over once.

The pancakes should be cooked through and golden brown on both sides. Put on a plate and drizzle lines of barbecue sauce and mayonnaise over the pancake.




• Amounts are variable and you can use whatever vegetables you like, including leftovers. Japanese people like to use what is in season because it tastes best and is cheapest. Spring cabbage is particularly sweet, she says.

• She likes to add a mild cheese such as edam for a creamy texture.

• Sometimes okonomiyaki are topped with bonito flakes or pickled ginger.

• In the south they serve okonomiyaki on a bed of noodles.

• Some people shape the mixture into small balls, cook it in a special pan and serve it with octopus pieces. Everyone has their favourites, she says.

• In Japan you can buy a proprietary okonomiyaki mix of flour with raising agent and flavouring.

Thanks to Afife Harris and Centre City New World.



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