Judging by the number of recipes and comments online about this Japanese snack, okonomiyaki is very popular. It is sometimes called a pancake, and sometimes nick-named “Japanese pizza.” It’s not a snack (at least not a small one), a pancake, nor a pizza. But it’s good.

For folk in the mid-west of the U.S., pancakes conjure images of thin, butter-y, pan-fried egg enriched rounds topped with maple syrup, sweet fruit sauce or jam. Or pannu kakku (Finnish oven pancake) if you lived in the UP.

Pizza brings to mind a platter-sized circle of yeast dough baked with toppings that usually include garlic/oregono seasoned tomato sauce, pepperoni, sausage, and lots of cheese. When I was growing up in the early ’60’s, pizza was made from a box, labeled “Gino’s Appian Way Pizza.” It was a kit which included a crust made by mixing water with an envelope of flour, baking soda, and salt, a sauce of salty (in lieu of spicy) canned tomato puree, and a packet of dried grated “parmesan cheese.” You added browned hamburger and mozzarella cheese. My first taste of the oh-so-exotic pizza was when I was in college and on a date with my first “real”boyfriend. Wow! That rich inviting smell that greeted us as we opened the door to the pizzeria meant LOVE!!!

sato-imo no taroIn Japan there are quite a few regional variations for okonomiyaki, and I unintentionally came up with a new one. The recipe in my book for the batter called for 3 Tbs. of grated yama-imo (mountain yam). That is a name of several species(?) of a Japanese vegetable which is the tuberous root of a climbing vine. Naga-imo, icho-immo, yamato-imo, and jinenjo are other names for it. Grated mountain yam is used as a bindersato-imo-grated really taro in many recipes because it is slippery and gluey. I think that is what you get when you buy soba noodles labeled as yam noodles. It is what you want for this Japanese stuffed pancake.



yama-imo is taroI confused yama-imo with sato-imo. Taro root. Taro is also sort of slippery and sticky root-like vegetable.

A small difference.



Japanese Stuffed Pancake

serves 2

page 350

You can buy sauce for okonomiyaki, but Ms. Shimbo in my book gives a recipe for making it yourself. And it is very good.

okonomiyaki sauce ingredientsSauce:

  • 1/4 cup tomato ketchup
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Worchestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon smooth French mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons mirin
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon shoyu

In a small saucepan, combine these ingredients. Over medium heat, bring the sauce to a boil, then lower heat and cook for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

japanese cake flour Batter:

  • 1 cup Japanese cake flour
  • 1 cup water or dashi
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tablespoons grated yama-imo, or 2 Tablespoons potato starch

Mix the batter in a suitable bowl. Divide into 2 bowls.

okonomiyaki ingredients Filling:

  • 2-3 ounces beef steak, cut into small thin slices
  • 2-3 ounces pork loin, cut into small thin slices
  • 6 peeled and deveined shrimp, cut in half lenthwise
  • An equal amount of shredded cabbage to the meats, 1/8 head? (I used my mandolin to make a finely slicedvegetable.)
  • 1/4 cup thin sliced green onionsokonomiyaki ingredients
  • 2 Tablespoons pickled ginger
  • 2 eggs

Put equal amounts of the ingredients (or your choice) into the bowls with the batter. Make a depression in the stuff and add 1 egg to each bowl. Mix the ingredients of one bowl. (You will cook up the 2nd bowl after you eat the first.)


  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons of vegetable oil

okonomiyaki fryingokonomiyaki frying Heat a skillet over medium heat, add a bit of oil, and spread it around with a paper towel. Pour the contents of one bowl in and shape it into a circle about 7″ across. Cook until the bottom is golden. Use 2 spatulas to turn the pancake and press to flatten. Cook until it’s browned. Use a pastry brush to spread the sauce on the pancake. Sometimes people also add mayonnaise.

Garnish (which I forgot):

  • 2 Tablespoons toasted and crumbled nori
  • 1/4 cup katsouobushi (bonito flakes)

japanese-pancake okonomiyaki
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13 thoughts on “Okonomiyaki

  1. Great post on how to make okonomiyaki. I just made a bunch last week. I’ll have to try the homemade okonomiyaki sauce recipe next time, thanks!

  2. I enjoyed the sauce. Let me know what you think of it?

    This is the first time I tasted Okonomiyaki. And with my mistake about the taro root, I’m not sure it was right. There was a little bit of spongy(?) texture to it. But I liked it and will try the idea again.

  3. You made Okonomiyaki with nishin flour. We are going to Hiroshima this May. Hiroshima is very famous city about “Hiroshimahu Okonomiyaki”. If I eat it, I will comments on my blog.

  4. I found a picture of the flour online. May not be able to find it, though! Will you have oysters and momiji manjū as well?

  5. Your okonomiyaki looks great! I think a spongy texture is right– you don’t want it to be flat and limp. Very funny that you used sato-imo instead of yamaimo, but it probably had a similar effect. Yamaimo is actually purely optional and most people here don’t even bother.

  6. Amy,
    I’ve made a few mistakes looking for Japanese ingredients during this past year.

    At least this one was sort of close—both names end in “imo!” If you look at the enlarged picture of the sato-imo you can see some gooey juice. That cup sat for a while after I took the picture and it developed even more goo. Nothing like the pictures of grated yama-imo I found later, though.

    The okonomiyaki was actually quite good. Mr. Tess really likes cabbage, so there were no leftovers. I’d like to try the version with noodles, but that looks complicated.

    I tried the taro (sato-imo) in “dango jiro” after I made this. As my book instructed, I par-boiled it before adding it to the broth. It was sort of potato-like, but with a different texture. The store where I usually shop always has a huge pile of them; I don’t know why, because I’ve never seen anyone buy them, and the cashier had no idea what those things were.

  7. You should definitely try this with Kewpie mayo. So heavenly and so pretty against the dark okonomiyaki sauce. For me, I skip the yamaimo simply because I’m lazy and hate grating. Aonori is what I use on it (wonderful aroma when you add it to the hot okonomiyaki) and the katsuoboshi is also so very cute with their little flutterings. Mmm…. Now I’m getting hungry for it. This is definitely one of my favorite go-to quick meals.

  8. sherryillk,
    I think the Kewpie mayo would be good, too, but there are only the two of us and Mr. Tess does not care for mayo. I can only find HUGE bottles of it, but perhaps if a small bottle crosses my path I’ll grab it. This dish really is quick and easy to make.

  9. Tess, your blog has officially beome my Japanese cookbook! Your photos look amazing, and I cannot wait to start tackling your recipes once I’m up and about more! It’s nice to comment to you here instead of the support forums where I’m always complaining..LOL

  10. Pingback: As you like it: Okonomiyaki « Tess’s Japanese Kitchen

  11. thank you! found your blog searching for an okonomiyaki recipe to base tonight’s dinner experiment on. I used yours to make “Sweet Potato Okonomiyaki” because I had a bunch of mashed sweet potatoes I wanted to use up and thought they’d be a decent (if slightly weird) sub for the yama-imo. Mine were all veg–no meat–and turned out great. The sauce I followed exactly, and it was DELICIOUS.

    • Hi kristi,

      I am glad to hear that your okonomiyaki worked out so well. After all, okonomiyaki means “as you like it (fried)” so I should post about some of my variations from Hiroko Shimbo’s book. I love to do things “as I like!”

      You are right to make the sauce as Ms. Shimbo says! No question! the recipe is wonderful! Better than any bottled version I have tried.

      And it’s good on other things besides okonomiyake! Better than ketchup…

  12. Pingback: A Favorite: Okonomiyaki! お好み焼き « Tess's Japanese Kitchen

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