Seafood Okonomiyaki
Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki:****

Edo-eraWhen Japan was ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family(1603 to 1868).
The earliest form of Japanese Pancake dates back to the 16th century. A pancake called “Funo-yaki” was created by Sennorikyuu, the founder of the Japanese tea ceremony. He mixed flour with water and sake and char-grilled the flattened dough. Sweet miso was then spread on this savory pancake before being rolled and cut into a bite-size portion. At the height of the pancake’s popularity, there were even Funo-yaki specialty shops. However, the pancake tradition completely disappeared towards the end of Edo-period (1603 – 1868).
from Japanese Pancake WorldIn the Edo Period, little flatcakes made of flour and water and called senbin were brought over from China by wealthy travelers, most likely as omiyage gifts. These gained popularity, and a Japanese version soon appeared. Called funo-yaki, these little cakes were made of wheat gluten (fu) or flour mixed with water or sake and served with a sansho, or black pepper-flavored, miso topping.
from Japan Times Online

The Meiji period (“enlightened rule”—the first half of the Empire of Japan, September 1868 through July 1912)
Monji-yaki: A very watery batter of flour and water was spread thinly on a grill and sakura shrimp, squid, agedama (fried drops of batter) and red pickled ginger were added while it was cooking. …it targeted children and took root in working class neighbourhoods. Its name came from the practice of writing characters in the batter with a spatula. This was done to teach children characters while making the monji-yaki.
from Japanese Pancake WorldMonja-yaki can still be found in most parts of Japan, although no longer as a dessert. The savory monja-yaki — a thin cake made with a loose batter of flour and dashi and filled with vegetables and meats — is thought of as the downtown Tokyo shitamachi grandfather to the modern okonomi-yaki.
from Japan Times Online

Taisho-era (1912 – 1926), a wave of Westernisation
Dondon-yaki: The batter was spread out to a 15 cm circle and bonito powder, kombu kelp flakes and scallions were put on top, over which more batter was poured. It was cooked on both sides, spread with sauce, folded in half, put on a thin piece of wood, wrapped in old newspaper and taken away to eat. Its name came from the practice of beating a drum outside the shop to attract children (the sound a drum makes is “don don”).
from Japanese Pancake WorldBecause the pancake was foreign to rural folks, they called these treats issen-yoshoku — literally “one-penny Western meal.”
from Japan Times Online

Post World War II
****Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki:
Kitchen appliances had been long confiscated by the government for manufacturing weapons. Hiroshima citizens picked up metallic sheets from the ruins and baked these wafer-thin pancakes to survive. In an effort to ease their hunger, people stuffed their pancakes with as much chopped cabbage as their make-shift-back-yard-farm permitted.
from Japanese Pancake World
OKONOMI-YAKI in a wide sense can be divided into MAZE-YAKI and BETA-YAKI. Today, when you order a sheet of OKONOMI-YAKI, you are most likely served with MAZE-YAKI. MAZE means to mix. We mix flour, water, shredded cabbage, and others before we bake MAZE-YAKI, or OKONOMI-YAKI in a narrow sense. BETA means being flat. We mix only flour and water, and bake a crepe-like sheet, which will be topped with shredded cabbage and others.
At the corner, a shopkeeper cooked KASHIMINs. She first baked crepe-like things, and then put shredded cabbage and chicken mincemeat on them. So, KASHIMIN is one kind of YOHOKU-YAKI, not OKONOMI-YAKI. Its name KASHIMIN comes from KASHIWA (chicken) and MINTI (mincemeat), but chicken meat is rather chopped than minced.


10 thoughts on “Seafood Okonomiyaki

  1. I’m so glad you posted the recipe for the sauce! I always see recipes that just list “Okonomiyaki sauce” as one of the ingredients. >:(

    • yes, I would think so.
      Maybe give the mixture a few minutes to absorb the liquid: the Japanese cake flour is very fine so it might take a bit longer for the liquid to become incorporated/absorbed into regular flour.

      ??? I don’t really know that it would, or not, make a lot of difference. Letting it sit a few minutes couldn’t hurt though.

  2. OOh such wonderful comfort food. Yours look mouth watering – in fact my mouth is watering. That sauce is addictive Tess! Did you serve some of your pickles with it?
    We found a tiny restaurant in Kyoto a few years back which specialised in okonomiyaki and went there three nights in a row. Last Easter we were back in Japan and wandered the tiny streets around a temple looking for it – it had been reincarnated as something else alas….
    Heartbreaking watching the news from Japan today!

  3. Yes, that sauce is addictive!

    I’m making Joan Nathan’s Mother’s Brisket which has a similar tangy/spicy marinade/sauce. It’s just beginning to smell amazing.

    2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
    1 tablespoon pepper
    3 tablespoons brown sugar
    1 cup chili sauce: 1 cup ketchup, 1 TBS sugar, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp cayene, 1 dash allspice
    1 1/2 cups white vinegar

    The earthquake and tsunami in Japan is horrific. How fragile life is.

  4. Hi Dave!
    Glad you took a look here after the beginning of the discussion on Panos’ blog. As you can see, if you try categories here the excerpts work nicely.
    So how did you come to be in Osaka in 1986? and eating okonomiyaki?

  5. Mr. Tess was looking at the kitchen calendar with pictures of Japanese prints and poems. He noted that the image was quite suggestive yet still beautifully modest. I commented that many ukiyo-e prints depict male actors playing feminine parts. Upon closer inspection, the image is The Geisha Ichimaru, 1933 woodcut on paper by Kiyoshi.
    I recalled reading about geisha in the 1930’s preparing dondon-yaki for their guests as entertainment. (these pancakes were a precursor to the modern okonomiyaki)
    Seductive food.
    Innocent fun.

    In about 1932, the sixth year of the Showa era, dondon-yaki became very popular in Tokyo’s Geisha entertainment world. Dondon-yaki at that time was made on a 30 cm griddle placed over a charcoal fire. With the addition of more and more ingredients and seasonings, the present okonomi-yaki took shape.


  6. Pingback: Japanese Crepes « Tess's Japanese Kitchen

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