Okonomiyaki, which literally means “grilled how you like it,” is a popular Japanese savory pancake. It's available all over Japan, and the toppings and fillings vary depending on the country’s region.
These pancakes are a classic comfort food, and with good reason: The combination of grilled carbs mixed with vegetables and an assortment of toppings delivers the perfect symphony of crunchy and creamy textures packed with sweet, spicy, and umami flavors. A basic recipe for okonomiyaki calls for a pancake batter with shredded cabbage and Kewpie mayonnaise, okonomiyaki sauce, nori flakes, pickled ginger, and bonito flakes on top.
But okonomiyaki is infinitely customizable. Below, we take a spin on this classic dish, bypassing the flour pancake base to make it even simpler.
Choose your favorite seasonal vegetables, or use up those leftovers in the fridge, stock your pantry with a few staple Japanese toppings (or try making your own), and you’re set to riff on okonomiyaki anytime.
the base layer
Starchy vegetables work best, especially those that get crispy when cooked. Or make it a medley for a variety of textures!
- Potatoes (even tater tots or hashbrowns!)
- Sweet potatoes
- Brussels sprouts
- Cabbage wedges
- Shishito peppers
Make it a meal with the addition of protein or some leftovers on top of your crispy vegetables.
- Large omelette or fried eggs
- Slabs of cooked bacon
- Leftover grilled meats or tofu
- Leftover soba noodles or rice
- Ramen noodles
Top It Off
- Nori flakes
- Pickled ginger
- Bonito flakes (if using, add last for a dramatic presentation)
- Toasted sesame seeds
- Furikake seasoning
- Sliced scallions
- Chili sauce
assemble how you like it
- In a large serving platter (or several smaller platters for different combination options), spread out the base layer of crispy vegetables.
- Top the vegetables with one or a few of the optional add-ons, if using.
- Use your artistic side and finish your okonomiyaki by drizzling and sprinkling a combination of the toppings into some type of mesmerizing pattern.
The traditional combination of mayonnaise, okonomiyaki sauce, nori, bonito, and pickled ginger is always a winner, but experiment with what you have on hand too!
How do you like to okonomiyaki? Tell us about your combinations below.
Photos by Emily Dryden