Grad Student Eating in Style: Okonomiyaki

Sep 18 2010 Published by under Grad Student Eating in Style!

Firstly, I'd like everyone to note that there is now a specific category for Grad Student Eating in Style! Hopefully I will get a few more recipes in there soon.

Every time I tell someone I'm making Okonomiyaki, they ALWAYS look at me with an eyebrow up and say "what's THAT"?

Except for MicroDoc, who taught me the recipe. She says "mmm, I am coming over for dinner then?"

Okonomiyaki is a savory pancake from Japan. It's super easy to make (at least, by my recipe, which isn't what everyone else does), really tasty, filling, and a fun thing to make together with friends.

You will need:
2 eggs
2 cups flour (I use whole grain, but most people use regular)
1 cup of water
Shredded cabbage
Shredded imitation crab meat (optional)
Tonkatsu Sauce (I'll cover this in a minute)
Mayonnaise (optional)
Pan spray
Fish flakes (optional)

Take the two eggs and the flour and the water. Beat them together until you've got a nice smooth batter. Mix in your shredded cabbage, a good few handfuls (this one is really something you throw together, I really like more cabbage, but opinions vary). Spray down a small nonstick frying pan, and put a small glop of your dough in there (I like my stove med to med-high). Flatten out your glop with a spatula (use a plastic one if you have one, the metal ones get REALLY goopy). Add your crap meat on top. Make like a pancake, flipping over until it's all done and nice and brown.

Serve with Tonkatsu sauce and mayonnaise.

NOTE: DO NOT let your pancake get too thick! You'll have the worst time getting it to cook all the way through.

Final result will look like this:

Now: Tonkatsu sauce. This is a veggie and fruit based sauce that is kind of thick, and completely delicious.

Price Breakdown for the Hungry Grad Student:
(someone pointed out to me by email that prices are highly relative, and the dude is probably right. That said, I can still do something approximate, to give you an idea as to how much this makes for a rough price.)
Eggs: $2.00
Flour: $2.99 for a large amount
Cabbage (pre-shredded): $2.69 or so for a bag of the stuff. You get enough to make two full batches of this easy.
Fake crab meat: $1.74
Tonkatsu sauce: $4.69, but you'll use it forever
Mayonnaise: $2.99 for a bunch of it (I always skip the mayo)
Pan spray: $3.99 (you'll use it forever)

Total: $21.09, less if you skip the mayo. The recipe serves 4 pancakes, but if you buy everything fresh you will have enough for two recipes worth, so that's $21.09 for 8 cakes. Not so bad!

8 responses so far

  • Janne says:

    My favourite okonomiyaki is to mix in slices of bacon, chopped chives, bits of cooked octopus and precooked ramen noodles (instead of crab meat). You can cook a very thick okonomiyaki if you just keep the heat low. Don't skip the fish flakes (I assume you mean katsuobushi); that and the tonkatsu sauce really makes the dish.

    A tip for tonkatsu sauce: you can get fairly close to the real thing simply by mixing equal amounts of tomato ketchup and worchester sauce, and adding a bit of soy sauce to taste

  • If you put the fish flakes on while the okonomiyaki is still hot, they'll writhe about in the steam. Okonomiyaki is the only wiggly food that I eat.

  • Looks awesome but might I suggest changing "Add your crap meat" to "Add your crab meat"? Slightly more palatable...

  • Okonomiyaki is delicious! You can subsitute real crab meat for imitation, or use little pieces of squid or octopus.

  • Tracey S. says:

    Ooooh, I have to try this! I'm glad you're doing this series because after Brian and I quit our jobs and move to Utah we're going to need some seriously cheap eats! What kind of fish flakes do you use? Do you use them like a condiment or as part of the pancake?

  • neurowoman says:

    mm,mm, love okonomiyaki! The recipe I have is from my in-laws, who grew up with it in post-war Japan. It includes scallions, shrimp (slice lengthwise to make them thinner), and kezui-bushi, which are the miniature dried fish, which make it yuuuuum-my. Plus Bulldog sauce. There is such a thing as okonomiyaki mix, but its hard to find if you don't have a Mitsuwa in your neighborhood...flour will do fine too. My recommendation is to shred the cabbage as finely as possible, makes for a more even pancake. I always kinda thought the name came from 'economy', as in an economic (cheap) thing to eat...

  • mark says:

    This looks absolutely delicious!

    In terms of budget: the pre-shredded cabbage is actually incredibly expensive compared to just buying a head of cabbage and shredding it. For around $2, you get get a head of cabbage, which is equivalent to three or four bags of the pre-shredded stuff. Cabbage is *really* easy to shred - just cut the head into quarters; cut out the solid core, and then slice. Then you can control how thick the shred is, and it's even cheaper than the bagged stuff!

  • k says:

    Okonomiyaki literally means grilled to your liking (okonomi refers to the pancake's ingredients, yaki means to grill). Anyway, you really need some ao nori (ground dried seaweed) to sprinkle on top. Don't skip the katsuo-bushi, either - a little goes
    a long way. One recipe I have adds some chopped pickled slivered ginger to the batter. That is really tasty.

    Otafuku or Bulldog tonkatsu sauce are both very tasty and can be found fairly easily, even in places without Japanese markets like Mitsuwa.

    I'd go with flour over okonomiyaki mix - there might be some things you prefer not to eat (various glutamates - which provide "umami"... Ajinomoto Corp.'s principal consumer product gives me hives) and it's quite expensive.
    Janne's suggestion of adding ramen is reminiscent of "modan-yaki" (sp?) - more Hiroshima- style. I'm a Kansai gal, so I can't say I've had it.

    I'm with Comrade PhysioProf - I'd especially like octopus okonomiyaki. - it would be very much like a large, flat takoyaki with cabbage...much less effort to cook, too.

    Itadakimasu, minna-san!

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