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Lunch Break: Okonomiyaki

The Gateway Presents: The ultimate recipe series for students!

In our new ongoing series, Lunch Break, our food writers reveal their secret recipes for surviving university.


What: Okonomiyaki

Prep Time: approx. 15 mins

Cook Time: approx. 10 mins

Feeds: One hungry person or two slightly hungry people

Level: E A S Y


It’s 7:00 p.m. on a Thursday night and you just got home from a three-hour lab. You’re tired, annoyed, and most importantly: hungry. You open your fridge and there’s nothing (except for cabbage, eggs, green onions, Japanese mayo, flour, baking powder, other random ingredients, and conveniently, okonomi sauce). What do you do? Scrambled eggs? Domino’s? Order off Skip The Dishes? Wrong, wrong, and wrong. Instead, you realize you have all the ingredients to make some delicious okonomiyaki!  

For starters, what is okonomiyaki? Well, it’s a savory pancake-like dish that’s commonly found in restaurants or food stalls in Japan. The name of the dish is derived from the words okonomi (お好み), which means “how/what you like” and yaki (焼き), which simply means grilled or cooked.

Okonomiyaki is fairly healthy and easy to whip up. My recipe (modified from some okonomi sauce packaging) has been approved by one chef, four family members, and six friends, so don’t worry, it’s pretty legit.


Shopping List (100 per cent of these items can be found at a T&T Supermarket):

  • Cabbage
  • Flour
  • Baking powder
  • Eggs
  • Water
  • Japanese mayo
  • Okonomi sauce (okonomiyaki isn’t okonomiyaki without okonomi sauce. If you can’t find it, DIY versions are available online!)
  • Instant dashi stock powder (dried kelp and fish powder)

Optional:

  • Green onions
  • Bonito flakes (dried fish flakes)
  • Pork belly (use thin slices so it will cook faster)
  • Yakisoba noodles (pre-cook these ahead of time before adding)
  • Anything else you want to throw in

The beauty of making okonomiyaki is that it’s almost impossible to mess up. You can literally put in A N Y T H I N G and it’ll still taste pretty okay.


Directions:

  1. Measure one cup of flour and add half a tablespoon of dashi stock powder and a teaspoon of baking powder into a bowl. Mix.
  2. Throw in a cup of water and 1-2 eggs, depending on how much protein you’re feeling that day. Mix thoroughly. Use a whisk if you feel like washing more dishes.
  3. Cut 3-4 cups of cabbage into thin strips and add it into the batter (accuracy isn’t too important in this step). Add any optional thinly cut vegetables in this step as well. Mix.
  4. Heat skillet on medium. Add cooking oil; one tablespoon will probably do the trick. You don’t want your okonomiyaki sticking to your pan.
  5. When the pan is hot, put in around a cup of batter and flatten it into a shape of your choice (add the pork belly or noodles on the bottom first if desired). Thickness at 2-3 cm should be okay.
  6. Cover with a lid. Flip and cook both sides until they are golden-brown. It should take around five minutes on each side, but it will also depend on the thickness of your okonomiyaki. Just make sure it doesn’t burn.
  7. Once cooked, slather on some okonomi sauce (this is the good stuff) and Japanese mayo.
  8. Optional step: Garnish with green onions and bonito flakes.
  9. Done. Easy as 1-2-3!

Refrigerate any leftover batter and save it for tomorrow for a quick breakfast! Although this recipe does require a trip to your local Asian grocery store to pick up some specialty ingredients, it’s hard to deny how easy it is to make this dish. I definitely encourage everyone try this recipe!

Pauline Chan

Pauline Chan is a third-year Food Science Honours student as well as The Gateway’s unofficial food columnist. She likes food so much she’s studying it. In her spare time you can find her complaining about the long lineups at Tim’s.

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