An affordable, highly customizable street food from Japan, okonomiyaki are, essentially, cabbage pancakes dolled up with just about any topping you’d like. In fact, the word okonomiyaki translates to, roughly, “what you like, cooked.” These hearty pancakes have started to experience a surge in popularity in Atlanta, at least in the trend-focused dining set, thanks to the pop-up Ok Yaki, which makes regular appearances at Sun in My Belly, Ria’s Bluebird and local breweries.
But you don’t have to track down the roving chefs to try your first okonomiyaki — they’re easy and quick to make at home. The following recipe, which is very loosely adapted from “Japanese Soul Cooking,” a highly recommended 2013 cookbook for anyone with a penchant for Japanese fare, combines convenient pre-chopped coleslaw mix with flour, eggs and water to make a simple batter. This all gets scooped out into generous pancakes and fried in toasted sesame oil until golden brown and just tender in the center. That is, essentially, it, but you cannot have okonomiyaki without toppings. Lots of toppings.
The okonomiyaki you’ll find at Ok Yaki, and in the recipe below, are served in the Osaka style, with mayonnaise and a sweet, barbecue-like sauce drizzled on top, plus powdered seaweed and shaved bonito (dried tuna) flakes. But to keep this recipe within the realm of the 5:30 Challenge, you’ll need to stick to two total toppings, so choose what you’d like. Consider the other two to be bonus ingredients.
Feel free to mix and match toppings here as you see fit. To keep this dish true to the 5:30 Challenge, choose just two toppings. If you can find Kewpie mayonnaise, you should use it; however, Duke’s mayonnaise is also an acceptable choice. Bonito flakes are made from tuna fish; to keep this dish vegetarian, choose a different topping. Look for the toppings at Asian markets. If you don’t have a griddle, use two large nonstick or well-seasoned cast-iron pans to cook two pancakes at once.
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