26 September 2023

Okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake)

Start the conversation

By Christine Salins.


Tokyo-raised Maori Murota has been living in France for the last two decades but it was only during the Covid-19 lockdowns that she began playing around with making her own udon noodles, gyoza dough and fermented tsukemono pickles.

“I was pleasantly surprised – it was delicious and not as complicated as I had thought it might be,” she writes in the introduction to Japanese Home Cooking (Murdoch Books, $49.99).

This is her second book – she wrote the international best-seller Tokyo Cult Recipes – but this one has a more home-spun feel to it as it is about everyday cooking.

These are the dishes she grew up with, the recipes she learned while watching her own mother and grandmother cook, dishes such as donburi, baked sweet potato, soba salad, roast chicken with lemongrass, onigiri, Japanese curry and steamed nut cake.

There are fusion dishes too – partly because her book comes here by way of France, but also because she says people at home in Japan often add foreign ingredients to their dishes. Her Spaghetti with Eggplant, Capsicum and Miso Paste Sauce is a dish she loved as a child. A fusion of olive oil and Japanese ingredients like red miso paste, mirin and soy sauce, it reflects a boom in Italian cuisine in Japan that started at the end of the 1980s.

The author is vegan so not surprisingly there are a lot of plant-based recipes, although she does cook meat and fish for her family, so there’s a little bit of something for everyone in the book.

Her mission is to demystify Japanese food, to make it accessible and understood by everyone. Step-by-step recipes for traditional classics like ramen noodles, broth, sushi rice and homemade tofu, help with this.

Have fun experimenting by adding ingredients of your choice to this okonomiyaki recipe. In Japanese, ‘okonomi’ means ‘as you like’ and ‘yaki’ means ‘grilled’. Restaurants offer a wide choice of toppings. Feel free to invent your own version of this recipe.

Okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake)

Serves 4

200 g pointed cabbage (or white cabbage)

2 spring onions

100 g peeled prawns

100 g yam or potato

16 oysters

200 ml water

2 eggs

200 g plain flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 handful katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)

4 tablespoons sunflower oil


Okonomiyaki sauce (or tonkatsu sauce)*

Mayonnaise or soy mayonnaise

4 generous pinches katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)

A few dill leaves (optional)

Cut the cabbage into thin strips, spring onions into thin rounds and prawns in half lengthways. Grate the yam. Open the oysters and remove them from their shells.

In a bowl, mix the grated yam or potato, water and eggs. Add the flour and salt and mix. Stir in the cabbage, spring onion and katsuobushi (crumbled between your fingers). Add the prawns and oysters, then mix.

Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Pour in 1 tablespoon oil and wipe the excess with a paper towel. Pour a quarter of the batter into the hot pan. Cook for about 3 minutes.

Turn the okonomiyaki over, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Flip the okonomiyaki back and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, uncovered. Repeat the process until all the batter is used. This will make four okonomiyaki.

Serve the okonomiyaki on individual plates with a generous amount of sauce spread on top. Add the mayonnaise. Sprinkle with some katsuobushi and decorate with a few dill leaves.

* To replace the tonkatsu sauce:

In a small saucepan, mix 4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 2 tablespoons ketchup, 1 tablespoon mirin and ½ teaspoon soy sauce. Heat over low heat, stirring until the sauce thickens.

Vegan version:

Replace the seafood with 150 g (5½ oz) mushrooms (oyster, shiitaki, etc) sauteed in 1 tablespoon oil and seasoned with ½ teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon malted or nutritional yeast. Add an additional 100 g (3½ oz) yam.

Recipe and image from Japanese Home Cooking by Maori Murota, photography by Akiko Ida. Murdoch Books, rrp $49.99.

Start the conversation

Be among the first to get all the Public Sector and Defence news and views that matter.

Subscribe now and receive the latest news, delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.