Japanese Chicken Pancake, or Tori no Okonomiyaki (鶏の お好み焼き)

Okonomiyaki is one of the most brilliant inventions of the Japanese cuisine. Easy, quick, versatile and full of flavours, it is a dish one falls in love with at first bite and becomes instantly addicted to. I wrote here about my first impressions a couple of months ago and have never got tired of it since then. I must have prepared okonomiyaki for at least thirty different meals. As I said then, I still think that if well advertised this dish has a potential to become as popular and loved as pizza. If only the Japanese cuisine wasn’t associated with sushi, seaweed and miso soup, but with such universally enjoyable dishes as this one… To those who see it for the first time, okonomiyaki might look messy and/or unappetising, but in reality few people are able to resist it (I still have to meet someone who does).

As a reminder, “okonomiyaki” means “grill what you like/want”  and apart from the several obligatory ingredients and toppings (which also depend on the region), this thick pancake can be made with practically anything. There are two main types of okonomiyaki: Hiroshima-style, containing noodles, and a lighter Osaka (Kansai) style. My okonomiyaki are rather Osaka-style (thank you, Hiroyuki). After numerous experiments, I have now two favourite versions: the mushroom okonomiyaki (click here to see the recipe) and chicken okonomiyaki I am presenting today. The latter has also become the most frequent version, because, as a big chicken fan, I always have chicken breasts either in the fridge or in the freezer. A Japanese friend told me she has never seen chicken okonomiyaki in her country, but since I can add whatever I like…

Okonomiyaki’s ingredients can be divided into three groups: the batter, the filling and the topping. The batter’s amount is small and it’s there only to bind the filling, which is often composed mainly of shredded/chopped cabbage. The toppings can be adapted to everyone’s taste, but in my opinion chives (or spring onion), mayonnaise and okonomiyaki sauce are obligatory. My favourite topping is composed of mayonnaise, okonomiyaki sauce, chopped chives and I put lots of my beloved dried bonito flakes. I know some Europeans who love okonomiyaki but hate dried bonito, so it can be omitted of course. Pickled ginger is one of the traditional toppings too, but somehow I prefer it as a side dish. One the other hand I always add chili sauce or paste (most often Taberu Rayu I wrote about here). Thanks to Hiroyuki‘s advice I no longer buy okonomiyaki sauce (which was too sweet for me anyway) and prepare my own sauce mixing ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce. Thank you, Hiroyuki, for this precious recipe!

Visit Hiroyuki’s Blog on Japanese Cooking, Nami’s Just One Cookbook, Robert-Gilles’s Shizuoka Gourmet,  Arudhi’s A Box of Kitchen to learn more about other okonomiyaki versions and Charles’s Five Euro Food to see a very European interpretation. I would like to thank them once more for inspiration.

TIPS: Okonomiyaki batter mixture can be bought in Japanese grocery shops or prepared from the scratch. Personally I am happy to prepare it from the scratch since it takes two minutes and I’m sure it tastes better. I have seen different batter recipes and  mine is composed of an egg, some flour, some dashi (Japanese stock), salt, pepper, baking powder and, last but not least, grated mountain yam (or yamaimo in Japanese), a slimy cousin of the potato (I fin it in organic shops). When I don’t have yam or dashi, I simply omit them, trying to keep the same pancake-like texture. The result is still delicious, albeit slightly different. Dried shrimp is not obligatory either.

Okonomioyaki mixture can be prepared in advance and fried/grilled the following day. As an addict, I often make a double batch and have it two days in a row. (Actually I even had it recently for three meals in a row: a lunch, a dinner and a lunch the following day…).

Special equipment: a big pancake spatula is very useful to flip okonomiyaki

Preparation: 40 minutes

Ingredients (serves 2):

Batter:

5 slightly heaped tablespoons flour

30 ml (about 1 oz) dashi (Japanese stock, home-made or instant) or milk or a mixture of both

1 egg

3 cm/about 1,2 in grated mountain yam (yamaimo) (can be omitted, but then less flour should be added)

salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

(pepper)

Filling:

4 – 5 big white cabbage leaves chopped or finely cubed (the hard central “vein” removed)

1 chicken breast

1 tablespoon oil

8 thin slices of smoked streaky bacon, cut into bite-sized squares

(3 tablespoons dried tiny Japanese shrimp (sakura ebi); I don’t advise other types of shrimp or dried shrimp from other countries: they might be chewy and tough)

Topping:

dried bonito flakes (katsuobushi)

okonomiyaki sauce (or a mixture of ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce)

mayonnaise

chopped chives or spring onions

2 tablespoons oil

(chili paste, oil or sauce, such as Taberu Rayu)

Cut up the chicken breast into small cubes (1 cm x 1 cm). Season with salt and pepper,  fry until golden brown and put aside.

In a big bowl combine the batter ingredients. Add the filling ingredients (except for the bacon!) and adjust their amount (the mixture should be very thick, not liquid and the batter should only bind the ingredients together and not dominate them).

Heat one tablespoon oil in a frying pan or on a smooth grill (called teppanyaki grill or la plancha).

Put half of the okonomiyaki mixture in a more or less round-shaped heap (you can adjust it on the pan).

Put the bacon slices on top, flatten delicately the pancake, but not too much. Otherwise it might fall into pieces when you turn it over. (My okonomiyaki is max. 1,5 cm/about 1/2 inch high)

Cover the pan and let it fry at medium heat for 5 – 10 minutes.

Turn the pancake over, cover once more and fry for another 5 minutes.

Repeat the same with the remaining batter.

Serve the bacon side up, topped with mayonnaise, okonomiyaki sauce, chives, dried bonito flakes and chili sauce/oil or paste.

 

59 thoughts on “Japanese Chicken Pancake, or Tori no Okonomiyaki (鶏の お好み焼き)

  1. Barb @ Profiteroles & Ponytails

    Sissi I think I would need to make this without the mountain yam. Is it true that I would add less flour then? We both have a pancake theme in our posts today but both are very different (one is Japanese and one is Danish). Given how much the girls like pancakes I really should try this!

    1. Sissi Post author

      It’s so funny we have both written about pancakes! I am hopping to your blog to see the Danish one (it sounds very intriguing).
      Grated yam is slimy, viscous and doesn’t really thicken the batter, so I think you should add one tablespoon less flour. Otherwise it will be too thick. In general the batter and filling amounts are approximate because every cabbage, flour, egg are different. The idea is to have a batter which binds the ingredients together. (On the other hand even if the pancake falls into pieces, it is still delicious!). Good luck!

  2. Sonia

    We love this too . Thanks for sharing all the informations, especially the homemade sauce, sound so easy. I cant find the small yam here but without the yam already so yummy.,Going to make this again .

  3. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles

    Ah, what a fantastic creation! This is completely new to me and when I first saw the title “pancake” before the visual, I was expecting a North American style flapjack…but not in the least! This is far more interesting and nutritive and I love that the batter is made principally from yam!! How great is that? What a nutritious and versatile meal that you could serve up and enjoy any time of day… Just got back from a workout and am soooo hungry for this right now!! :).

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you so much, Kelly. Actually, I have never made a thick pancake… I am glad you like the nutritive side! The pancake itself has lots of cabbage, the chicken or mushrooms (like in my previous okonomiyaki) and the batter is scarce. Afterwards everything depends on the topping… It can get a bit heavy if one puts too much mayonnaise for example (I must admit I use low-fat mayonnaise because mayonnaise is here obligatory), but I think the mayonnaise is the only possible “sin” here.

  4. A_Boleyn

    This dish has been posted on several blogs over the last year so I’m gradually accumulating ingredients for it. I have the bonito flakes and when I go back to the oriental grocery store, I’ll pick up the Japanese mayo. 🙂

    1. Sissi Post author

      Good luck! I’m sure your mayonnaise pattern will be beautiful (like the cheesecake one!).

      1. A_Boleyn

        Thank you. There’s a actually a gorgeous cherry cheesecake with a pattern over the top that I’m intrigued by. As to the okonomiyaki, I am still trying to decide whether it’s worth investing in a bottle of the Kewpie brand mayo when I only use Miracle Whip at home.

        1. Sissi Post author

          I don’t know what is Miracle Whip, but if you have a good mayonnaise brand (the taste is very important here), don’t spend as much money. The Japanese mayonnaise is absolutely the best (not only here, at least for me it’s the best mayonnaise in the world), but given the frequency of my okonomiyaki meals, I usually use low-fat mayonnaise, but only a really good tasting one I found in France (sometimes low-fat mayonnaise can be completely tasteless). Here the Japanese mayonnaise is 5x more expensive, but i buy it and sometimes serve half-half with okonomiyaki and sometimes with other dishes.

          1. A_Boleyn

            Miracle Whip is a salad dressing sold in the US and Canada and used as an alternative to mayonnaise. It’s “sweeter than mayo and has additional ingredients” according to this article on wikipedia.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle_Whip

            Japanese mayo is kept refrigerated at the international grocery store I go to and a LOT more expensive. Since I don’t buy mayo at all, I don’t know how quickly I’d go through it so I’ll probably just stick with the Miracle Whip. 🙂

            1. Sissi Post author

              Thank you for the link. I think I would invest at least in a standard mayonnaise (? Hellman’s), on the other hand I never use such sauces, so maybe I’m biased.

              1. A_Boleyn

                Sissi, I finally made a very simple version of okonomiyaki using bacon.

                I had to leave out a few ingredients as I just didn’t have them on hand. Making the okonomiyaki today was more impulse than good planning even though I had been intending to do so for a while. I guess I was just in the mood. And you were right. It was SO easy. I used the Miracle Whip I had instead of mayonnaise and it worked just as well, I think. 🙂

                It was delicious but I know that NEXT time … it will be even better. Thanks to you, Charles and Nami. 🙂

                1. Sissi Post author

                  Hi, A_Boleyn. I’m thrilled! I still remember what a big event was my first okonomiyaki 🙂 I am happy you liked it. I am jumping at once to see your achievement. Thank you for the kind words.

                  1. A_Boleyn

                    I really AM very excited. I had a Tampopo moment and decided I want to make omurice and maybe a yakisoba version of the okonomiyaki as well.

                    Cooking is so much fun. I don’t know why more people don’t do it. 🙂

                    1. Sissi Post author

                      Oh, so you also know Tampopo??? I have also been meaning to prepare omurice too since I saw the film! I totally agree about cooking. I also think that if more people cooked, the food in restaurants would taste better and be of better quality. It always kills me when I see awful restaurants packed and think that the regulars probably never cook and don’t see the food is really bad there.

  5. Hiroyuki

    Store-bought okonomiyaki sauce is sweet for me, too.

    Did you know that the people in Osaka are capable of having okonomiyaki (I mean, Osaka-style okonomiyaki, the kind of okonomiyaki you make, as opposed to Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki) as an okazu (side dish) for rice?
    If you do a google image search for お好み焼き 定食, you will see what I mean. 定食 = Set meal

    1. Sissi Post author

      Hi, Hiroyuki! Thank you for the link. I have just seen the photos! Are people in Osaka fattest in Japan? Just joking! I cannot imagine eating okonomiyaki+rice! And their okonomiyaki doesn’t seem tiny…
      Thank you for the “Osaka-style” mention. I was sure my okonomiyaki was completely freestyle and didn’t deserve any regional comparison. I will update it!

      1. Hiroyuki

        As you may know, traditional Japanese meals are rice-centered, and all Japanese are like Osaka people. So, we usually have gyoza as an okazu for rice (to the surprise of the Chinese people). Besides, we also like carb + bread combinations like spaghetti pan (スパゲティーパン) and yakisoba pan (焼きそばパン) (laugh).

        1. Sissi Post author

          Gyoza with rice sounds incredible, but yakisoba with bread… if it wasn’t you, I wouldn’t believe 😉 I wonder now how do the Japanese manage to be so slim… maybe it’s a question of size of portions?
          Your mention of the Chinese reminds me of my cousin who went to China about 10 years ago (China changes very quickly) and stuck to “genuine” restaurants without tourists where no one spoke English. There were no photos and they ordered dishes at random or making gestures (chicken was easy to mime 😉 ). The most horrible for her, used to European-style Chinese restaurants where every dish is served with rice, was that she had no idea how to say or write “rice” and the waiters never brought it. Moreover, she never saw it on other clients’ tables! (Finally after two or three days she asked the hotel receptionist to write “rice” for her).

    1. Sissi Post author

      Hi, Karen. Mountain yam is something I discovered with my first okonomiyaki. I went to my organic shop and they told me they carry it most of the year. It is really weird: slimy and dangerous to grate (I have already grated some of my finger skin several times because the yam piece slips).

  6. mjskit

    I’m both curious and inspired by this post. I’ve never had Okonomiyaki but I do love just about any type of pancake from any culture. The batter looks easy enough to make and the toppings accessible. How can one go wrong with cabbage and bacon? Thanks for such an informative post!

    1. Sissi Post author

      Hi, Jeno. I also love this side of bonito flakes! I always watch them dance and they always make me smile… This can be made so many times because the fillings can be changed, so one doesn’t get bored. (On the other hand, I wouldn’t get bored even with the same chicken version I think…).

  7. ping

    We have this at our local Japanese grocers where they have a Japanese cooked food section and they have a variety of these among the other sushi, sashimi, donburis, bentos, and I’ve always gone for the all vege version. You’re right, Sissi, I did think it looked “messy” the first time I saw it, but one bite, and I’m sold!
    I do love your version esp with the added bacon … everything’s better with bacon!

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you, Ping. The two or three thin bacon slices are quite innocent but they make a huge difference in taste. You are so lucky to have all these Japanese shops and cheap restaurants… I only have very expensive ones (serving mainly sushi) or sushi fast-food shops. I always wonder why no one sets up a different type of restaurant or fast-food. Without sushi.

  8. Nami | Just One Cookbook

    I’m about to go sleep and now I see your okonomiyaki! Today was so busy that I didn’t even see your update in inbox…and now I visited your blog to see what’s up and it’s DELICIOUS okonomiyaki! If I’ve seen your post before dinner, I know my dinner today would have been okonomiyaki. Seriously, this is like “good” virus (or how do you say nicely in English?). I get itching to eat whenever I see it. I guess my dinner tomorrow then. Seriously!!! 😉

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you so much, Nami. I have really become addicted and actually I have some more okonomiyaki versions to present… I have been playing with it for months and still am not bored. I totally agree: okonomiyaki craving is a very good virus 😉

  9. Hotly Spiced

    This looks like a great recipe and it is something I haven’t tried before. I love the list of ingredients and how quickly the whole dish can be put together. xx

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you, Liz. Actually I sometimes combine both (I have lots of strange variations).

  10. Charles

    Thanks so much for the mention Sissi. This isn’t your first time posting an okonomiyaki if my memory serves, right? Each time they look and sound more delicious than the last! I just recently had okonomiyaki at one of my favourite places in rue St. Anne in Paris, and while I adore the shrimp one they serve I’d be all in favour of trying any different interpretation (after all, you saw my asparagus and chilli-beef version, lol! :D)

    Yours looks really wonderful – I can well imagine why you might eat it 2 or even 3 meals in a row when it looks so perfectly made every time!

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you, Charles for so many compliments! It’s my second okonomiyaki post, but certainly not the last! I have made several different versions in the last months and I’m still amazed at this culinary invention.
      You are lucky with rue St Anne!

      1. Charles

        By the way, congratulations on passing 10,000 iterations of posts! The link to this page is ?p=10001 !!

        That’s pretty cool 😀

        1. Sissi Post author

          Wow! Thank you so much, Charles! I had no idea! I would never notice if it wasn’t for you!
          Now I would like to thank you too for teaching me a new word (iteration). I had to check what it means. It’s more or less the same in French, so thanks to you I have killed two birds with one stone! Thanks a lot!

          1. Charles

            Ah, seems we both learned a new word today – me “printaniere” (with the accent of course which I can’t do because my laptop has no number pad).

            Incidentally, it’s where the word “reiterate” comes from… because you’re iterating (a statement for example), again!

            1. Sissi Post author

              You mean your laptop doesn’t have the numbers line above? (I never use the number pad for accents…)
              Thank you once more for the English lesson!

              1. Charles

                Oh yes, it has the numbers above, but on an English keyboard it doesn’t have letters like “è”. If I’m on a full size keyboard I do all my accented letters using Alt+xxxx, so Alt+0246 for “ö”. This only works with a dedicated number pad though. I can do “é” easily on a laptop by pressing Alt Gr+e, but I don’t think there’s a way to do the grave accent so easily, is there?

                1. Sissi Post author

                  Oh, so you never write using the French keyboard? (I mean the one in the computer, not the physical one). I have been using both azerty and qwerty for years and I can switch easily from one to the other. It’s actually quite easy to remember.

                  1. Charles

                    Haha, the French keyboard drives me nuts. It’s usually not a problem because I touch type and so I just set the input language to to English and it’s fine, even with a French keyboard! It just looks weird… I bought a keyboard and popped out all the keys and rearranged them as QWERTY just to make myself happier 😀

                    1. Sissi Post author

                      I have been using the French keyboard (in the physical sense) for at least 15 years both at work and at home, so I went especially to France to buy French keyboard (here they have a Swiss keyboard! it’s different from the English and from the French!).

                  2. Charles

                    Thankfully in Sweden they have almost the same keyboard layout, with å, ä and ö in the places that ; ‘ and [ would be on the English one!

  11. A_Boleyn

    RE: Tampopo.

    I love that movie and bought a copy many years ago. (I’m a fan of Juzo Itami movies and own most of them though I’m still trying to get a copy of “A Taxing Woman’s Return”.)

    Tampopo was my first exposure to Japanese cooking though I’ve never been tempted to broil the intestines of wild boar that have been eating yams … that’s beyond my wildest culinary ambitions. 🙂

    Eat, Drink, Man, Woman is another favourite (Chinese of course) as I love watching the father cooking for his 3 daughters.

    1. Sissi Post author

      I have been dreaming to see Taxing Woman’s Return too! (And Taxing Woman also). Several films of this director are on my wish list… Eat, Drink, Man, Woman is also on my wish list! I think you would love the series Shinya Shokudo!

      1. A_Boleyn

        I’ve never heard of this series but anything with cooking Japanese food must be fun. I must see if I can find any episodes or if it’s on YouTube. Thank you for the mention.

        1. Sissi Post author

          I hope you can watch it! It’s extraordinary (not only from the food point of view).

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