Negiyaki ねぎ焼き (Okonomiyaki with Green Onions)

oko_negipThose of you who remember my passion for okonomiyaki will not be surprised to see one more version of this amazing savoury pancake. During my experiments I learnt that its versatility has no end. Even white cabbage, the pillar ingredient of okonomiyaki, can be successfully replaced with bok choy and – as I discovered during my last trip to Tokyo – with “negi”, a Japanese cousin of our leek and green onion. Original negi is not available here, but now that green onions are cheap and sold in huge bunches, it is a perfect moment to try to copy this delicious light summer version.

For those who have never heard of okonomiyaki (お好み焼き), it is described either as a Japanese “savoury pancake” or “pizza”. The name means more or less “grill what you like” and resumes very well its versatile character. Okonomiyaki is composed of a batter, traditionally mixed with chopped or sliced white cabbage, and of a very generous choice of toppings, which usually include a special okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise, katsuobushi (dried and shaved bonito), green onions, pickled ginger, ao nori (seaweed “flakes”)… The basic cabbage batter can be enriched with sliced pork, beef, raw calamar or dried shrimp and it is often topped with thinly sliced pork belly, fried when the panckage is flipped. There are two main variations of okonomiyaki: Kansai/Osaka-style (the one I “practice” and describe above), and a very filling Hiroshima style, which contains also cooked noodles. 

I don’t recall the name or the location of the place where I tasted this particular okonomiyaki, but I remember very well that I loved its surprising lightness. Negi, the Japanese plant used instead of the usual cabbage, has different varieties; some are closer to Western green onions; some are closer to the leek. It also depends whether the green or whiteish parts are used. In the okonomiyaki I had in Tokyo only negi’s green parts were used and they were quite thin, so I decided to replace them with green onion’s green parts. I was worried my experiment would yield too harsh flavours because negi is milder than green onions, but luckily I was wrong: the green onion pancake was perfect! The taste was delicate and much lighter in taste than the cabbage or bok choy version. I think I should call it “summer okonomiyaki” because due to the huge amount of green onions, abundant in the summer, and its pleasant lightness, this is an ideal dish for this time of the year.

I have recently discovered that any okonomiyaki batter tastes much better when a crushed garlic clove is added, so this one includes garlic too. If you don’t like garlic, just skip it.

Here are some other okonomiyaki versions I have posted:

Okonomiyaki with Chorizo

with Chorizo

Okonomiyaki with Bok Choy and Chicken

with Bok Choy and Chicken

Okonomiyaki with Chicken

with Chicken

Okonomiyaki with Eringi Mushrooms and Bacon

with Eringi Mushrooms and Bacon

...with Red Cabbage and Garlic

with Red Cabbage and Garlic

TIPS: Okonomiyaki batter mixture in powder 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. My batter recipe is usually composed of an egg, flour, 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 find it in organic shops but it is sold in Asian groceries too) and I sometimes add a splash of milk. Here I have skipped the egg to make the batter even lighter, but if you cannot get the yam, replace it with one small egg. Dashi is not obligatory. When I don’t have yam or dashi, I simply omit them, trying to keep the same pancake-like texture (milk or stock or even water can be used instead of dashi). The result is still delicious, albeit slightly different.

The Japanese often top okonomiyaki with thinly sliced raw pork belly (it is put on top of the pancake and then is grilled when the pancake is flipped). I prefer by far smoked bacon and I have discovered the best product is dried and smoked bacon (though I’m not sure it is easily found everywhere). Smoked bacon goes perfectly with katsuobushi’s smokey aroma.

Pickled ginger is one of the usual ingredients here, but I prefer to serve it aside rather than inside the batter or on top of it.

Okonomiyaki sauce can be bought in every Japanese grocery shop, but I find it too sweet, so thanks to Hiroyuki I have been preparing my own quick okonomiyaki sauce, mixing soy sauce, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce in ratios suiting my preferences.

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

Preparation: about 30 minutes

Ingredients (serves 1):

Batter:

3 slightly heaped tablespoons wheat flour

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

4 tablespoons grated mountain yam (yamaimo)  or 1 small raw egg 

1 garlic clove, grated or crushed

salt

1/4 flat teaspoon baking powder

(pepper)

10 long, thick green onion stalks, chopped (loosely they fill almost 2 US cups, i.e. a bit less than 500 ml volume) 

(1 tablespoon of tiny dried Japanese shrimp; do not use dried Thai shrimp which is too big and too chewy)

Toppings:

3 very thin slices of pork belly (I always use smoked bacon and my favourite, if you can find it, is dried and smoked bacon)

dried bonito flakes (katsuobushi)

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

mayonnaise

chopped chives or spring onions

(ao nori)

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

(pickled ginger)

1 tablespoon oil

In a big bowl combine the batter ingredients. Add the filling ingredients 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).

Cut the belly or the bacon into pieces that will be easy to eat without destroying the whole pancake. (This is not necessary, but I found a long time ago it makes the eating process less messy and easier).

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

Put the okonomiyaki mixture in a more or less round-shaped heap  and flatten it delicately, but not too much (you should be able to turn it over). My okonomiyaki is max. 1,5 cm/about 1/2 inch high.

Cover the okonomiyaki with bacon/belly pieces.

Cover the pan and let it fry at medium heat for 5 – 10 minutes until you see the upper part of batter starting to set. If you use an old-fashioned pan (steel or iron), you might have to turn down the heat to the lowest because it might burn.

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

Serve topped with (I always do it in this order): okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise, dried bonito flakes, chives or spring onion and chili sauce/oil or paste or anything you wish.

 

20 thoughts on “Negiyaki ねぎ焼き (Okonomiyaki with Green Onions)

  1. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles

    Fabulous! Your savory pancakes are my favorite Sissi. They are amongst the first things that come to mind when I think of your lovely blog (and the recipe I believe I requested should we be lucky enough to meet up in Europe one day — haha!!). The okonomiyaki sauce manages to combine 3 of my favorite sauces :). I don’t believe I have ever tasted negi ~ what a lovely summer fresh variation and I’m of the view that everything tastes better with garlic (and generally, lots of it 😉 ).

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you so much, Kelly. I now having a big big smile because when someone asks me to give some examples of which Japanese dishes I cook… I think first of okonomiyaki. You are cordially invited whenever you come to Europe! You will choose the version you prefer 🙂 I’m always glad to learn I’m not the only garlic freak. If I don’t have several heads in stock, I start panicking…

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you, A_Boleyn. Most pickles go well with okonomiyaki… actually I often have it with my home pickled chilli.

  2. Hiroyuki

    Your negi yaki reminds me of the “usu yaki” my father used to make. “Usu yaki” is a specialty of his hometown, Shinshu (aka Nagano). Usu means thin, and usu yaki with negi in it is called negi yaki, while usu yaki with nira (Chinese chive) in it is called nira yaki.
    Here’s a brief description:
    http://www.nagano-cci.or.jp/localdish/recipe/usuyaki.html
    This particular recipe calls for sugar, but my father didn’t add any if I remember correctly.
    I hope I can make my version of negi yaki some day!

    1. Sissi Post author

      Hi Hiroyuki, thank you for the link. This is my next dish to make when I buy a big bunch of spring onions! (Have I told you I have some Japanese thin negi on my balcony now??? Not enough to make negiyaki, but they are delicious).
      Japanese local cuisines are fascinating too.
      I’m looking forward to seeing your version of negi yaki (with real negi!).

  3. mjskit

    You know that you are making it quite hard for me. okonomiyaki is on my list of foods to make in 2014 and now you have presented me with yet another delicious version! Gotta love the pork belly and the shrimp in this one. All of your okonomiyaki looks delicious and I have pinned several of them. Looks like I’m pinning another one! Thanks Sissi! This looks quite delicious!

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thanks a lot, MJ. You should probably start with the most famous, cabbage version. I am sure you will love it (especially since you can make it as hot as you wish with the chilli paste or sauce on top!).

  4. wok with ray

    Oh for sure adding crushed garlic really enhance the flavor of this already delicious dish. That must be a really savory pancake. Lots of beautiful and rainbow of ingredients going on there. Have a great weekend, Sissi. 🙂

  5. Charles

    …which reminds me – after your last okonomiyaki post I vowed to make it for my family here, but never did, so thanks for reminding me again, and for the refreshed inspiration. This looks like another lovely version… you know with your okonomiyaki posts, I think you might soon be able to rival my beetroot posts, but I’m sure I’ll be able to pull away into the lead again if my beetroot seeds grow this summer! 😀

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you so much, Charles. Haha! Yes, it’s true, I fiddle with okonomiyaki a lot, but I couldn’t compare to your beetroot dishes list! It is a versatile dish, but beetroots can yield hundreds or thousands of different dishes.

  6. Katerina

    I love all the variations of okonomiyaki you are presenting Sissi especially that one with the chicken looks very appetizing. Japanese kitchen is an unexplored one and I think I have to put it in my to do projects!

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you so much, Katerina. This is a dish you can prepare without almost no Japanese ingredient, so you should try it. It could become a big hit abroad if more restaurants served it instead of sushi…

  7. Eva Taylor

    Your variations sound and look just as delicious as the original. I love green onion and it’s a staple I always have in the house, whether cooked or just as a garnish, it adds an incredible freshness to any dish, plus I love the colour.

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thanks a lot, Eva. Green onion is also my staple (on my balcony too!) and I think it’s also healthy, so no excuse to avoid it.

  8. Nami | Just One Cookbook

    I can’t tell how much I love this! LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!! Negi and pork belly… so delicious! The sweetness and savory flavors go SO well together. I’m about to sleep, and I’ll be thinking of this… =P

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you so much, Nami, for the compliments (you know how much your approval means to me…). I loved this version in Tokyo, but was so worried it wouldn’t be good with Western green onions… I should have tried making it a long time ago!

  9. nipponnin

    Me too! Love, love, love, heck I will add one more’ love’ okonomiyaki! I think I tried almost all your okonomiyaki recipe. And I will do the same to this one.

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you so much, Nipponnin. I’m so happy to learn you are an okonomiyaki fan too! This is by far the lightest version, so perfect for the summer. I now have even real Japanese negi on my balcony in huge amounts so this weekend I’ll have a REAL negi yaki 🙂

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