Hira Yachi (Rolled Okinawan Pancake with Green Onion and Canned Tuna)

hira_yachipThe abundance of chives and green onion on my balcony garden has led me once more to look for new dish ideas. As a result I found one of most original ways to cook canned tuna and made my very first Okinawan dish. This deliciously addictive pancake proved also an excellent occasion to take out the rectangular pan previously used only for Tamagoyaki (Japanese rolled omelette) and practice the tricky rolling process.

Encouraged by the fantastic Udon and Spring Onion Burgers, I decided to continue browsing through Japanese recipe sources. When I read this pancake had Okinawan origins, I was thrilled to learn a Japanese regional dish. I learnt from this website that “Hira Yachi” (ヒラヤーチー) is the Okinawan dialect version of the term “hirayaki”, which means roughly “flatly fried”. In fact, all the other Hira Yachi I saw on internet are fried in one thin layer, so I guess I was lucky to stumble upon this unusual rolled version published on Cookpad by Kirakira. Of course, this pancake can be made flat and then rolled on a plate, but finding a second use for my tamagoyaki pan was such an exciting perspective, I wouldn’t even consider skipping this step!

It’s difficult to describe the flavours of this pancake, but it tasted much better than I imagined. Most of all it is really pleasantly chewy and slightly bouncy, so a pure delight if, like me, you are a fan of such textures. I love dried bonito flakes, but instead of adding it into the batter I sprinkled them on top.  The author suggests Worcestershire-style sauce or okonomiyaki sauce, but I found thick chilli oil (taberu rayu) the ideal pairing. I have also used much less flour, so go to Cookpad to see the original Kirakira’s recipe and the step-by-step photographs (here is the Japanese version in case you are interested; strongly recommended for all the Japanese learners who are also passionate cooks).

TIPS: If you cannot get garlic chives, use normal chives or green onion leaves and grate one small garlic clove (this is what I did).

If you don’t want to roll this pancake, simply fry it flat making several thin pancakes (the amount will of course depend on the pan size).

Preparation: about 15 – 20 minutes

Ingredients (serves two as a snack):

sesame oil (or any cooking oil) to fry

100 g flour

1 egg

pinch of salt

150 ml Japanese dashi stock (I have used this “emergency” shortcut dashi recipe)

80 g (a small can) drained tuna (I buy only white tuna, but any tuna would be ok here)

katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)

several leaves of garlic chives (nira); I have used green onions and small garlic clove instead (see the TIPS)

(chilli oil with sediments, aka taberu rayu)

In a bowl combine the flour, the egg, the stock, the salt, the tuna and the chopped garlic chives.

You should obtain a pancake batter consistency, so adjust the flour or stock amounts accordingly.

Heat some oil in a pan and heat it (the best would be rectangular, but a round pan will do the job too).

Pour a thin layer of the batter and cook it al low heat; when it’s half set, lift the pan from the heat and start rolling the pancake. (I found that rolling in the direction towards me was easier.)

(Either finish here your rolled pancake and continue the same way with the rest of the batter or, like me, roll the second layer.)

Push the roll towards one side of the pan (the the handle side is more practical).

Grease the pan once more, holding the soaked paper towel in chopsticks.

Pour once more the same amount of the batter. Spread it evenly, moving the pan.

Make sure it arrives under the rolled first part of the pancake (lift the roll slightly while spreading the mixture).

When this portion is almost cooked, lift the pan from the heat and roll the pancake, starting with the roll you have previously made. Take the roll out of the pan.

(Do not make a third layer or the pancake will become too thick and soft – I have tested it -, so if you are left with some more batter, make a second rolled pancake.)

Squash slightly the roll with a wide spatula, transfer it onto a chopping board.

Let it cool down slightly and cut into equal pieces.

Serve with katsuobushi, green onions and chilli oil if you like it.



24 Replies to “Hira Yachi (Rolled Okinawan Pancake with Green Onion and Canned Tuna)”

  1. A new application for your gorgeous Japanese pancake Sissi – I love this! Such a clever idea and I truly admire your desire to use what you have on hand from your garden to inspire your dishes. That’s the way to do it – minimize waste and capture freshness at its peak. Our neighbors delivered what almost looked like a tree of basil from their garden yesterday (it was so abundant) and now I am scratching my head trying to imagine how I am going to use it all before it perishes (i’m thinking of freezing much of it in pesto form, etc.). This is such a creative and deliciously rendered recipe – did you know that the Okinawan population is reputed to be the oldest and healthiest on earth? Their diet is a constant source of wonder and observation by health scientists and practitioners.

    1. Hi, Kelly. Thank you so much for the compliments! Yes, Okinawa is very famous all around the world. I think that not only do they eat healthy food, in small amounts, but most of all they have physical activities until they die (either they work professionally or at least they take care of their gardens every day for example; obviously they walk a lot…). From what I have seen most populations which are known for their longevity have one thing in common: they are active all their lives. I have recently seen a tv programme about a village in Sardinia where there is the biggest concentration of very very old people, especially men… Obviously their diet is healthy, but different (including lots of oil and wine), but they are also quite active practically until they die. I think it’s also genetic.
      In previous years I used to grow a bit of every herb I had, but this year I decided to concentrate on those I use most often; both chives and green onions are great in dishes from around the world (I also love them), so I have half of my “garden” filled with those… You have such kind neighbours! Pesto is also the thing I would consider for your basil (have you ever tried making the French “soupe au pistou”, it’s quite light and delicious… I don’t have the recipe, but I’m sure you can find it easily on the web). Maybe you could make a basil-based filling for cannelloni or dumplings? (Have never made it though). Good luck with your basil cooking!

    1. Thank you, Mr. Three-Cookies. One doesn’t stumble upon canned tuna warm recipes so often, so I was thrilled to discover it. It’s a nice emergency meal for those who always have green onion and canned tuna (me!).

  2. Thank you for letting us know yet another Japanese dish I’m not familiar with.
    It sounds like miso-less “usu yaki”, and your crepe-thin rolled version sounds very tasty!

    1. Thank you, Hiroyuki. I was thrilled to discover it. Regional Japanese dishes are not popular abroad.

  3. I actually don’t know this dish and not only that I’ve never heard of it (from TV or anywhere!). How cool to learn a Japanese (I know it’s Okinawan though) dish from you!!!! It looks yummy and I need to visit Okinawa (for the first time) to learn more Okinawan food… I have almost zero knowledge besides very popular dishes that we can eat in the mainland…

    1. Thanks a lot, Nami. I was thrilled to learn about it too because canned tuna is one of my favourite emergency proteins… and you cannot imagine how happy I was to practice rolling on the tamagoyaki pan 🙂 This made me want to visit Okinawa!

  4. Sissi, Thank you for the story. It was interesting! My husband lived in Okinawa for 8 months and loved the culture and he knows some Okinawan..cool, right? Perhaps I should make this for him tonight. Looks great always.

    1. Hi, Nipponnin. Thank you so much. I’m glad you found it interesting. Your husband must also know Okinawan cuisine quite well!

  5. I love this Japanese pancake Sissi, I’ve made them a few times even though I have not purchased the traditional pan, I use a small square cast iron pan and it works perfectly. Mind you, I still need to perfect my technique which is why I haven’t blogged about it yet. One of these days…

    1. Hi, Eva. I am impressed you know this pancake. My Japanese friends and teacher haven’t even heard about it… not to mention the rolled version. Where did you find the recipe? The only rolled one I saw was on Cookpad and only one user posted it.

  6. The pancake reminds me a bit of the goan pancakes here, as you have described it bouncy and different to the western once. I wish I could say that I am growing spring onion! Not that lucky here, they get eaten by creatures and insects over night.

    1. Thanks a lot, Helene. I love bouncy, chewy texture, so this one was a great discovery (and also thanks to the clever use of canned tuna). You should grow green onions from an old wilted onion inside. I do it in winter.

  7. I love these thin little pancakes! I have a whole lot of garlic chives in the garden that are just begging to be picked and these pancakes are just perfect! This would make a light lunch for Bobby and me and Houdi (my cat). Houdi always gets the tuna juice when I open a can of tuna at lunch. 🙂 And I just made a red chile paste that work perfect here. Thanks Sissi! You did it again!!!!

    1. Thank you so much, MJ. You have a perfect situation to make this pancake! I hope you will try it and if you don’t like it at least your cat will be happy 😉

Comments are closed.