Japanese Pancakes


This savory Japanese pancake varies from home to home, or shop to shop, and meal to meal. This is not surprising, since the dish was originally developed to make use of leftovers. Okonomi means “what you like” and yaki means “grilled,” so okonomiyaki is—naturally—“grilled as you like it.” Call them latkes or fritters, these cabbage pancakes— which have proliferated around the United States as the izakaya trend has grown—allow the diner to choose whatever meat or seafood they want incorporated into the batter. At okonomiyaki establishments, the server will usually let you inspect the ingredients you’ve chosen before they are scrambled and poured onto the griddle, often right in front of you.


3 tablespoons ketchup

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

2 cups cake flour or all-purpose flour (see Note)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon baking powder

4 large eggs

4 cups finely shredded cabbage

1 bunch scallions (white and green parts), thinly sliced, plus more for garnish

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil

6 slices thin-cut bacon, halved crosswise

Japanese Kewpie Mayonnaise, for serving

Mix the ketchup, soy sauce, and Worcestershire in a small bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, kosher salt, and baking powder. Beat in 1 cup of cold water and the eggs to make a thick batter. Stir in the cabbage and scallions.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil over medium-high heat. Pour in half of the batter and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, lowering the heat slightly if necessary to prevent burning. Arrange 6 bacon pieces on top of the pancake, pressing them down slightly into the batter. Flip the pancake over and continue to cook for 5 to 6 minutes more, until the bacon is crisp and the pancake is golden brown. Transfer the finished pancake to a plate, and repeat with the remaining oils, batter, and bacon.

On a serving plate, drizzle the ketchup mixture over the pancakes. To complete the dish, add squiggles of the mayonnaise on top and garnish with additional scallions.

Note: Cake our closely resembles finely milled Japanese our, but you can also use all-purpose flour.


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