What is Okonomiyaki? Kansai and Hiroshima Style Differences

2019-09-16 PLEASURE

This post is also available in 日本語

“Okonomiyaki” is a type of “Teppanyaki”, loved by everybody, from children to adults. You can purchase this at restaurants and “Yatai” stalls, and it is also made and eaten in the home. On this occasion, I would like to introduce you to “Okonomiyaki”.

What is “Okonomiyaki”?

Foods that use flour, such as “Takoyaki” and “Udon” are known collectively as “Konamon”. Okonomiyaki is one of these “Konamon”. This food is baked on a “Teppan” hot plate after mixing or placing the ingredients of your choice, such as meat, seafood, or vegetables in a base which is mixed flour, water and eggs. When you make this at home, you can make this on a hot plate or in the frying pan.

The origin of Okonomiyaki

There are various theories, but it seems to have its roots in “Mojiyaki”, in which sugar was mixed on to a base of flour and water and baked on a “Teppan” hot plate. This was a snack eaten by the children of Edo (Edo: currently Tokyo).  Following this, different ingredients were mixed on the Mojiyaki and this was changed to have a soy sauce flavor, becoming “Monjayaki”.

In the “Taisho” era, “Dondon-yaki” which the ratio of flour used was increased and it was eaten with a sauce, emerged. This became popular in Kansai as well, under the name “Issen-yoshoku”.

At the start of the Showa period, the main ingredient became to cabbage, and the more filling “Okonomiyaki” was born, and then it became eaten as not only just a snack but also a staple food. Okonomiyaki has different the way of cooking, the ingredients, and the name for each region. This difference is  considered to be caused by different food conditions in each region.

How to make “Okonomiyaki” in a way that is unlikely to fail

Currently, the two main types of “Okonomiyaki” are “Kansai-style” and “Hiroshima-style”. With Kansai-style, the ingredients are mixed in and baked with the base, whereas with Hiroshima style, it is baked after the ingredients are put in layers on the base. The basic ingredients for both are flour, eggs, water, and cabbage. In the case of Hiroshima-style, “Yaki-soba” is also prepared. (If you put “Yaki-soba” into Kansai-style “Okonomiyaki”, it is called “Modern-yaki”.)

It is possible to make it in the frying pan, but you are less likely to fail if you make it on a hot plate. Additionally, although originally flour is used, if you use the commercially sold “Okonomiyaki flour”, there are fewer ingredients you need to prepare and it is much simpler. As long as the ingredients have a low water content, you can use virtually anything you like, but we would recommend starting with something like thinly sliced meat, such as pork back ribs. Sauce for “Okonomiyaki”  is sold commercially. It is difficult to turn Hiroshima-style “Okonomiyaki” over, so we would recommend trying Kansai-style “Okonomiyaki” first.

How to make Kansai-style Okonomiyaki

  1. Prepare the ingredients
    Roughly chop the cabbage and finely chop the green onion.
  2. Heat the hot plate to 200°C.
  3. Add “Okonomiyaki flour” to the water and mix well with a whisk. Add cabbage, green onion, “Tenkasu” (Tempura crumbs), and eggs, and lightly mix together.
  4. After mix the ingredients into the base, pour the batter onto the hot plate and spread round with a thickness of approximately 2 cm.
  5. After baking for about 3-4 minutes, spread out the pork on top of the base and immediately turn over.
  6. After flipping it over, put the lid on right away and steam cook for 4-5 minutes in the water from the cabbage.
  7. Remove the lid and turn over again, confirming that the pork is cooked. Once you are sure it is cooked, bake again, as is, for approximately two minutes.
  8. With the side with the pork on it on top, place on to a plate. Apply sauce, and also add “ao-nori” (green seaweed), “Katsuo-bushi” (bonito flakes), and mayonnaise.

How to make Hiroshima style “Okonomiyaki”

  1. Prepare the ingredients
    Shred the cabbage, and finely chop the green onion.
  2. Add “Okonomiyaki flour” to the water and mix well with a whisk.
  3. Pour the base (one cup of ladle) in the center of a hot plate heated to 160°C. Spread the dough on the hot plate thinly, circularly, concentrically and push-outward like when making a crepe, using the bottom of ladle.
  4. Lay katsuobushi, cabbage, Tenkasu (Tempura crumbs), green onion and bean sprouts over the base. Finally, spread out and lay on the pork, and sprinkle a small amount of the base (approximately 10cc) over the whole.
  5. When the outside of the base begins to flow and steam comes out, turn it upside down.
  6. After baking it for 4-5 minutes, move it to the edge of the hot plate and start to cook the “Yakisoba” noodles in the vacated space. After mixing together the sauce with the “Yakisoba” noodles, make them the same size circle as the “Okonomiyaki”.  Place “Okonomiyaki” on the “Yakisoba”.
  7. Crack an egg into the vacated space and make it the same size circle as the “Okonomiyaki”. Place “Okonomiyaki” on the fried egg, before the egg gets too hard.
  8. Once the egg is cooked, flip over “Okonomiyaki” and serve it on a plate. Apply sauce and add aonori, katsuobushi, and mayonnaise.