Vegan Okonomiyaki is a savoury Japanese pancake made with yamaimo, rice flour, cabbage and tenkasu, topped with delicious okonomiyaki sauce and Japanese mayonnaise. Learn how to make this popular Japanese street food right in your own kitchen!
Today, I’m finally getting around to sharing one of my favourite Japanese street foods: Okonomiyaki!
What is Okonomiyaki?
Okonomiyaki is a popular street food in Japan, often referred to as “Japanese savoury pancake”. It’s mainly made with a batter using flour, eggs and yamaimo (mountain potato) mixed with cabbage, a protein and other various ingredients.
There are so many different ingredients you could add into okonomiyaki, the options are endless! Especially in recent years, you’ll see ingredients like cheese, mochi, chips and kimchi added to okonomiyaki. The customizability of this dish is reflected in its name: okonomi translates to what you like or how you like it and yaki meaining grilled.
Okonomiyaki is near and dear to my heart and brings back so many nostalgic memories. When we were out and needed a quick meal or snack, we would always turn to Okonomiyaki because of how fast it was to make and we could each order our favourite. Plus, I loved watching the chefs make it right in front of me over a huge teppan (iron griddle). It was incredible how fast their hands moved! I’ve also been to other restuarunts where there is a teppan in the middle of the table and we cook our own and other places where they prepare it in the kitchen and bring it out on a single serve teppan.
Styles of Okonomiyaki
There are two main styles of okonomiyaki that you may run into in Japan: Osaka (Kansai) style and Hiroshima style. I grew up eating the Osaka style because it was much more readily available and it’s much easier to make at home. For the Osaka style, the batter is mixed in with the other ingredients for one large batter whereas Hiroshima style is fried in layers and includes yakisoba noodles. I’ll be covering how to make Osaka style today but stay tuned for the Hiroshima version!
Ingredients for Vegan Okonomiyaki
To make vegan okonomiyaki, there are a couple of essential ingredients that will make it stand out from the rest. I’ve been able to find all these ingredients at my local asian market so I hope you have access to these too! Here’s what you’ll need:
- Yamaimo (Mountain Yam) / Nagaimo (Long Yam): This is what makes the pancakes fluffy and chewy at the same time. This ingredient needs to be grated and it gets very slimy but don’t be alarmed! If you don’t have access to Nagamio I have also tested it using soft/silken tofu and water which works quite well. About 1:1 ratio of tofu and water mashed together.
- Rice Flour: This makes for a pleasant chewy pancake and keeps it gluten free! If you prefer a more traditional-flour texture pancake, use all purpose flour instead.
- Baking powder: Optional, but adds a bit of fluffiness.
- Tenkasu (Tempura scraps): Gives texture and extra fluffiness to the pancakes. You can buy them on amazon or make them at home! Simply just drop tempura batter into hot oil, scoop with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to get rid of excess oil.
- Shiitake Mushrooms: Gives more umami flavour and replaces the pork belly typically used. You could also use soy curls!
- Kombu Dashi: Gives the pancakes a delicious umami flavour.
- Cabbage: Used in all okonomiyaki and gives texture to the pancakes.
- Okonomiyaki Sauce: This is a MUST. I use the Otafuku’s Okonomiyaki sauce which is vegan (and the most popular). However, if you can’t find you can make a DIY version by mixing ketchup, tonkatsu sauce / Japanese Worcester sauce, soy auce and brown sugar.
- Japanese Mayonnaise: I use my own vegan Japanese mayonnaise here. I don’t suggest using western mayo because the flavour is completely different.
- Anori (dried seaweed): Is particularly more fragrant than just slicing up seaweed.
- Beni Shoga (Pickled Ginger): Thinly sliced ginger can also be used but use less than recipe amount.
Other ingredients you can add to okonmiyaki:
Ingredients I love to add:
- mochi cakes (LOVE THIS ONE)
- vegan cheese (with the mochi… so good)
- yakisoba (hiroshima style includes this)
- potato chips (so good)
Other ingredients I’ve seen in Japan:
- bean sprouts
- sliced onions
How to Vegan Okonomiyaki
Making okonomiyaki is easy. The most difficult part may be flipping the pancake because of how large it is. If you’re new to making okonomiyaki, you can make smaller pancakes that are easier to flip!
- Prepare the Yamaimo: peel and grate the yamaimo into a bowl. Be careful because it is very slimy and slippery!
- Make the batter: add the dashi, rice flour and salt and mix. Then add the other ingredient and mix until combined and everything is coated in the batter.
- Cook: Heat a griddle (this is the one I use when making more than 2) or large pan on high. Once you see some sizzling, decrease the temperature to medium and then spoon the batter creating a large thick pancake (about 2 cm in thickness). Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Covering the pancake keeps the pancakes moist and ensures it cooks all the way through. Carefully but quickly flip the pancake using two turners. Then cover and cook for another 5-6 minutes.
- Serve: Place on a serving plate and generously drizzle with okonomiyaki sauce and mayonnaise. Then garnish with green onions, aonori and more beni shoga.
Chewy yet fluffy, thick and vegetable packed. So much flavour and deliciousness in one pancake!
I really hope you try and love this Vegan Okonomiyaki recipe as much as we do. And if you ever have the chance, defiantly check out okonomiyaki spots in Japan for the experience and because it’s so much fun! My go-to spot for vegan okonomiyaki is Zen in Tokyo. 🙂
More Vegan Japanese Recipes to Try:
- Fluffy Japanese Pancakes
- Japanese Curry Fried Rice
- Chilled Tanuki Udon (Cold Udon Noodle Soup)
- Takikomi Gohan (Japanese Mixed Rice)
- Vegan Gyoza
- Hiyashi Chuka
SAVE IT FOR LATER! ↓
If you recreate this Vegan Osaka Okonomiyaki recipe let me know how you liked it by leaving a comment and rating below or by tagging me on Instagram @Okonomikitchen, I love seeing all of your tasty recreations!
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