Sunday, December 16, 2012

Vegan Okonomiyaki: Vegan Sunday Brunch, Episode 24

Okonomiyaki.  Isn't that a fun word to say?  Something so fun-sounding has to be awesome, it's a rule.

Back in my manga-loving teenage days, okonomiyaki was a common food for the characters to eat, just like rice balls and ramen.  Did any of you ever read Ranma 1/2?  Ukyo had an okonomiyaki shop - she was engaged to Ranma when they were kids, but there was this whole thing where he and his dad ditched her on the side of the road, all the while Ranma thinking she was a boy, so she ended up throwing away her womanhood to be a master okonomiyaki chef.

My realization after typing that is: I need to read Ranma again.

So anyway, okonomiyaki is a fast food pancake-omelet-pizza hybrid.  It has flour (like a pancake), it's eggy (like an omelet), and has toppings (like pizza) - or fillings, depending on how you make it.  Its circular shape suggests pancakes, but it's savory like a pizza.  And depending on regional variations, it's topped with mayo and okonomiyaki sauce (mostly ketchup, but we'll get to that).

As a comic-loving kid, I decided to cook okonomiyaki for all of my friends on my 15th birthday party.  In retrospect it was a terrible idea - the internet wasn't yet hefty with food blogs and recipes, I'd never cooked anything in my life before, and I didn't even know what a yam was (some versions of it call for a specific kind of yam).  It was a disaster, and a couple of my friends who had good kitchen sense tried to salvage my mess.  Of course, I was happily oblivious to everything.

So I haven't made it since, until this morning.  But the desire to create vegan okonomiyaki has been brewing inside of my soul for years.  I know that sounds dramatic, but that's just because it is.  This recipe has been waiting to exist for 11 years.  And thank god it turned out this time!

Vegan Okonomiyaki
Makes 2 large pancakes 


1/2 to 1 12-oz. pack firm silken tofu (less gives a pancake vibe, more gives an eggy vibe)
3/4 cup vegetable broth
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon salt (to taste - depends on how salty the broth is)
1 teaspoon olive oil

2 generous cups shredded green or napa cabbage
3 green onions, thinly sliced


1. In a blender, blend the tofu until smooth.  Use some of the vegetable broth to help it blend if necessary.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, nutritional yeast, turmeric and salt.  Add the tofu mixture, the rest of the vegetable broth and the olive oil and stir until combined (don't over-stir).  Mix in the cabbage and green onions until combined.

2.  Heat a little oil in a large, non-stick pan* over medium-low heat.  Crepe pans work awesome for this.  Scoop half the batter into the pan and spread it out in a pancake shape, until it's about an inch thick.  If you're using a good pan, you shouldn't have any issues at all with it sticking, but flipping is a little tricky because it's so big - the best way is to use a flat plate.  Slide the pancake, cooked side down, onto a plate, then sandwich the plate and pan together so that the uncooked side falls onto the pan.  Cook each side of the pancake for 5-7 minutes, until golden.  Repeat with the second pancake.

Of course, okonomiyaki isn't complete without sauces!  The first sauce is easy because it's just mayo.  I know mayo on a pancake sounds weird, but you just have to try it to believe it - it helps that Vegennaise is infinitely more delicious than regular mayo.  The other sauce is tomato-y, because we all know ketchup and eggs are bff.

Simple Okonomiyaki Sauce

3 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon vegan Worchestershire sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.

This sauce makes enough to serve 2 large pancakes, and you'll want about a tablespoon of mayo per serving.

*Important note: Use a really, really good non-stick pan for this - as much as I love cast iron, it doesn't really do the trick here unless a) you make smaller-sized pancakes, and b) you use a LOT more oil.

Here's the naked okonomiyaki pancake, just waiting for some good toppings.

Yay, good toppings!  The okonomiyaki is now happy.  As is my belly, and my soul.

Now I'm off to go dig up some old Ranma comics, because what's better on a Sunday afternoon than good food and martial arts comedy?  Bet you can't answer that!


  1. Oooh that looks so delicious!! I would never have known about this so thanks for sharing! I'll have to give it a try :) Although I'll have to skip the mayo because it freaks me out (vegan or non-vegan). Anyway, I always look forward to your Sunday brunch posts :)

  2. Then at least try it with an awesome homemade raw cashew mayo? :D

  3. My daughters and I recently had a 5 hour marathon cooking session making all things Korean and we made several different types of savoury "pancakes" that were very similar to this. I don't use a lot of tofu and wonder if using besan (chickpea or spit pea) flour would work in these to bind them? I might give it a go and see. Cheers for this post :)

    1. It's interesting you mention that - the first time I made it when I was experimenting for this post, I used some chickpea flour - not a lot, just a couple tablespoons - and I found that you could really taste it, which wasn't a flavor I was looking for. So that's my disclaimer if you try it! Also it's been way too long since I've made Korean food!

  4. Thanks for posting this, I've been trying to go vegan/veg and I love Okonomiyaki! Used to live in Japan and the real deal is delish, but full of eggs.

    1. Oooh yay, someone who knows what it is! And even more so because you've eaten the right-from-Japan version. :)

  5. OMG!!!! This looks amazing! My co-workers just crowded around my desk to gawk. Seriously. I'm pinning this recipe for a future breakfast!

    1. Awesome, do it up! I ate it for lunch and dinner on Monday too, ha ha - it's really easy low-budget food. :)

  6. Replies
    1. Ditto! When I was eating at work, my coworkers were all, "okono-wha?" Ha ha ha, it was fun.

  7. I love you for sharing this recipe! I always, always wanted to make okonomiyaki, but by the time I had adequate culinary skills, I had become vegan and couldn't find any recipes. Now I can finally satisfy my decade-long craving! My only requirement is that it's gotta have chunks of mochi though. When they get hot and gooey, they're a lot like melted cheese.

    1. Mochi? I had no idea! That's definitely something to try! :)

  8. Okonomiyaki - it's as tasty to eat as it is difficult to spell! I've tried making it with potato yam as the binder, and it's wonderful. Just looking at these pictures is bringing a greedy, hungry tear to my eye...

    1. Yeah! That's like my childhood version I remember. I'm going to have to play around with okonomiyaki!

  9. Saw this on pinterest and had to try it! I Love Okonomiyaki and this recipe turned out so yummy!!!

    1. So glad to hear that! :) And yeah, this is a staple for me now since I usually have cabbage kicking around, so good.

  10. YES!! I learned about okonomiyaki from Ranma 1/2, too! Thank you for making a vegan version!!