We recently discovered that there was a new vegan Japanese restaurant in Portland. It is called Obon Shokudo (at 720 se grand ave). They serve traditional Japanese dishes minus the fish, meat and eggs! It was lovely and it reminded us of Okonomiyaki pancakes as it was on their menu.
“Okonomiyaki”, now that’s a mouthful right there and you haven’t even tasted it! Okonomiyaki is a popular Japanese street food. Savory pancakes made with finely shredded cabbage, green onions mixed with flour and served with a special sweet and salty tomato sauce and drizzled with mayonnaise. It is a nice alternative to shredded potatoes and makes a great lunch or brunch! It also takes less than 30 minutes to make it, so this qualifies as instant gratification!
A little background on Okonomiyaki
The dish is known today in Osaka and Hiroshima but it is said to date back to the Edo period (1683-1868) where it was a special dish served at Buddhist ceremonies called Funoyaki. It first gained popularity after the Great Kantō earthquake of 1923 and after WWII when the supply of rice was disrupted and people learned to use flour to make these delicious pancakes. I love how creative we can be when necessity calls for changes in habits!
Traditional Okonomiyaki pancakes
They usually contain eggs as binder, pork or turkey, cabbage, green onions and dashi (fish broth). So in order to veganize it, we need to replace the eggs with a plant-based binding ingredient (like Just Egg, or flour and ground flax or chia seed gel), replace the animal protein with a vegan alternative like jack fruit meat or soy curls (optional) or skip it all together as it truly doesn’t need anything more.
What kind of cabbage should be used
Napa cabbage is best because the leaves are tender. You can use regular green cabbage, but do make sure to super thinly shred it using a mandoline or a food processor before incorporating it into the batter. You don’t want chunks or it won’t hold together!
Speaking of batter, Just Egg works perfectly to bind everything together. If you don’t have it at home, you can use all-purpose flour or spelt flour for a gluten-free option. Combine the flour with flax or chia gel to add more binding to the batter. In terms of flavoring, you can add some mushroom powder, garlic powder, even wasabi powder if you want some heat!
Okonomiyaki pancakes are usually topped with an oyster sauce and mayonnaise. Skip the oysters and replace with vegetarian Worcestershire sauce, or soy sauce with a little sugar or ketchup. Use vegan mayonnaise. You can sprinkle some sesame seeds. For added visual effect when serving these beauties, use a plastic bottle with a small hole to create delicate crisscross patterns on the pancakes! You may get a few oohs as a result! Who doesn’t like this feedback after laboring over a hot stove?
- Mandoline or sharp knife
- 3 cups finely shaved yellow cabbage
- 1/4 cup Just Egg
- 1.5 cup chopped green onions
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 3 tbsp vegan mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp ketchup
- 1 tbsp soy sauce or vegetarian worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp fresh ground ginger (optional)
- 1/2 cup chopped green onions
- 3 tbsp white and/or black sesame seeds
- 1/2 sheet nori sheets cut in small ribbons
- Combine the ketchup, soy sauce or worcestershire sauce, rice vinegar, and minced ginger, Stir.
- Combine the vegan mayonnaise with the rice vinegar.
Make the pancake
- Finely shave the cabbage with a mandoline, a food processor or a very sharp knife.
- Combine the shaved cabbage (about 3 cups), 1 cup of chopped green onions, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp garlic powder and cup of panko breadcrumbs. Mix well with hands.
- Add the 1/2 cup of Just Egg and mix well. The mixture should be a little
- Pour the mixture in an oiled skillet and gently flatten it with a spatula until the frittata is about 1/2 inch.
- Cook on medium heat for 2-3 minutes, then flip. Cook another minute.
- Sprinkle 1/2 cup of chopped green onions or cilantro, finely cut nori sheet and sesame seeds.
- Drizzle the dark sauce over the pancake, then the liquid vegan mayonnaise making criss cross lines.
- Eat immediately!