This feature teaches you the ins and outs of okonomiyaki, a savory Japanese pancake that qualifies as bona fide comfort food.

You could almost consider okonomiyaki a cross between a cutlet and a pancake, one that combines a rich batter with a virtually infinite number of hearty ingredient options — comfort food, pure and simple. Okonomiyaki lends itself well to interpretation, so you can build your own using what you likely already have in your fridge and pantry.

The Basics

To give you an idea of okonomiyaki’s versatility, you need look no further than the root word, okonomi. The word roughly translates as “how you like it.” A pancake-style batter and shredded cabbage serve as the dish’s base. From there, you have a plethora of potential ingredients you can add: pork belly, smoked salmon, scallions, corn and more. The options are only limited to the ingredients you have on hand. And the okonomiyaki technique is just as simple as the dish’s premise.

The Technique

Making okonomiyaki doesn’t differ much from making pancakes: ladle the batter into a hot sauté pan, add the secondary ingredients, and cook until golden on both sides.

Once you make your okonomiyaki, you can add a final flourish of garnishes and sauces. The easiest way is to buy the standard sauce. Or, you can make your own sauce: a super savory combination of Worcestershire sauce (3½ tablespoons), ketchup (4 tablespoons), oyster sauce (2 tablespoons), and a sweetener, such as honey or sugar (1½ tablespoons). For an extra kick of umami, you can add soy sauce to taste. For a creamy sauce that pairs beautifully with the savoriness of okonomiyaki, there’s the classic Japanese kewpie, essentially mayonnaise made with rice vinegar.

Like its ingredients, the garnishes are your call. Pickled ginger, aonori (dried green seaweed), bonito flakes, and scallions are a few ideas to get you started.

The Okonomiyaki Recipe

With the right ingredients, you can cook your own okonomiyaki at home quite easily. In fact, this dish is one of Japanese people’s favorite home party recipes. Find out how to make it here and start planning your next home party!