February 04, 2011

Okonomiyaki—Japanese vegetable pancakes | Oprah

I was reading this post about Your Vegan Mom's obsession with okonomiyaki, Japanese vegetable pancakes, and her obsession soon became mine. All I could think about were those darn pancakes. I actually had the cookbook they were from, and had even reviewed it on this blog last October, so I fetched it from the cookbook shelf and got to cooking. "Japanese Cooking, Contemporary & Traditional" by Miyoko Nishimoto Schinner is a terrific little cookbook filled with simple but delicious traditional and contemporary Japanese dishes. Everything I've made from it has been wonderful, and the pancakes, from the contemporary everyday favorites section, were no exception.

The batter was thick, white and a little weird, and I wasn't sure what to expect, but the pancakes cooked perfectly on a lightly oiled cast iron skillet. There are five cups of julienned vegetables in the mix, though it's hard to tell that from the photos. I used two cups of Chinese cabbage, one cup of carrots, one cup of broccoli stems and one cup of onion. I used white whole wheat flour for the okonomiyaki, as it has become my all-purpose flour, and I thought it worked very well. The thick and savory pancakes, served with a little tamari and some hot sauce, were absolutely delicious, and I will certainly be making them again soon.

The recipe says it serves six, but I got seven large pancakes, and my husband and I could only comfortably eat one each. It was awfully hard to stop, however, so we split an additional one and put the rest away before we had a chance to eat any more. The pancakes reheated well and were delicious for breakfast the next day. (And the day after.)

Savory vegetable pancakes (okonomiyaki) reprinted with permission
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 pound regular tofu
  • 2-1/2 cups whole wheat pastry or unbleached white flour (I used white whole wheat)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 to 5 cups thinly sliced or slivered vegetables: onions, carrot matchsticks, cabbage, broccoli, green beans, mushrooms, etc.)
Purée the water and tofu in a blender until smooth. Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl, and mix well. Pour in the liquid mixture, and mix lightly. Add the vegetables and mix well to combine.

Cook large pancakes on a lightly oiled skillet or griddle over medium-low heat until browned on both sides. Serve while hot, with soy sauce. (You can also serve plain or with your favorite Japanese-style sauce.)



What we've been cooking

Tofu and kale tostados

One of our old favorite quick meals is tofu and kale burritos, which I first made after eating something similar in a restaurant in Santa Fe. The recipe is here. My husband made tostados recently and when I tasted them I recognized the old recipe right away. It's a very easy to make dish with great flavor, and it worked perfectly on corn tortillas.

My son whipped up a batch of English muffins from Vegan Brunch. He loves these, and has now made them three times.


Thoughts on Oprah's vegan for a week experiment
The vegan blogs are buzzing with criticism of the way Oprah handled her show about what happened when she and 378 members of her staff went vegan for a week. You've probably encountered at least one blog review of her show. I encourage you to watch the program if you haven't seen it. I was going to spout off my opinion, but Natala of Vegan Hope has said everything I was thinking much more eloquently than I could, so I'll just direct you to her post instead. I certainly agree with all the negative points vegan bloggers have been making; I couldn't help but be disturbed while I watched. But the show wasn't directed towards committed vegans. Oprah knows her audience well, she has the power to influence people, and she probably did more than we know to encourage people to think about what's on their plate.


Some of the recipes I've been testing for Urban Vegan
I've been expending a lot of cooking energy on testing recipes for Urban Vegan's newest cookbook. All this testing doesn't leave much time for other food exploits, but I'm not complaining. It's been fun to try so many new recipes.

Spicy tomato lemon dressing

Earthy eggplant

This was so good. We had it as a side dish the first night, then I added sun-dried tomatoes and served the leftovers over brown rice spaghetti.

Mushy peas

Golden millet pilaf

I loved this dish so much but my husband and son didn't like it at all. I couldn't understand why.

Cinnamon-date scones

Island-style tempeh

Island-style tempeh served with rice, roasted veggies and salad


  1. Hi Andrea,
    Thanks for sharing that Japanese pancake recipe. Sounds delicious.
    Have a nice weekend,

  2. Everything looks fabulous! Thanks for sharing the okonomiyaki recipe--I can't wait to try it--as well as your thoughts on the book itself. I have yet to track down a copy of that particular Japanese cookbook, so at least I'll be able to try the pancake recipe in the meantime.

  3. Aimee,
    I keep getting cravings for the pancakes but don't want to eat them every day. :) I hope your weekend is nice, too!

    I hope you enjoy the pancakes as much as we did. (I admit to being a big pancake fan.) I really like the cookbook - the recipes are easy, and they all taste great. Plus, there's room to improvise. You can get the book directly from the publisher, Book Publishing Company, by following the link in the post.

  4. I like that veggie pancake! The Japs know what they are talking about.

    As for Oprah - any attention she calls to the vegan or food industry in general can only be a good thing, IMO.

  5. the scones look particularly good, but maybe that's because I haven't had breakfast yet. same with the english muffins. they look professional.

    I agree that overall the show did get people thinking but it's good us vegans are trying to get in some other facts and points while people are paying attention to the topic.

  6. Those Japanese pancakes sound delish!
    You have been doing a lot of cooking, and it all looks fantastic!
    I watched Oprah and thought it was pretty interesting.
    Hope you have a great weekend!

  7. Mushy peas! When is that cookbook going to be published?

    In my first year of college I had a Japanese roommate who made okonomiyaki often. Of course it had egg in it but I ate eggs back then. Seeing your post reminds me of how much I liked it! I will just have to make your version because it sounds so wonderful!

  8. Everything looks so, so, so good! Especially those English muffins!

  9. Raw girl,
    The Japanese pancakes were great. I love Japanese food for both the wonderful flavors, and the beautiful appearance. My pancakes may not have been the most artful, but they were sure delicious!

    The scones were particularly good, and it's hard for me to look at the picture when I'm hungry!

    It was an impressive feat for Oprah to pull off the "vegan week," and I give her a lot of credit. Maybe next time she'll step it up a little. She's been flirting with diet and health for quite a while and I'm hoping she'll keep moving forward.

    Having five cups of vegetables in the pancakes made me feel like they were a better meal than regular pancakes — and they tasted so good. It's hard not to make them every day. :D

    I thought of you when we were making the peas. They are an Americanized version made with frozen peas. I wish you were here to try them (actually, I wish I were there) so you could tell me how they compare to the canned ones.

    I really wish I could claim to have created the pancakes, but I got the recipe from my cookbook. You should try them and let me know what you think. Except for all the chopping, they were a snap to make.

    My son would be very pleased to see your comment about the muffins!

  10. "and her (pancake)obsession soon became mine" this sounds like me....i pick up habits like nothing else!

    i think you are right about the oprah thing. i read a comment somebody wrote on blog about how there sister asked them for some vegan recipes after viewing the show. so thats good!

  11. Great point about Oprah's segment. I too was upset with the watered down farming segment and emphasis on processed meat substitutes. But. This could have opened a lot of doors, and Meatless Monday is a good thing. Meatless Everyday would be better, but a small step is better than none.

  12. DD,
    As long as they're "good" habits you're OK. :D

    I remember you wrote a post about your Skittles habit (that was you, wasn't it?) and thought you'd want to know that Skittles are no longer made with gelatin. The rest of the crap is still in there, but not the animal goo. http://tinyurl.com/6d6a36s

    Even the watered-down factory scenes had me in tears and leaving the room, so I wonder if people would even have watched more graphic scenes. You're right — baby steps is better than sitting on one's butt.


  13. although i did know that...it STILL gave me a thrill to read your words "skittles are vegan now" LOLOL!! a little over a year ago i WALKED to the store after i found out they were now vegan. (my husband was using the car i drive) i think i went through a bag in less than a week...but now knowing what i know about colors and dyes i just cant get into them anymore. kinda like when we became vegan you know? you know the truth and now you have to do something about it. thank you for thinking of me! i hope more candy becomes vegan. it does help baby vegans transition! i know it helped me!

  14. Those pancakes have me intrigued! I've never eaten a savory pancake before, but they sound like something we'd love. Thanks so much for sharing the recipe. I definitely plan to try them soon, and maybe what's starting out as mere intrigue will also turn into obsession! :-)

    I agree with Bitt's comment that those English muffins your son made look absolutely professional! Funny, I just stumbled upon some English Muffin rings on Amazon about a week ago (I hadn't known that such a thing even existed, what kind of a rube am I?), and since then yours is the second vegan blog to tantalize me with homemade English muffins. It must be a sign!

    Are those the scones you plan to take to your bake sale? Bet they sell like hot cakes! ;-)

  15. DD,
    I kind of thought you'd probably given Skittles the boot, but couldn't remember. Even vegan, most candy has too much junk in it for me, and is too sweet. Plain, bittersweet chocolate is more my speed.

    I've eaten (and made) Chinese scallion pancakes and they are great, but I haven't done much with other savory pancakes. I love these though, and will probably make them again this week.

    My son didn't use a muffin ring, and I've never used one either, but you can also use one to make perfect veggie burgers (saw it on PPK), so it might be cool to have one. I'm trying hard not to acquire any new kitchen gadgets at the moment so you'll have to be the one to try it and let me know what you think.

    Ha ha hot cakes!

  16. As always, you have been eating so much interesting food! Those Japanese pancakes look fabulous, and I was surprised at how simple the recipe is. I love all the tester recipes, too (date scones, please?). ;)

    I have read about the Oprah show and have it still sitting on my PVR without having had a chance to watch it yet (tonight is the night). I agree wtih you, though, even if she wasn't perfect in her approach (I read that they advocated a lot of fake meats), she does have influence and I bet more people than we could imagine are willing to try vegan food now.

  17. Literally everything pictured here looks so great. That pilaf certainly looks like everyone should like it!

  18. Andrea, once again you've inspried me! Everything looks so good and I MUST try those Japanese pancakes! I've never tried Japanese food before, but I have a mandolin, so julienning those veg should be easy! If my fingers survive, I'll let you know how I get on! If they don't I won't be using the lappie much! :o)

  19. I can't wait for UV's book!

    Everything looks so good.

  20. Ricki,
    I always think the same thing when I read your blog! I've been impressed with how simple most of the dishes in the Japanese cookbook are, considering how great they taste. Could you make the pancakes ACD-friendly?

    Opera had 378 people eating vegan for a week — that's a lot of people exposed to a new way of thinking about food. Some of them really liked it and are continuing. Others may have found they can eat less animal food and survive, and the audience is buying The Veganist like hotcakes. It's a start. Maybe she'll dig deeper next time she flirts with dietary issues.

    You know, the pilaf TASTED like everyone should like it, too!

    Do be careful with the mandoline. (I warn from experience.) I cut all my veggies except for the carrots with a Japanese chef knife, and it wasn't so bad — kind of meditative — but maybe I'll try the mandoline next time. Let me know how the pancakes turn out!

    I can't wait for your book. I'd love to be a tester for that!

  21. The pancakes look great, I can't wait to try them. Thanks for the recipe! Looks like you're having a lot of fun testing recipes. :-)

  22. the one of most important philosophy speak in the gut :


  23. Andrea, I would just love to go to your house for a few days, sit on the couch, and have you cook for me! Sounds like fun doesn't it? At least for me! :-) I am impressed with a vegan Japanese cookbook. That alwasy seems to me to be the last frontier for veganism for some reason. Those English muffins look fantastic! Does he slice them in half, and are there nooks and crannies in them? If so, I have to get that recipe!

  24. Chow vegan,
    I hope you if you make the pancakes you enjoy them as much as we did.


    Well, first of all, I'd want you to hang out in the kitchen where we could talk — it would make the cooking more fun. I'm afraid though, that you'd find the food less interesting than you think. Seriously, we eat pretty simply most of the time.

    About the muffins — yes he slices them in half and yes, they have the right muffin texture — nooks and crannies galore!

  25. Andrea,
    What kind of tofu did you use for the pancakes? Extra firm, firm, soft etc. Did you use the water packed kind?

  26. Anon.,
    I used water packed tofu (not the mori Nu kind in the box) or possibly the vacuum packed kind in the plastic package — can't really remember. I think either regular or firm would work.


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