Vegan Weekend: Okonomiyaki

By Jane Mountain | February 25, 2012


One of my favorite places to eat when I lived in London was Abeno Too. They specialize in okonomiyaki, a Japanese dish that lands somewhere between a pancake and an omelette, but is definitely not breakfast food.

Thanks to diligent experimentation by my husband and lots of taste-testing by me, our vegan version is awesome and simple enough that we eat it a couple of times a month at least.

For the batter
1 cup flour
2 tbsp potato starch
½ tsp salt

2 flax eggs (instructions below)
1 cup water

2 or 3 spring onions, chopped
2 or 3 cups cabbage, kale, chard or other leafy greens, shredded
2 tbsp sushi ginger, minced (optional)
tempura batter pieces (buy them at a Japanese grocery, optional)

oil (for cooking)

For the toppings
2 cloves garlic
3 or 4 mushrooms, sliced (I like shiitake in this recipe)
8-10 slices tempeh (or tofu)

To dress
Okonomiyaki or Katsu Sauce (steak sauce or brown sauce will work)
2 or 3 sheets of nori

Do It

Mix the batter
In a small bowl whisk together 2 tbsp ground flax with 6 tbsp warm water for the flax eggs. Set aside (if you leave them sit for 15 minutes or so, they work better).

In a large bowl, mix the flour, potato starch, and salt. Make a well and add the flax eggs and water. Mix together.
Add in the veggies and tempura batter. This is going to look like way too much cabbage, but it all works out in the end!

Mix everything together well. The result will be an extremely thick batter with a lot of veggies in it.

Put aside.

Cook the toppings
Heat a little oil in a large frying pan on medium-high heat.
Add the garlic, mushrooms, and tempeh.
Stir fry for a few minutes, but don’t cook completely. These will get more cooking time in the next stage.

Set aside.

Cook the okonomiyaki
Add a little oil to the pan and reduce heat to medium.

Once the oil is hot, pour the batter into the pan. You’ll need to spread it out with a spatula. It should be about an inch thick and will take up the entire base of the pan.

Spread the garlic, mushrooms, and tempeh in a single layer on top and squish them gently down into the uncooked batter.

Cover and let cook. It takes about 10 minutes per side, so be patient. Getting the right heat can be tricky, so check it frequently to make sure it doesn’t burn.

When the edges start looking dry and peeking at the underside of the okonomiyaki reveals a lovely golden brown color, it’s time to flip.

Flipping can be a challenge too. This is much heavier than your average pancake. To do this like a pro, slide two large spatulas under each side of the pancake and lift and turn in one swift motion. Don’t worry if you mess it up a little. It’ll still taste great!

Turn the temperature down a little more. It needs to cook through to the middle, and too high a heat will make your meal crispy on the outside, pasty in the middle.

Lift the edges of the pancake up with a spatula and swirl a little more oil underneath.

Cover again and wait. This is the hardest part, especially if you’re hungry. It always takes longer to cook than you expect. At least 10 more minutes, sometimes more.

Once the okonomiyaki is looking golden brown top and bottom, it’s ready!

Slide the pancake from the pan onto a cutting board. Use a large knife or a pizza slicer to cut it into 6 even wedges.

Roast the nori by holding it over the open flame of your gas stove for 10-20 seconds. You could also do this under the grill if you don’t have a gas stove. Just don’t burn it.

Dress each slice of okonomiyaki with equal parts Katsu Sauce and Vegenaise. You can decorate it in pretty patterns like the ones here.

Crumble nori on top.


Got a few more minutes? You might like these:

Hi, I’m Jane, founder and chief blogger on My Five Acres. I’ve lived in six countries and have camped, biked, trekked, kayaked, and explored in 50! At My Five Acres, our mission is to inspire you to live your most adventurous life and help you to travel more and more mindfully.


  1. Comment by Faye Levy

    Faye Levy Reply February 26, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    I first had okonomiyaki at a restaurant in Hawaii that specialized in it and it was delicious. Your vegan okonomiyaki is very interesting and sounds great. I hope to try it. Do you think it can be made in smaller thinner ones that would cook faster and be easier to flip?

    I checked some other recipes and here I found that grated mountain yam is added and helps bind the batter. I have seen that vegetable often and even tried it but wasn’t that impressed (and it’s expensive) but it’s my fault–I didn’t know how to use it. I’m glad that now I know what it’s for.

    • Comment by JaneM

      JaneM February 27, 2012 at 10:20 am

      Hi Faye,

      You can definitely make these smaller. That’s how they do it at restaurants – but they have a huge space (the ones I’ve been all have table top grilling areas. If I had a big square skillet, I’d probably make them small, but we are limited to what can fit in the frying pan.

      Mountain yam would take the place of the potato starch in this recipe – I think we’ve used it once or twice, but it’s easier for us to use potato starch because then we don’t have to plan ahead. Just reach into the cupboard and there it is.


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