Three months ago, my husband met up with his junior in the university who now lives in the same district as ours. We drove for about ten minutes to his place and went to an okonomiyaki shop a block away from his apartment.
I really wasn't into Japanese food before I came to Japan, and it was my first time to see okonomiyaki. Okonomiyaki is a mix of vegetables (and meat/seafood) that is stir fried and flavored like savory pancakes. Some people call it Japanese pizza.
My Japanese was still so very poor then and I didn't understand and remember much how or what they ordered, but the waitress just brought bowls filled with different vegetables and meat, and a white batter. It was not vegetarian but it was a really interesting experience for me to see okonomiyaki being prepared and cooked right in front of me, in the middle of the table on the flat non-stick surface.
When the waitress was done cooking, she left our table, and my husband and his friend served themselves and I was served my vanilla ice cream, which I ate the slowest I could to last the whole dinner. I was not sure if I can just order vegetables and make a vegetable okonomiyaki-- I was just too scared of the cooking materials (I don't like cooking my food on pans and pots that are used for meat too) and I had a feeling that everything there has fish sauce and other flavorings that are not suitable for me. Don't worry, I ate pasta before going out that night. Heh heh.
A few weeks after that, my ever thoughtful and loving husband invented an okonomiyaki recipe especially for me. I learned to cook it too. Since then, almost all the time, it turns out wonderful (my husband agrees). He says I cook it very well; and he now doesn't eat okonomiyaki outside, instead he just asks me to cook this veg*n version whenever he wants.
Okonomiyaki literally means "stir-fried (yaki) choice or preference (okonomi)". So don't be restricted to my ingredients and just be creative and mix up your matching favorite veggies!
cabbage, strips or squares
carrot, small cubes or strips
aonori or aosa
nagaimo or egg
salt and pepper
SAUCE: sesame oil, sesame seeds, vegetarian mushroom sauce or Worcester sauce, soy sauce, sugar, lemon (optional)S
On a big bowl or pot, mix cabbage, carrot, egg, regular flour, tempura flour (but cornstarch will probably work out fine too), pepper, salt, ajinomoto and/or mushroom powder.
On a medium-sized non-stick pan, pour about 2 tablespoons of oil and brush it evenly on the surface. Keep the fire in medium heat until pan is hot.
Pour your vegetable mixture into the pan and spread it on the whole pan getting around half a centimeter thickness of okonomiyaki. Cover the pan.
When the underside is brown and the top side is not wet anymore (about 10-15 minutes, as far as my feelings remember), flip it over. Good luck in not letting your pie break.
Cook the other side up to the desired doneness.
You may sprinkle some nori strips. Here, I used aonori (ao meaning blue or green). The dip here is a mixture of sesame oil, sesame seeds, oyster mushroom sauce, soy sauce, super bit of sugar and a drop or two of lemon. This is for a more Japanese flavor. I also like mine as is or with vinegar.
Tips and tricks
My husband likes the crunchy part so I wait until the first underside is crunchy brown before flipping over. When my husband cooks it, since he's taller and has stronger arms, he throws the pie upwards to let it flip mid air like a pro. But what I do is lower the fire and cover the pie with a big plate (enough to hold the okonomiyaki) and carefully flip it over. Then I slide it back to the pan carefully and continue cooking the other side.