Vegetarian Okonomiyaki (Japanese Cabbage Pancakes)

February 5, 2017 at 1:50 pm (101 cookbooks, B plus, breakfast, Cruciferous rich, Derek's faves, Fall recipes, Japanese, Peter Berley, Quick weeknight recipe, Spring recipes, Winter recipes)

I was looking for a green cabbage recipe that a toddler would like, and I came across this pretty simple (albeit quite Americanized) vegetarian Okonomiyaki recipe on the 101 cookbooks blog. Alma generally likes pancakes, so I decided to give it a try. Below is a doubled version of the original recipe, with a few modifications. Derek and I like them a lot, and it’s a relatively quick recipe, so suitable for a weeknight dinner or a Sunday lunch.

Ingredients for 2 large pancakes:

  • 4 cups green cabbage, finely shredded (about 280g)
  • 1 large carrot (about 110g), grated (will be about 1 cup not packed)
  • 2 cup leeks, white and light green part only, well washed and chopped (will be about 2 small leeks or 1 large leek, about 2 cups chopped, total weight chopped about 180g)
  • 2 to 4 scallions, sliced
  • 1 1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour (the first time I used 2/3 cup white flour and 2/3 cup whole wheat flour, but see note in update below!)
  • 1/2 tsp. fine salt
  • 4 large eggs, beaten (total will be about 200g out of shell)
  • 2 to 2 2/3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • toasted slivered almonds for garnish (about 1/4 cup or 1 ounce)
  • nori flakes for garnish (about 2g?)
  • cilantro, chives, or other herbs for garnish (optional)

Ingredients for spicy yogurt sauce:

  • 1 cup of yogurt (original recipe calls for 2 cups of yogurt)
  • 1/4 cup packed chopped fresh cilantro (original recipe calls for 5.33 Tbsp.)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt (original recipe calls for 1 tsp. coarse salt)
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper


  1. Combine the cabbage, carrot, leeks, scallions, flour, and salt in a bowl. Toss until everything is coated with a dusting of flour. Stir in the eggs and mix until everything is evenly coated. It takes a while to get the eggs distributed. Keep at it. It will happen!
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add a generous splash of olive oil (about 2 to 3 tsp.). Scoop half the cabbage mixture into the pan, and using a metal spatula press it into a round pancake shape, as flat as you can get it. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the bottom is golden. To flip the okonomiyaki, slide it out of the skillet onto a plate. Place another plate on top and flip both (together) over. If your pan looks dry and you need a bit more oil in your skillet, add it now (about a teaspoon), before sliding the okonomiyaki back into the skillet. Again press down a bit with a spatula and cook until golden on this side – another 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. While the pancake is cooking, make the spicy yogurt sauce.
  4. When you are finished cooking, sprinkle with toasted almonds, nori flakes, and chives, and slide it onto a cutting board to cut into wedges. Enjoy immediately.


The first time I made this recipe I followed the 101 cookbooks recipe closely, except I didn’t use any garnishes. The pancakes were good, but undersalted. We ate them with some creme fraiche, which Alma loved. She kept trying to just eat the creme fraiche by itself, rather than actually eating the pancake. But she did end up eating the cabbage pancake, even if she didn’t love it.

The second time I made it I added a carrot and some scallions, and served it with the spicy yogurt sauce that’s supposed to accompany the buckwheat cabbage pancakes from Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast. Derek absolutely loved them with the yogurt sauce. He said that neither the pancakes alone nor the yogurt sauce were all that special, but together they were dynamite. Alma wouldn’t touch the yogurt sauce (it was too spicy for her), and without the creme fraiche she was less excited about the pancakes. She still ate some though.

I think we will keep making them, but maybe next time I will call them Okonomi-yummy, and see if that helps make them more toddler-palatable. Hopefully Alma won’t turn the tables on me and declare it Okonomi-yukky!

Eventually, I would also like to try a variant inspired by the Peter Berley recipe — I’d like to replace half of the wheat flour with buckwheat flour and see how it is. I haven’t tried garnishing with nori flakes yet, but that seems traditional and a friend of mine just gave me a big bag of nori flakes as a gift, so I want to try it next time. The almonds as garnish don’t seem very traditional, but we like them. I wonder if I could incorporate them into the pancake itself (or into the dipping sauce) because when they’re just sprinkled on top Alma can’t really manage to eat them with the pancake.

Using 2 Tbsp. olive oil, 1/2  of a pancake and 1/4 of the dipping sauce together have about 410 calories, 46/38/15% carbs/fat/protein, 8g fiber, 3.6 mg iron, and 187g calcium.

Update March 13, 2017

I made this recipe for dinner tonight, except I accidentally halved the flour. I used 2/3 cup whole wheat flour but no white flour. It came out surprisingly well. The main difference was that it was less filling. Whereas the last two times the three of us only ate one pancake, this time we almost finished off both pancakes. Maybe next time I will try using about 2/3 cup of whole wheat flour and 1/3 cup of chickpea or almond flour, to make them slightly more filling? Or maybe incorporate the sliced almonds into the batter?

I didn’t put any scallions in them, and instead served them with scallions, nori flakes, chives, and sesame seeds as garnishes. None of us cared for the chives, and the sesame seeds were okay but not as good as the sliced almonds. Derek really liked the nori flakes, I thought they were okay, and Alma didn’t like them at all.

Alma liked it this time. I made her her own yogurt dipping sauce with cilantro but without the cayenne pepper. I did put in a touch of raw garlic and she complained it was too spicy, and didn’t eat that much of it. Next time I guess I should not put any garlic in her sauce.

I can’t recall what pan I made these in in the past, but this time I used my 12-inch stainless steel skillet, and it worked fine.

I’m also curious to try adding a few shredded shiitakes mushrooms in.


1 Comment

  1. austingardener said,

    I made them vegan substituting garbanzo bean flour for the eggs. I used 1/3 c. white flour, 1/3 cup whole wheat flour and 1/3 cup garbanzo bean flour. I also used some baking powder and veggie broth. I had fresh leeks form the garden also. Dad loved them.

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