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, Necessarily nonvegan, Peter Berley, Quick weeknight recipe, Spring recipes, Uncategorized, 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, well washed and chopped (will be about 2 small leeks or 1 large leek, about 2 cups chopped, total weight about 180g)
  • 2 to 4 scallions, sliced
  • 1 1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour (we used 2/3 cup white flour and 2/3 cup whole wheat flour)
  • 1/4 to 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?)
  • chives or herbs for garnish

Ingredients for spicy yogurt sauce:

  • 3/4 cups of yogurt (original recipe calls for 2 cups of yogurt)
  • 2 Tbsp. packed chopped fresh cilantro (original recipe calls for 1/3 cup)
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1/8 tsp. fine sea salt (original recipe calls for 1 tsp. coarse salt)
  • 1/8 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.
  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. Maybe I can also make Alma her own yogurt sauce with cilantro but without the raw garlic and cayenne pepper. 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.


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