What is it:
Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savoury pancake made with cabbage and spring onions cooked on a teppan (traditional iron griddle) and served with a variety of toppings.
Versatile, quick to make and with cheap base ingredients, okonomiyaki can be enjoyed on-the-go, or even at brunch, with British PM Rishi Sunak one of the latest to discover the joys of okonomiyaki
during a trip to Japan in March.Why we're interested:
Okonomiyaki, which is widely considered a 'soul food' in Japan, translates to "cooked as you like it". And while traditional versions are built from wheat batter made with eggs, plant-based binders are not hard to come by these days, allowing chefs to develop Insta-worthy, comforting, flavourful plant-based versions, establishing a new, globally-inspired street food dish on menus.
Authentic okonomiyaki is served with Japanese mayonnaise and okonomiyaki sauce (the latter often a mix of Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, soy sauce, oyster sauce and sugar), with the duo criss-crossed across the pancake in what is a signature look.
When turning both sauces vegan, you might look to umami-boosting miso paste or kombu powder to help layer Japanese mayo flavours in a plant-based version, and silken tofu to boost creaminess. And for a vegan okonomiyaki sauce, tamari can be useful when replacing the fish sauce found in a typical Worcestershire sauce, while dried mushrooms can deliver the earthiness of an oyster sauce (or you could always buy in branded vegan versions of the pair).
Topping opportunities are entirely down to the chef, with pickled sushi ginger, shredded nori and mushrooms ideal for more Japanese-leaning iterations. Or you could go in a totally different direction, with the likes of avocado, vegan cheese and plant-based bacon turning a vegan okonomiyaki into a recognisable plant-based brunch item (riffing further with your own sauce base combo).