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Okonomiyaki: Japanese Comfort Food

Okonomiyaki: Japanese Comfort Food

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Okonomiyaki: Japanese Comfort Food

185 pagine
1 ora
Aug 8, 2012


For Chef Yoshio Saito, learning to cook traditional Japanese food at his mother’s side was a treasured part of his childhood. When she died when he was fourteen, he decided to honor her memory by learning how to cook her recipes and more.

In this cookbook, Chef Yoshio, a Tokyo native and trained French/Japanese fusion chef, introduces today’s modern home cook to Okonomiyaki, one of the most popular comfort foods in Japan. Okonomiyaki, although difficult to describe, can be likened to a savory pancake or pizza-like dish that is cooked on a griddle. Following on the tail of the popularity of sushi, Okonomiyaki is an exciting dish just becoming known in the United States. It uses a wide range of ingredients, including meat, seafood, vegetables, pasta, and more.

When Chef Yoshio walks into an Okonomiyaki restaurant, he always gets the sense that his mother is there, helping to create the wonderful smells. For him, the taste of Okonomiyaki is the taste of home. Gathering his favorite recipes, Chef Yoshio shares his tips for three major regional styles of this comfort food in this cookbook—Hiroshima, Osaka, and Tokyo styles. As well as introducing classic Okonomiyaki dishes, Chef Yoshio shares his creative new dishes that expand the possibilities of Okonomiyaki.
Aug 8, 2012

Informazioni sull'autore

Chef Yoshio Saito learned to cook at his mother’s side in Tokyo, cooking his first curry at fourteen, right before his mother’s death. Although his traditional father discouraged his passion for cooking, Yoshio persevered, learning classical Japanese and French cooking from his older sister, a student of Miyuki Iida, the Julia Child of Japan.

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Okonomiyaki - Yoshio Saito

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© Copyright 2012 Yoshio Saito.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the written prior permission of the author.

ISBN: 978-1-4669-0814-7 (sc)

978-1-4669-5183-9 (e)

Library of Congress Control Number: 2011962477

Trafford rev. 08/02/2012

North America & international

toll-free: 1 888 232 4444 (USA & Canada)

phone: 250 383 6864 . ax: 812 355 4082


Okonomiyaki Pantry

Vegetable and Shrimp Tempura

The Eleven Commandments of Okonomiyaki

Toppings and Sauces

Part 1 - Traditional Okonomiyaki

Tokyo Style

Osaka Style

Hiroshima Style

Part 2 - New Wave Okonomiyaki

Part 3 - Vegetarian Okonomiyaki

Part 4 - For Busy People

Part 5 - Appetizers

Part 6 - Desserts



About the Author

To my wife, Dorcas, and my daughters, Katrina and Emily.

They all urged me on.

Katrina helped with the preface and editing, and Emily provided the graphics and conceptual framework for the book. Before the book could be completed, Emily passed away in February of 2011. The last dish she cooked was Okonomiyaki, made for her friend.

I thank Dorcas for her never-ending support and love.


Someone once said, if you can read then you can cook—just read a cookbook. But there are variables to cooking: hotter burners, thicker or thinner pans, cooking equipment, and several types of griddles, so experiment with different varieties. These recipes provide a jumping off point.

In my classes and cooking seminars, my students always ask me two things. One is, what is the best Japanese Restaurant in Boston or in Tokyo? The other is How do I become a good cook? The answer to the first question is relatively easy, however, the second one takes time.

First, in order to become a good cook, you have to taste lots of good food. I can bring you as close as possible to this through my recipes, but you have to taste, and compare, to know what the dish should taste like. So, eat well!

Americans who know Okonomiyaki rush over to my vending stall, yelling with the passion of seeing a long lost lover, I’ve been craving Okonomiyaki since I left Japan. It’s impossible to describe to people, you have to taste it. I understand their conundrum. How can I explain Okonomiyaki to people?

It is a pizza-crepe, I say, a pizza-crepe with cabbage, bacon, noodles and a fried egg. So it is an omelet too. It is sprinkled with pickled red ginger and bonito-fish flakes and seaweed and light crisp tempura batter drops for crunch. A mayonnaise-cream-teriyaki-type sauce is dribbled over the top. You can put squid in it or scallops or cheese or lobster or pounded-rice Mochi or anything you would like! It is so difficult for people to imagine all of these tastes in their mouths. So I sometimes say, Okonomy means favorite. And Yaki means fried. So it is your favorite things—fried.

Okonomiyaki restaurants in Japan are often age-worn wooden structures with sliding papery doors and layers of grease. Walking into an Okonomiyaki restaurant is like walking into a kitchen. It’s noisy! Okonomiyaki is cooked on griddles, and the sound travels as the spatulas crack against the metal. You can feel the warmth from those black griddles that sit in the middle of each small table.

I always have a sense that my mother, who died 45 years ago, is there somewhere, making these wonderful Okonomiyaki smells. It’s the taste of home, of coming back to something you have been missing.

Okonomiyaki existed back in the 17th century, and popped up again in the 19th century as a dessert. In 1923, the same year as the Tokyo Earthquake, a new form of runny Okonomiyaki appeared, called Monjya-Yaki (See page 21) and, with that, it moved from a snack to a meal.

In the ruins of World War II, Okonomiyaki became a favorite children’s snack, called issen-teshoku, or penny-dish. They were sold at the issen-yaki, or penny-grills; and later became a food good enough for adults. (I used to tell my children that expensive food we ate was too good for kids. The prohibition made them hungry for the most expensive dishes).

The dish took off, and, today, there are almost 24,000 Okonomiyaki restaurants in Japan. In the city of Osaka, there is an Okonomiyaki-mura or village with twenty-seven Okonomiyaki restaurants competing with their original flavors and traditional recipes. The variations are endless. For fanatics, there is an Okonomiyaki Festival, an Okonomiyaki Museum, and even Okonomiyaki flavored chips and wafers that come complete with sauce and mayonnaise. The world’s biggest Okonomiyaki is a Kansai style one that is 8 meters (about 26 feet) in diameter.

I’ll introduce you to some new styles of Okonomiyaki as well as some Yoshio originals. So really, my favorite things! I use the traditional Japanese ingredients (explained in the next section). But there will also be recipes with more readily available ingredients. There are fairly complex recipes as well as a simple one to be eaten in twenty minutes. So let’s begin.


For authentic Okonomiyaki, it’s best to use authentic Japanese ingredients. Now, I realize that depending on where you live, these might be difficult to find, but I didn’t want to give you a watered-down version of the true Okonomiyaki.

A seaweed that is scraped off of rocks after drying in the sun. It’s powdery and dark green, and comes in a small

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