Japanese-Style Pancakes: Okonomiyaki & Monjayaki

lssue:2010/3/15

Cuisine Summary

“Okonomiyaki” (oh-koh-noh-mee yah-kee) and “monjayaki” (mohn-jah yah-kee) are two distinctive types of savory Japanese pancake. They are made of seasoned flour with various ingredients added, and cooked on a hot iron plate.Although both types are flour-based with ingredients such as cabbage or sprouts mixed into the batter, the main differences between them are the amount of seasoning used, and the way they are cooked.

Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki batter is formed into a firm, pancake-like shape when cooked, then topped with sauce, shredded seaweed, or other condiments for flavor.

monjayaki

monjayaki batter is softer, and is spread evenly throughout the iron plate. It is most often eaten when partially cooked.

Both types are popular with the general public, as they are considered a fulfilling meal for a reasonable price. A lot of Okonomiyaki restaurants offer monjayaki as well.

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History

Origins

Both types of savory pancake can be traced back to Japan’s Edo Period. In those days, the batter consisted of flour and water, which was lightly grilled and topped with savory miso, then rolled up.The origins of monjayaki can be traced back to early 19th century Tokyo. At that time it was considered a snack for children, but today is enjoyed by young and old alike with a large variety of ingredients.Monjayaki evolved further in the twentieth century, with its batter being spread thinly throughout the iron plate, then topped with green onions and Worcester sauce. This later developed into the contemporary Japanese pancake known as Okonomiyaki.

Regional Variations

Okonomiyaki variations are classified by region. Kansai-style and Hiroshima-style are the two most well-known regional variations.

Kansai-style: The batter is made with grated yams and cooked into a soft, savory pancake, then topped with sauce, mayonnaise, or ketchup according to preference.

Hiroshima-style: Known for its thin crepe-like batter, and large volume of cabbage and sprouts. Sometimes it is topped with soba or udon noodles, and a thin fried egg, then formed into a circular patty on the iron plate. Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki is also known for its sweet sauce.monjayaki is originally from Tokyo.

Manners

How to Eat Okonomiyaki

Depending on the restaurant, sometimes you’ll have to make the pancakes yourself, or a chef will prepare them for you. If you’re not feeling brave enough to cook them yourself, it’s perfectly fine to ask the restaurant staff for assistance. To add toppings, first brush the pancake with sauce, then sprinkle seaweed, fish flakes, or other condiments on top of that. Mayonnaise or ketchup can also be added as toppings if so desired.A small metal spatula is used to cut the finished pancake into sections like a pizza. The sections can be eaten directly with the spatula, or with chopsticks.

How to Eat monjayaki

monjayaki is generally cooked on a hot iron plate atop your table. You can cook it yourself, or ask the restaurant staff to assist you if necessary. Once half-cooked, scoop it off of the iron plate with a small, spatula-like utensil called a “hera” to eat it.
Step 1: Spread oil on the iron plate, then put the ingredients on the plate once it’s hot. Make sure not to pour the batter on at this stage.
Step 2: Use spatulas to mix and fry the ingredients.
Step 3: Form the ingredients into a donut shape on the iron plate, then pour the batter in the middle of the donut. Try to keep the donut shape intact through this process.
Step 4: Once the batter starts to boil, gradually mix it together with the surrounding ingredients, then spread it throughout the entire iron plate.

How to Order & Pay

Select what you’d like to eat from the menu. Make sure to let the restaurant staff know if you want extra ingredients while ordering.You can pay for your meal at the register when finished, but please keep in mind that credit cards are rarely accepted, especially in smaller restaurants.

Typical Ingredients

The Main Ingredients Used in Okonomiyaki and monjayaki

Both types of pancakes consist of batter and some type of vegetable, such as cabbage. You can add a variety of ingredients to the mix depending on what you like. Some of the more popular combinations include pork with egg, or cod roe with cheese.

Pork (Buta-Niku)

  • Pork (Buta-Niku)

Squid (Ika)

  • Squid (Ika)

Scallops (Hotate)

  • Scallops (Hotate)

Shrimp (Ebi)

  • Shrimp (Ebi)

Egg (Tamago)

  • Egg (Tamago)

Clams (Asari)

  • Clams (Asari)

Oysters (Kaki)

  • Oysters (Kaki)

Cheese

  • Cheese

Cod Roe (Tarako)

  • Cod Roe (Tarako)

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