Low Carb Okonomiyaki (Japanese Savoury Pancake)

Cravings are a hard thing to explain. It is amazing how small stimuli can trigger off memories and a hankering to relive experiences. After going to Osaka last month, I haven’t been able to stop thinking of okonomiyaki, which is a kind of Japanese pancake and common street food. In fact a busy okonomiyaki stall was just across the street from our hotel and it was the last thing we saw every night after long days of fun and sightseeing.

Okonomiyaki is one of Japan’s most commonly seen food exports. Most food courts or shopping centers in Singapore would have at least a takoyaki and okonomiyaki stall. Making your own at home is not difficult as long as you have a decent non-stick skillet.

It took a long time to figure out how to make low carb okonomiyaki. Like most snacks in Asia, flour is the thing that holds the pancake together and makes the pancake crispy. I was inspired by this recipe which used koya tofu (a kind of dried and frozen tofu). I couldn’t find it in the Japanese specialty food store I visited however but I decided to use our local version of firm tofu (tau kwa) which worked pretty well in the end.

Verdict on this recipe: family was happy, flavour pretty genuine, kind of lacking the crispness that flour gives but not to bad for dealing with okonomiyaki cravings when they strike . 🙂


  • Servings: makes 4 pancakes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 300 g firm tofu
  • 80 g luncheon meat
  • 1/4 head of cabbage (about 100g), finely chopped
  • 1 sprig of spring onions, green and white parts sliced thin
  • 2 Tbsp arrowroot flour
  • 1tbsp Japanese soy sauce
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • Okonomiyaki sauce (available in Japanese food stores)
  • Japanese mayonnaise (kewpie brand is great)
  • Handful of bonito flakes (I had awesome smoked bonito flakes from Osaka that was awesome on this okonomiyaki)


  1. Blend the tofu in a blender until paste-like. Put into a bowl.
  2. Blend the luncheon meat as well and add to the bowl.
  3. Add the salt, pepper and soy sauce to the mixture. Mix in the beaten eggs.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the chopped cabbage, spring onions and arrowroot flour together until well mixed. Put the vegetable mix into the tofu mixture and mix well.
  5. Heat up a non-stick pan with the oil over low heat. Scoop in 1/4 of the batter (this should make a pancake about 10-12 cm in diameter). Cover the pan with a lid and cook under low heat about 5 min.
  6. Remove the lid and carefully flip over the pancake. Gently flatten the pancake with a spatula. Cover with the lid again and cook for another 5 minutes.
  7. Slide the pancake onto the serving plate. Top with lashings of okonomiyaki sauce, japanese mayo and a sprinkling of bonito flakes.
  8. Serve immediately. Goes great with some cold sake on the side 😉

Note to self: half way through the painstaking frying and covering (I guess partly steaming) the okonomiyaki was the eureka moment – this is the kind of situation where the Happy Call pan (Korean double sided frying pan) would absolutely come in handy. No need for the ginger flipping of the pancake!

The devil is in the details. Step by step view of how to do the topping for the pancake: okonomiyaki sauce first, then japanese mayo and finally bonito flakes.


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