Okonomiyaki bites are similar to traditional okonomiyaki, but they're easier to make because they're baked in the oven and you can make several at once! Fun to eat in more ways than one, these are also gluten-free, but you would never know the difference! They're a must-try!
Okonomiyaki is quite a mouthful to say, and literally translated, okonomi means "to one's liking" and yaki means "cooked". But what exactly is it?
What Is Okonomiyaki?
Okonomiyaki is a popular street food that originated in Osaka, Japan. It has been referred to as a savory Japanese pancake, usually filled with chopped cabbage and a protein like shrimp, scallops, octopus, pork belly, etc. ("okonomi" fillings "to one's liking"), and topped with a thick sweet and salty sauce, Japanese mayonnaise, furikake seasoning, and bonito fish flakes.
It is usually cooked ("yaki") on a very hot griddle in restaurants, and one of these thick Japanese pancakes usually serves one person.
I have enjoyed the experience of cooking and eating at okonomiyaki restaurants and it was so good that I wanted to be able to do it at home.
However, reproducing this popular dish at home presented challenges, one being that I do not have a really hot griddle. I used a skillet, but could only cook one at a time, two if I was lucky. They also take several minutes per side to cook, so if I wanted to make them for me and my family (four of us), the first ones got cold as I worked on making the rest. Okinomiyaki can also be a challenge to flip because they are heavier than regular breakfast pancakes because of their filling.
Enter my okonomiyaki bites! I worked on and came up with a solution and the results are oh so good! Not only do they solve the challenges I've mentioned, they are still delicious, way fun to eat because of their size, AND they're also gluten-free!
How To Make Okonomiyaki Bites
It all starts with the batter, and as I've already mentioned, my version is gluten-free. I combine rice flour and tapioca starch...two very simple and commonly used gluten-free flours to make the blend. Baking powder, salt, and white pepper round out the rest of the dry ingredients for the batter.
Instead of using plain water to mix with the dry ingredients, I dissolve some dashi granules in room temperature water for more umami flavor.
Add the dashi water to the dry ingredients and give it a good whisk to make a smooth, slighty runny, but consistent batter.
Finely chopped cabbage and eggs make up the basic foundation to the filling. To this you can add other fillings such as shrimp, scallops, pork belly, kimchi, etc., all which should be chopped into small chunks to ensure quick cooking and even distribution in the muffin cups. I always add a healthy amount of chopped green onions for flavor and brightness.
Mix all the ingredients with the batter until very well combined.
From here, it's as simple as scooping spoonfuls of the okonomiyaki mixture into a well-greased muffin tin. Divide the mixture evenly among the cups, flattening down the filling slightly.
Place the muffin tray into a preheated 425F/230C oven and let them bake for 15-20 minutes until the edges are golden brown.
And that's it! No hot griddle to deal with, no hot oil, no flipping (and potentially breaking) your okonomiyaki, and 12 pieces all cooked at the same time!
Toppings and Garnishes
You could certainly eat the okonomiyaki bites as they are, straight from the oven, but they will seem like they're missing something. The sauce and the toppings really complete the whole okonomiyaki flavor experience!
Yes, there is such a thing as okonomiyaki sauce! Recipes can vary, but the sauce is a sweet, savory, and slightly sour concoction made from ketchup, oyster sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and honey. It sounds simple, but it's an important component!
The okonomiyaki sauce gets spooned over the okonomiyaki bites and then comes...
Another must is Kewpie mayonnaise, a Japanese mayonnaise that has more flavor and depth than regular western mayonnaise. This gets drizzled over the okonomiyaki sauce and the combination of the two packs quite a flavor punch!
Furikake and Bonito Flakes
The crowning touch, both visually and in flavor, are the dry garnishes.
Furikake is a savory seasoning, often made of a mixture of sesame seeds, dried seaweed and other umami flavored ingredients. It is most usually used as a topping for plain rice, but it also lends great flavor to okonomiyaki.
Bonito flakes, or dried smoke fish shavings, are another dry topping that is packed with umami. When placed in contact with heat, the flakes "move" or sway and curl, making them seem as if they're alive, but they're not!
Frequently Asked Questions
These okonomiyaki bites are so loaded with goodness that they make a tasty meal all by themselves. But the fact that they are small bites also makes them great appetizers.
They would also be a great addition to a buffet spread of small bites dishes.
Keeping with the Japanese theme, serve them with miso soup or a light salad topped with a sesame dressing.
If you happen to have any leftovers, store them in the fridge, preferably with no okonomiyaki sauce, mayo, or other toppings. Reheat in the microwave or in the oven and top as usual with the sauces and seasonings before eating.
Traditionally, okonomiyaki uses regular all-purpose flour, but I chose to develop a gluten-free version for those with diet sensitivities.
If you are not gluten-free and are fine with regular flour, go ahead and use the equivalent weight amount of all-purpose flour to substitute the gluten-free rice flour and tapioca starch. Easy!
While going to a restaurant where you can cook your own okonomiyaki can be a lot of fun, making okonomiyaki bites at home can be just as enjoyable and a heck of a lot easier! While it's not exactly the same as cooking a big pancake on a hot griddle, you still get these really fun-shaped bites to eat and you can make several to feed a crowd at once. And it's just as tasty...how can you say no to that? 😉
Watch How To Make It!
- 200 grams finely chopped napa cabbage
- 150 grams protein of choice, cut into small chunks (shrimp, scallops, octopus, pork belly, etc.)
- 2 spring onions, finely chopped
- 2 eggs
- Combine ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, honey, and oyster sauce in a bowl and mix until well combined. Set aside.
- Preheat oven 425F/230C.
- In a medium sized, mixing bowl, combine rice flour, tapioca starch, baking powder, and white pepper and whisk together.
- Mix the room temperature water with the dashi granules until they have dissolved.
- Add the dashi water solution to the dry ingredients and whisk until well mixed and batter is fairly smooth.
- Add chopped napa cabbage, protein of your choice, chopped spring onions, and eggs to the bowl containing the batter. Mix very well.
- Grease muffin tin generously with oil. Scoop mixture into muffin cups, dividing mixture evenly. Flatten filling down slightly.
- Bake for 15 minutes until edges are browned.
- Serve immediately and garnish with okonomiyaki sauce, Kewpie mayonnaise, bonito flakes, furikake, chopped scallions, sesame seeds, etc.
- If you are not gluten-free, feel free to use the equivalent amount of weight (150 grams) of regular all-purpose flour for your okonomiyaki batter.
- Napa cabbage should be finely chopped into small pieces.
- For protein choices, you can use whatever combination you'd like of raw shrimp, scallops, octopus, pork belly, bacon, etc.
- Cut your protein into small pieces so there is even distribution among the muffin cups.
- Some people like mixing grated cheese into the okonomiyaki batter.
- Be sure to grease the muffin tin well to ensure the okonomiyaki bites come out easily as well as to encourage browning on the sides and bottoms.
- If you choose to use muffin tin liners, use foil or parchment liners for easier removal.