The first time we tried this okonomiyaki recipe on our raclette grill, we were both noobs. I'd only tried them once before, at a night market in Taipei, and Jeremy had never heard of them. Throughout the meal, he kept trying to think of a good English equivalent. He called them Japanese pizza, Japanese pancakes, Japanese crepes, Japanese frittatas, Japanese open-faced sandwiches, and the Japanese equivalent of the epic Primanti Bros. sandwich.
In the end, we agreed that okonomiyaki is its own delicious thing. Now we order okonomiyaki whenever we see it on the menu and it's become one of our favorite tabletop cooking meals at home.
A question of style
The big question I had to resolve before I started cooking was whether to make a Hiroshima-style or Kansai/Osaka-style okonomiyaki recipe. Hiroshima-style calls for the chef to layer the ingredients on top of the initial pancake, but since I was going to be the chef, I decided against trying to flip over a pancake piled haphazardly with loose cabbage and noodles.
Osaka-style is actually cooked with the cabbage and some pre-cooked seafood (if you like) inside the batter, so I felt there was a better chance of my making something that looked recognizably like okonomiyaki if I went in that direction.
If you want to learn more about okonomiyaki, including the specifics of the regional differences, check out the site Okonomiyaki World.
You can also order okonomiyaki sauce online, if you can't find it at your local Asian grocery store. We made our own sauce, too. I'm just trying to show you how you can make okonomiyaki, however you prefer to make it, right on the table using your raclette grill. Anyway, the Japanese name means "as you like it, grilled," so this is a judgment-free zone!
However...all that being said, you'll probably have to find your way around the local Asian grocery store to find at least some of the ingredients for this okonomiyaki recipe, like dashi (Japanese seafood broth), dried bonito flakes, seaweed flakes, and/or dried shrimp. Otherwise, you can buy most of the ingredients online.
Ingredients for the batter
Choose a few of your favorite okonomiyaki toppings for flair. We used the bonito fish flakes, strips of pork belly, and calamari rings.
Add some of these after both sides have been cooked, just before serving.
Note: Hoisin sauce is Chinese, not Japanese, but it's so delicious and versatile that I call it "Chinese ketchup". It's sweet, salty, sticky, and tasty–and a lot easier to find at any grocery store than okonomiyaki sauce.
Using your spatula, split the pancake into portions for each guest. You can eat okonomiyaki with a fork or with chopsticks. While you're eating, putting some more batter on the grill to get the next one ready. I usually end up whipping up another batch of batter real quick, especially if we have guests.
After you've made this okonomiyaki recipe, you might want to try out some other raclette grill recipes:
Some of my favorite online stores might have just what you need for your next tabletop meal!
Asian Food Grocer has a great selection of essential ingredients and many hard-to-find items.
Cilantro Cook Shop has a great selection of quality raclette and fondue sets.
For The Gourmet has an amazing selection of cheeses and chocolates.
Sephra specializes in chocolate, caramel and fruit fondues... and fountains.