Okonomiyaki – Japanese cabbage pancakes

Food is emotional

Do you ever consider how emotional food and eating is?

How many different memories and feelings are attached to certain foods? Especially meals eaten with friends or family, in new restaurants, countries or your beloved cooking a special meal for you? There are some meals I have eaten in my life I still remember very well. Even if they happened many years ago.

I used to live in Brixton, in South West London, where I discovered many incredible and independent food places in Brixton Village Market. They are mostly run by people who infuse their dishes with passion and excitement, even if the ingredients are very humble. Like cabbage, for example! I love cabbage. It’s a staple food in Poland and finding new ways of eating and cooking it is always exciting for me.

My Okonomiyaki discovery

One evening, probably 10 years ago, my friend V. and I stumbled upon a tiny place in Brixton Market. Calling it a restaurant would be an overstatement, most places in the Market are ‘holes in the wall’, with tiny kitchens and usually with one or two people working there, and 4 or 5 tables in total.

This place made Japanese pancakes, Okonomiyaki. They are fritter-like pancakes that can be served with Japanese mayonnaise or hot sauce. It’s a great way to use up any leftover cabbage. We were naturally curious and very, very hungry at that point. We were not disappointed with what we were served, and the combination of cabbage and the okonomiyaki sauce works so well. I remember this meal so well, because I was there with my friend, and this was something very different we were trying.

Here is the recipe!


  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1.5 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 3/4 to 1 cup flour

  • 4-5 cups shredded cabbage (about a half of a small head of cabbage and any cabbage will do: white, savoy or Chinese)
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 3 spring onions (or one small regular onion, sliced)
  • 2 oil for frying

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise mixed with a bit of ketchup and soy sauce to taste and some garlic powder (salad cream is good, too)
  • 2 Tbsp sriracha 
  • 2 spring onions sliced
  • Thinly slice or shred half of the cabbage, until you have 4-5 cups.


  • Peel the carrot and grate it using cheese grater. Slice the spring onions.
  • In another bowl whisk the pancake ingredients adding the flour at the end, a few spoons at a time.
  • Add this batter to the cabbage mix and stir it well.
  • Heat some oil (sesame is good for this but any vegetable oil will do) in a frying pan and add some of the carrot and pancake mix. I made two large pancakes with this amount, but you can make about 8 smaller ones. They should be about 1-2 cm thick.
  • Once everything is all cooking cover the frying pan with a lid to hold in steam which will help cook the cabbage. Once the first side is cooked, put a plate on the top and turn it over to cook it on the other side.
  • Whisk together the sauce ingredients.
  • Once the pancakes are cooked plate them up and sprinkle with sliced spring onions and add the sauce on the top.

    Let us know what you think! Thanks, Gosia.