The Seasoned Franciscan - Cooking Joyfully

Japanese Pancakes - Okonomiyaki

By Meredith Hink on Monday, April 24th 2023

2 eggs or 1/4 cup aquafaba (the liquid that remains when you drain canned legumes, like pintos)
1 C vegetable broth
2 C all-purpose flour
1 1/2 C fresh or frozen thinly sliced cabbage, coleslaw mix (no dressing), or other cabbage-like greens (e.g. bok choy)


  1. Heat pan or griddle over medium-high heat
  2. Combine eggs/aquafaba, flour, and cabbage
  3. Slowly incorporate vegetable broth, stirring in with a whisk until the batter is pancake batter consistency
  4. Ladle 3/8 cup batter onto pan or griddle
  5. Cook until liquid around edges have fully cooked and then flip to other side to finish cooking
  6. Serve with a tangy sauce made of one part mustard to two parts mayonnaise (serves 10 4-inch pancakes)

Meredeth Hink shares a recipe “that should be appropriate for this time of year. I have been making these pancakes for my family since I was in high school. They are easy to make and a great way to use up leftover vegetables, especially cabbage/coleslaw mix. They can be made vegetarian or vegan (if you use the aquafaba, which is basically the water saved from canned beans).”

Okonomiyaki, in its different variations, started to become more popular during WWII when rice became scarce and residents had to be creative in using other more readily available ingredients. The simple wheat pancake fit the bill and and people started to add more ingredients such as eggs, pork, cabbage and mayo-based sauce.

Japanese values of culture, health and the environment are seen in Japanese school lunches. In grades 1 and above there are no snacks. Food is made from scratch. Fruit, veggies, meat, fish, milk, etc. are from school farms and local sources. Processed foods are avoided: no tater tots, frozen pizza, frozen breaded meat or fish patties and fruit rather than sugary desserts. Compare your experience of school lunch with that of Japan, by clicking: American and Japanese people swap school lunches.

“The 45-minute lunch period is considered as an educational period, same as math or reading”, said the principal of Gr 1-6 elementary school with 682 students in Saitama. Observe in a 9-minute video: School Lunch in Japan - It isn't just about eating.

In many countries, and some US communities, change is coming in schools and other institutions. In the US, changes in the food system are slow for 3 main reasons.

Business: Large US and global food companies have relationships and investments with institutions like school boards and other leaders who decide where to buy food.

Media: Advertising dollars spent on high-calorie, low-nutritional foods lead highly processed options to be more in demand by students (and many parents) than fresh produce and made-from-scratch options. Many kids do not get homemade food at home to notice the difference. Many adults don't cook from scratch often.

Budget: Fresh food cooked daily from scratch is harder and takes more time and investment. Schools and other institutions must believe it's worth the effort to prioritize the health of both eaters and the planet.

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