This vegan okonomiyaki recipe is inspired by the Japanese-style savoury pancake made with shredded cabbage and protein-rich chickpea flour. It’s a 30 minute weeknight-friendly dinner, served alongside some roasted Japanese sweet potatoes or greens!
An easy – albeit non-traditional – vegan okonomiyaki, ready in about 30 minutes!
If you asked me the two things I loved most – other than my friends and family of course! – this dietitian would say food (duh!) and travel. I didn’t get to travel much as a kid but in my late teens and early 20s, I more than made up for it when I packed myself up and decided to travel and work my way around much of Asia.
And when I say “Asia” I mean it: I’ve been lucky enough to travel from Beijing and Tokyo in the Northeast to Indonesia and Singapore in the Southeast. There are still a few spots on my Asia bucket list, but I have covered a LOT of territory. And those formative years have really influenced the plant-based recipes I love to eat, and cook.
You’ll see it a lot in my books…like this vegan okonomiyaki recipe which is from Good For your Gut Cookbook. It’s inspired by the time I spent in Osaka, Japan, home of the Osaka-style okonomiyaki.
I was vegetarian back then, but even so, it was the nineties and it was really hard to find vegetarian food for someone who didn’t speak the language well. So I ate a lot of homemade udon, and tons of egg salad sandwiches, inari sushi and yogurts from the konbini (convenience stores). So it was such a treat for me to go to an okonomiyaki restaurant where I could get an authentic vegetarian meal!
Of course, now I’m fully plant-based so I wanted to adapt one of my nostalgic faves for how I eat now.
What is okonomiyaki?
Osaka-style okonomiyaki is a savoury egg pancake that is mixed with vegetables (typically cabbage and mountain yam) and proteins and grilled. It’s a versatile dish: its name literally means what you like (okonomi) + grilled (yaki). In fact, in Osaka, you can go to okonomiyaki restaurants where you order your choice of ingredients and then griddle it yourself, which is where I first tried this popular street food!
However, this recipe is not a traditional style of okonomiyaki. I love using chickpea flour in place of eggs – it’s my secret to a killer vegan breakfast sandwich – so I’ve substituted chickpea flour for the eggs and flour, and there is no mountain yam.
And of course, this recipe is vegan! It’s my veganized version of the one that became a family staple over a decade ago, the tofu okonomiyaki recipe I found in Chatelaine magazine years back. If you want to see a more traditional style vegan okonomiyaki, Lisa at OkonomiKitchen has a great one.
Grab your ingredients for this easy vegan okonomiyaki recipe
If okonomiyaki is new to you, you’ll be surprised how easy this recipe is! Just 8 core ingredients…many of which you likely have in your pantry right now.
Minimal chopping, a veggie-filled vegan okonomiyaki with just 8 ingredients (plus oil and salt!)
Chickpea flour: common in South Asian cuisine, besan (chickpea flour) is a wonderful alternative to eggs in vegan dishes. It’s rich in plant-based protein and fiber and holds together well. In a pinch, chickpea-fava flour will also work here
Coleslaw mix: this recipe needs very little chopping thanks to storebought coleslaw mix! Feel free to use a traditional slaw, a kale slaw mixture or just finely shred some cabbage yourself.
Smoked tofu: smoked tofu gives a bacon-y flavour to this recipe and adds a ton of protein.
Green onions: Adds a ton of flavour…don’t skip them!
Sesame Oil: Whenever I say sesame oil, I mean dark toasted sesame oil which has a rich, nutty flavour.
Shiro Miso: This is the lightest style of miso, also called white miso, as it has the shortest fermentation time of traditional miso.
Vegan Mayo: Don’t skip this part! Sauce makes everything more delicious. I have an awesome vegan avocado oil mayo recipe if you don’t have any on hand.
Pickled (Sushi) Ginger: I really like the Ginger People pickled ginger, which isn’t dyed pink and doesn’t have artificial sweeteners but use whatever you can find.
FAQ: is chickpea flour healthy?
Chickpea flour is simply finely ground dried chickpeas, so yes, it’s packed with nutrition! Besan (chickpea flour) is a high fiber food, with about 3 grams of fibre per ¼ cup (60 ml) and it also contains about 5 grams of plant-based protein along with potassium, iron and zinc.
How to make vegan okonomiyaki
Vegan okonomiyaki in about 30 minutes? Yes please! There are a couple of steps involved, but they’re very, very simple…so let’s get going!
…then whisk in the water and let the batter hydrate for 10 minutes while you slice tofu and onions
spread the miso-sesame mixture over the smoked tofu slices
then add the green onions and coleslaw and you’re ready to cook!
Step One: hydrate the flour by mixing the chickpea flour, salt and water and letting it sit for 10 minutes to thicken while you slice up the tofu and green onions.
Step two: mix the sesame oil and miso together and rub the sliced tofu with it. Mix the green onions and cabbage into the chickpea batter.
Step three: Fry the tofu on both sides in a nonstick pan, then spread the chickpea batter evenly over the tofu. Cover with a lid to steam for a few minutes, then carefully flip and cook the other side for a few minutes.
Step four: mix the mayo with the chopped ginger and serve on the side!
fry them on one side, flip and….
…then you’ll spread the batter over the tofu and let it cook, lid on until it is set, which takes just a few minutes!
use a plate or a lid and carefully flip the okonomiyaki and cook the other side until golden
Tips, tricks and substitutions
This okonomiyaki is best on the day it is made. However, it will keep for 2 days in the fridge. Try leftovers as a sandwich filling with leftover ginger mayo, quick pickled carrots and some greens.
Okonomiyaki is traditionally served with mayo and okonomiyaki sauce, which you could also veganize! Just one cookbook has a good okonomiyaki sauce recipe you can sub with vegan ingredients.
a good nonstick pan makes this recipe a breeze
More delicious vegan “egg” recipes
Spinach + Feta Tofu Scramble (Vegan)
Vegan Egg Salad Sandwich (low FODMAP)
Easy Protein-Packed Chickpea Scramble
Vegan Breakfast Sandwich with Chickpea Flour Eggs
Vegan Okonomiyaki with Chickpea Flour
⅓ cup vegan mayo¼ cup pickled ginger finely chopped
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