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What is Okonomiyaki?

Okonomiyaki (pronounced "Oh-koh-no-mee-ya-kee") literally means, "whatever you like, fried." It became a staple dish in the Japanese diet after WWII when the country experienced a shortage of rice and flour became more widely used. First used as a children's snack, okonomiyaki quickly became popular because of its versatility. People began adding whatever ingredients they had to the dish and topping it with Worcestershire sauce, which was newly introduced from the West. Okonomiyaki restaurants began opening, sometimes right in people's homes, to meet the demand for the dish.

 

Basic Okonomiyaki dish

 

Today, okonomiyaki is becoming popular across the globe because it is easy to customize to regional tastes with local ingredients. Popular non-traditional toppings include cheese, pesto, salami, jalapenos, olives, chili sauce, and hummus. Okonomiyaki can accommodate dietary restrictions due to allergies or religious practices. 

 

A basket of vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are the main ingredients in Okonomiyaki

 

Currently, Otafuku Foods is working to produce sauces that can be enjoyed by everyone. Our sauces are gluten-free, vegetarian, and contain no artificial colors or flavors. Our location in Malaysia is working to produce sauces that are made according to halal requirements, and we hope to soon certify several of our sauces as kosher.

 

Kansai-style Okonomiyaki

 

Osaka and Hiroshima, are both known for their unique styles of okonomiyaki. Osaka-style or Kansai-style blends the ingredients into a batter much like a cake mix and fries everything on the grill at the same time. Hiroshima-style adds the okonomiyaki ingredients in layers, much like a pizza. Starting with the flour batter as a base, grilled yakisoba noodles and heaps of cabbage are piled on and flattened before adding the other ingredients. Both styles finish with a generous coating of okonomiyaki sauce, Aonori flakes, and sometimes Japanese mayonnaise.

Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki with yakisoba noodles

 

Our founder, Seiichi Sasaki, was a vinegar and soy sauce retailer who noticed that okonomiyaki restauranteurs were unhappy with the Worcestershire sauce because it was thin and ran down to the bottom of the grill instead of sitting on the pancake. He began experimenting with sauce formulas and in 1952, he produced a thicker sauce that became the standard for okonomiyaki.

 

The Sasaki family in front of their vinegar and soy sauce store, Sasaki Shoten

 

 

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