For this week lifestyle article we decide to bring you another What is? article. This time we will go deep into the world of Asian street food. Okonomiyaki is a much loved Japanese pancake made of batter mixed with shredded cabbage and a variety of ingredients. In this article, we will focus, in one of its essential accompaniments, the Okonomiyaki sauce.
Okonomiyaki sauce is an umami-packed Japanese sauce used as a condiment for many dishes. It goes great on everything! On burgers and steaks, as a dip for veggies and meats, in soups and as a marinade or stir-fry. Just like BBQ sauce, its sweet, smoky flavor adds an extra element to just about any food you’re enjoying.
Okonomiyaki sauce is a sweeter and less salty descendant of Worcestershire sauce. The big difference between these sauces is in the main ingredient. While Worcestershire uses anchovies as the source for its powerful umami flavor, the Japanese version uses dates as the main ingredient. But this is not the only difference between these sauces. Worcestershire sauce uses tamarind, which has a taste that is both sweet and sour, while Okonomiyaki sauce uses raisins for a milder flavor. You can also see a big difference in texture, the Japanese sauce is much thicker than its British ancestor.
It was after that the WWII, during the recovery of the Japanese economy, that this sauce was born. After the war, the main source of nutrition was a simple flour cake, that would eventually become know as okonomiyaki. At the time the Worcestershire sauce was a popular topping for this cakes because of its savory, umami taste. So, in 1950, Seiichi Sasaki (Otafuku founder) introduced the “Otafuku Worcestershire Sauce” as a topping for the famous Japanese pancakes.
However, after listening to okonomiyaki vendors complain that Otafuku sauce was too thin and runny for okonomiyaki, Seiichi began experimenting with a thicker sauce. In 1952, he produced a new product called “Otafuku Okonomi Sauce”, specifically for okonomiyaki, which is now the actual version of the famous sauce.
If you cannot find this Japanese sauce in your local supermarket don’t stress out! It’s actually very straightforward to make and uses very few ingredients. For a basic recipe, all you will need is ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and honey or sugar or soy sauce. Accordingly, to Okonomiyaki World their recipe recommends using the ratio of 3 tablespoons of ketchup, with 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce.
Once the ingredients are evenly mixed together they can be spread onto your Japanese pancake or put into a squeeze bottle to apply liberally over your chosen food.