Vegan Okonomiyaki With Chickpea Flour
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!
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.
- 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!
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!
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.
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
- 1 ½ cups chickpea flour
- 1 ¼ cups water
- 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
- 2 packed cups coleslaw mix, or finely shredded cabbage
- 3 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1 package smoked tofu
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon shiro (white) miso paste
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- ⅓ cup vegan mayo
- ¼ cup pickled ginger, finely chopped
- In a medium bowl, whisk together chickpea flour, water and salt. Let sit while you prepare the tofu, green onions and ginger mayo.
- Slice tofu into ¼ inch (½ cm) slices. In a small bowl, mix together sesame oil and miso. Rub both sides of the tofu with miso mixture.
- In another small bowl, mix together mayo and ginger. Set aside. Stir the cabbage and green onions into the chickpea batter and you're ready to cook!
- Heat up avocado oil in a medium nonstick skillet on medium heat. Arrange tofu strips in the pan and cook until browned, about three minutes. Flip tofu and pour chickpea mixture over top.
- Cook for 3 minutes more to brown tofu, then reduce heat to medium low and cover with a lid to steam the okonomiyaki for about 3-4 min until set on one side.
- Next, you’re going to flip it: place a plate over the skillet and flip the okonomiyaki onto the plate. Carefully slide the okonomiyaki back into the skillet, increase heat to medium and cook until gently browned on the bottom, about 4-5 minutes.
- Cut into quarters and serve with a dollop of mayo on top.