Yesterday, I came across this wonderful eatery in the city. And they served some outstandingly delicious Japanese delicacies. However, one dish stood out the most – Okonomiyaki, a savoury Japanese pancake.
I know, you might think the name is absurd but well it’s a Japanese dish, so did you really expect an easy name?
Anyways! Moving forward. Okonomiyaki made such a lasting impression that as soon as I reached home, I sat down and skimmed through Google to know everything about it.
How Did Okonomiyaki Originate
Okonomiyaki first originated in Hiroshima. Now, when you think of Hiroshima, what is the first thing that comes to your mind?
The brutality it was subjected to during the dark atomic years?
However, when you look deeper, you’ll discover that the enticing and boisterous streets of Hiroshima are steeped in the wonderful history of Okonomiyaki. In fact, it is Hiroshima’s one ticket to fame that belies its infamous atomic legacy.
History Of Okonomiyaki
These savoury crepe-like pancakes can trace back their history all the way to the Edo Period (1683-1868), also called the Tokugawa period, where they were served during the Buddhist Ceremonies and were called Funoyaki.
However, somewhere between Edo to Meiji Period(1868-1912), a comparatively sweeter dish called Sukesouyaki emerged or rather evolved.
Further down the lane, in 20’s and 30’s, with more prominence given to the sauce, the dish transformed once again and came to be widely known as Yoshokuyaki.
Finally, in the late 30’s, Okonomiyaki came into light, rising, as a household name in Osaka.
During the war years, when the times were tough and the food was scarce, natives showed astonishing creativity. With ingenuity, that Japanese are famous for, they created different variations of the dish with the ingredients that were present at hand.
Afterwards, when Hiroshima found its foot (notwithstanding the atomic attack), people began to add more ingredients like egg, pork, cabbage et al.
An Astonishing Tale Of Rivalry, Hiroshima’s Okonomiyaki vs Osaka’s Okonomiyaki
Otherwise polite, placid Japanese fight tooth and nail to prove who wins when it comes to the recipe of Okonomiyaki.
Yes, they are so passionate about a not-so-mere dish.
Whereas, on one hand, Osakan Okonomiyaki entails grilled pancake mixed in a batter, with cabbage, pork, egg et al on top further intensified with ingredients like shrimp and octopus, which are finally immersed in okonomiyaki sauce.
On another hand, Hiroshimans prepare their Okonomiyaki layer by layer. First, they roast a small pancake which is then layer by layer, fill it with ingredients. The first layer consists of shredded cabbage. The pancake is then flipped onto fried eggs before finally serving it.
However, despite the absurd yet somehow amazing rivalry, both the styles are equally riveting when it comes to their taste. If anything, one might even fail to find any significant difference.
Parting Words …
From gore to glory, Japan has seen everything and has come out unscathed. It is not only its exotic taste that makes Okonomiyaki different from numerous other Japanese cuisines. It is its history, which resonates the story of conviction, grit and creativity of Japanese people.
These people never lost hope even when there was a dearth of sunlight, hidden amidst the billowing smoke and soot, in the Land of Rising Sun. The history of Okonomiyaki proves that despite the obstacles, how Japanese adroitly created something so wonderful, making do with scarce ingredients at hand.
Break the language barrier and embrace this enigmatic but yummy as heck Japanese dish. I’m sure you’ll love it (even if you can’t pronounce its name).
And yes, don’t forget to thank me later.