Monja-yaki, also called monja, is a traditional Japanese dish made from cabbage, that is super fun to cook, and tastes awesome. It is generally cooked on a hot iron plate, and is a perfect food to have when you have a group of people eating together, as it can be quite a big meal, for a single person. People often confuse Monja-yaki with Okonomiyaki, the popular Japanese pancake. This is mainly because both dishes use similar ingredients – flour, cabbage, and eggs. So first, let’s understand what exactly is the difference between the two dishes.
1.Monjayaki vs Okonomiyaki : What’s the difference?
The difference between Monja-yaki and Okonomiyaki is like the the difference between an authentic thin crust pizza and a Chicago-style deep dish pizza pie. Both are pizzas and both are amazingly delicious, but in their own way both are distinctly unique. One is an authentic Italian style of pizza making, the other is a completely American creation. In a similar way, the main distinctions between Monjayaki and Okonomiyaki is how they are cooked, the type of seasoning used and the texture of the two dishes. Also, while Okonomiyaki is usually associated with Osaka and Hiroshima, Monjayaki is associated with the Kanto region of Japan. But, both items are generally available all across Japan, in several bars or restaurants dedicated to these dishes.
So, now that we know the difference between the two, let’s get on with how to cook the Monja-yaki…
2.Ingredients required for Cooking Monjayaki
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup water
1 cup soft shredded cabbage
1/2 cup dried shrimp
1 cup diced beef
1/2 cup Dashi stock
1 cup cubed tofu
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup Tenkasu (little bits of fried tempura batter)
Other fillings as per your choice (kimchi, noodles, spicy cod roe, cheese, mushrooms, chicken pieces, etc.)
- Mix the flour, water, Dashi stock and Worchestershire sauce together in a bowl. Dissolve the flour, and ensure there are no lumps.
- Place the cabbage on top of the batter / sauce, and partially soak it in the sauce for a minute or so. Place other ingredients on top of the cabbage.
- Heat the pan and put some oil on the pan.
- From the bowl, add the cabbage and other solid ingredients on to the hot pan. Stiry fry the cabbage, vegetables & meat, and cook them partially.
- Once the cabbage has cooked partially, make a ring of the cabbage mix, with a hole in the centre, like a doughnut. Make sure there are no leaks in the walls of the cabbage ring.
- Pour the batter / sauce from the bowl into the doughnut, and allow to cook for a few minutes. Allow the batter / sauce to boil, and once it begins to boil, mix the ingredients from the cabbage ring into the sauce.
- Spread the batter out thin, on the pan, and allow to continue cooking. Remember that as compared to the Okonomiyaki, the consistency of Monjayaki is more runny.
- Once it has cooked more than halfway, you can start scooping out small portions of the batter from the pan itself, using small individual spoons, and eat directly from the pan.
Enjoy your custom made monjayaki!
4.How to Eat Monjayaki
Monjayaki is great fun to eat with friends and family, or in large group settings, as everybody can eat at the same time. Monjayaki tastes best when its piping hot, so remember to eat it straight from the pan. Generally, you will need plates only if the monja has been cooking for too long on the pan, and you need to take it off the grill to stop it from burning. However, here’s a secret tip. The okuge or the burnt caramelised part of the monjayaki, that sticks to the pan, also tastes great with beer. So, make sure you don’t waste any part of that monjayaki.
Like with okonomiyaki, you can always experiment with new ingredients, and come up with unique and more interesting combinations of monjayaki. If you would like to eat monja in a restaurant, you can do that too. Most restaurants that serve Okonomiyaki also serve Monja. So, next time you are in Japan and craving some authentic Japanese cuisine, give the rames, sushi and udon noodles a skip, and head straight for the nearest monjayaki bar.
How To Cook Sukiyaki
While going out to eat is a huge part of experiencing Japan, it can be quite costly and not ideal for people who will stay in Japan for a long time. One way to continue enjoying Japanese cuisine while being smart with budgeting money is to buy ingredients and cook the food at home. You can cook it in large quantities to last you a few days which can make money stretch farther. Cooking at home sounds good, but what is a good starting point? An easy meal to cook meal meant for home cooking is Sukiyaki. Here is how...
Cheap Sushi Restaurant Chains in Japan
When traveling to Japan, visitors tend to go for one of the most iconic food items in Japanese cuisine — sushi. Sushi can be found in places all over Japan; however, depending on the type of fish and the type of cut from the fish, the sushi can range from surprisingly cheap to gaspingly expensive. Of course, there are plenty of other foods people want to try in Japan, so many visitors tend to opt for the cheaper cuts of sushi. In order to check them out, one must first know where to find them. Here are nine restaurant chains...
Japanese Dagashi Snacks and Top Picks to Try
Welcome to the wonderful world of Japanese sweets, treats and snacks. Today we’re going to show you 6 Dagashi snacks that you should try today. Of course, there are hundreds to try in total but here are just 6 of the best to whet your appetite for your next visit. Bring the children of course, after all these sweets were intended for them in the first place. Take out your change and enjoy these cheap culturally iconic snacks. 1.Umaibou We are starting off with a personal favourite of mine. Umaibou is a stick which resembles a large cheese puff...
Yatai Food in Osaka - Top Spots
Welcome to the city of Osaka, Japan’s kitchen as some say. It is without a doubt the food capital of Japan hosting some of the best fish in the entire world. They have a variety of food from every region of Japan represented in all their glory. It is one specific eating experience we are here to talk about today, though, street food or Yatai. You may think that it’s something you already know about but there’s no better place in the world for it than Osaka. Here’s how to enjoy the best of the best of Japanese street food...
Top Monja-Yaki Restaurants near Tsukiji
Welcome to the wonderful world of Monjayaki. We’re going to delve right into this Japanese speciality dish that many of us in the western world haven’t heard of let alone tried. But, when looking through these spots we can guarantee you will want to try this beautiful thing and tell your friends about it. So, look no further and take a look at the three best places below to eat Monjayaki. What is Monjayaki? First of all we must first explain exactly what Monjayaki is. It can be simply explained by saying it’s a multi ingredient pan fried batter of...
Top Izakaya Chains in Japan
When you are looking for a place to drink in Japan it’s often recommended that you go to an Izakaya and that is for a good reason – they are brilliant for having food and drink whilst either socialising or having a date with your significant other or even if you feel like an escape on your own. But where do you start? Well, we’ve got you covered on that part. Here we are going to show you 5 of the best Izakaya chains in the whole of Japan and these chains vary in the kind of atmosphere you may...