This post is part of the series: LET’S OM NOM Cooks Edmonton Cooks: Signature Recipes From the City’s Best Chefs. You can see the recipe list here or follow chronologically here.
I love Japanese food so it’s no surprise that I’m making the second recipe provided by Izakaya Tomo in Edmonton Cooks. Like the Udon Carbonara recipe, this one is easily divided into individual portions and is super easy to make.
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Pork Shoulder
- Green Cabbage
- Japanese Mayonnaise
- Bonito Flakes
Pork Shoulder from ACME Meat Market; Sake, Japanese Mayonnaise (Kewpie Mayo), Bonito Flakes from T&T Supermarket or Lucky 97 or Superstore (Asian aisle).
Tonpei Yaki (or tonpeiyaki) is a Japanese dish popular in izakaya and okonomiyaki houses. I sadly didn’t order the dish while in it’s originating region of Kansai and opted for its heftier cousin okonomiyaki instead. All the more reason why I need to go back to Osaka! Tonpeiyaki is usually ordered as an appetizer before ordering okonomiyaki, lighter and a teaser to the main course, but quite similar in flavours. The difference between the two dishes: tonpeiyaki isn’t flour-based (making it gluten-free!). If I had to describe tonpeiyaki in other terms, it’s an omelette with sliced pork and cabbage, drizzled with okonomiyaki sauce, mayo, and garnished with green onions or bonito flakes.
And not any kind of regular mayonnaise. I’ve learned from past Japanese recipes that Kewpie mayonnaise is essential. In fact, I don’t even have regular mayonnaise in my fridge anymore. Japanese mayonnaise is made from only egg yolks (vs. whole eggs) and rice vinegar, is richer, thicker and slightly sweeter than the American variety. You can substitute American mayo with a tweak or two but to be honest, just buy the Kewpie mayo. It’s amazing.
Bonito flakes (or katsuobushi) is dried, fermented and smoked skipjack tuna. Like the Japanese mayonnaise, this ingredient is so often used in Japanese cooking that I’ve learned to just keep in my pantry at all times. It’s an umami-bomb. Plus it dances when you blow on it, making any dish more visually appealing.
To make the okonomiyaki sauce: mix ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and honey. I’ve seen other variations that add in soy sauce or oyster sauce but this recipe by far has been my favourite. So simple.
The recipe calls for the pork shoulder to be sliced thinly into strips and stir-fried and set aside. Shredded cabbage gets thrown into the same pan and seasoned with salt and pepper before wilting it down in sake.
In a non-stick pan, whisked eggs create a base. While the eggs set, portion out the mixture of pork and cabbage and add to the pan. While the eggs are slightly wet, roll the eggs like an omelette and plate. Repeat until all eggs and pork and cabbage mixture is used.
For serving, drizzle each roll with okonomiyaki sauce, Japanese mayonnaise, and sprinkle bonito flakes. Tada!
I’m convinced that okonomiyaki sauce, Japanese mayonnaise, and bonito flakes can turn anything into magic. The recipe is so ridiculously simple and so good! I’ve never actually tried the dish at Izakaya Tomo so I can’t comment on how closely I replicated it. Does it matter? It was delicious. And technically, it’s an omelette. Ergo, you can eat it for breakfast.
If I had a griddle, I think I would have gotten more crispy bits and more char on the cabbage. Then it would be a true “yaki” dish, the word meaning to grill in Japanese. I also would want to freeze my pork shoulder for an hour or two so I could slice it paper thin with a knife. Texturally it would help the dish. Some other variations include the use of dashi (broth made of bonito flakes and kombu or seaweed) instead of sake. It would be interesting to try a broth or even a combination of dashi and sake.
I’m also glad I grabbed small squeeze bottles the last time I was at a kitchen supply store. For less than a dollar, I had more control for drizzling the okonomiyaki sauce and mayo. It’s fun, what can I say. I ended up adding more bonito flakes on the dish afterwards. I should have loaded it up before taking photos. A sprinkle of togarashi or nori (dried seaweed) would give some more colour too.
I can cross off another Edmonton Cooks recipe off the list! Thanks Izakaya Tomo!
3 thoughts on “Edmonton Cooks: Tonpei Yaki (Izakaya Tomo)”
I look forward to seeing you cook your way through the rest of the book. Your photography is excellent! I just picked up a copy of the book myself, and it’s reassuring to read that based on your experience, the recipes so far have been delicious as advertised.
I used pork meat for shabu shabu and it worked pretty well.
Wonderful site and beautiful food. I must try this recipe. Great Work.