Hiroshima's okonomiyaki association creates unique menu recipes for G-7

Hiroshima's okonomiyaki association creates unique menu recipes for G-7

A local association here has created new okonomiyaki recipes that add layers of each country's flavors to the local Hiroshima cuisine to welcome the world's leaders ahead of the Group of Seven summit in May.

As Hiroshima prepares to host the G-7 summit between the leaders of France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Italy and Canada, restaurant workers and others affiliated with the okonomiyaki industry, the local meal will be served to guests from overseas.

The Oconomiyaki Academy, a general incorporated foundation in Hiroshima's Nishi Ward, is involved in research and efforts to spread okonomiyaki, a savory pancake with layers of batter, cabbage, meat, eggs, and other ingredients. While kansai-style okonomiyaki, commonly eaten throughout Japan, mixes the batter and ingredients together before cooking it on the griddle, the Hiroshima style is created by spreading the ingredients in layers while the batter is cooked like a thin crepe. Hiroshima okonomiyaki are known to be very filling because they typically include soba noodles. okonomiyaki can also be filled with other optional items like seafood based on customers' preferences, so okonomiyaki can be cooked how you like it.

The association has developed different versions of okonomiyaki that incorporate the food culture of each G-7 member country, with some taking hints from hamburgers and pizza. The dishes were unveiled to the press in the city on February 20, and the recipes are set to be used in okonomiyaki eateries across Hiroshima.

The recipes were created by the Oconomiyaki Academy'sOconomiyaki Academy's Team Oko-novation, which was formed in November 2022 to spread Hiroshima's okonomiyaki culture to the world. The team carried out an online questionnaire targeting overseas students at Hiroshima University and foreign residents to study the food culture and representative dishes of the G-7 countries. Two to three recipes have been tested out per country since December, and were completed in January 2023, based on these results. They were hybrid mix of okonomiyaki and the dishes of each country by putting a twist on ingredients and sauce toppings.

Kazuharu Kawamoto, 45, and others at the Oconomiyaki Academy who were involved in the project, aimed to find similarities between the food of Hiroshima and the G-7 countries. For example, the America-yaki sandwiched a small okonomiyaki between buns, took inspiration from how the multi-layered style of Hiroshima's okonomiyaki resembles the sandwich culture of the U.S.

The English-yaki was topped with fish and chips, while the German-yaki mixed potatoes with other ingredients. Both of the food are said to have filled the bellies of hungry residents in the face of food shortages and the 18th century Industrial Revolution. Kawamoto said this is a similar story to the history of okonomiyaki, which satisfied the stomachs of Hiroshima's people amid the devastation of the postwar era. Some countries' ingredients don't meshed well with okonomiyaki. The Canadian-yaki was created by cooking layers of batter and apples before topping it with maple syrup and okonomiyaki sauce. Kawamoto revealed that it was hard to approach. I was hesitant, thinking, is it OK for okonomiyaki to become a sweet dessert? The association is going to offer menu items in summit-related events and is encouraging its 250 member eateries to create their own original variations based on the recipes.

At the press unveiling event on February 20, Oconomiyaki Academy Representative Director Shigeki Sasaki expressed his wish for the new dishes to be eaten by the leaders of each G-7 country, and said: Ingredients can be added and subtracted from okonomiyaki, and it is a food that can accommodate international diversity. It's a murky age, but I want to spread Hiroshima's okonomiyaki around the world, with messages of peace, on the occasion of the summit.