Okonomiyaki, or Japanese-style pancakes as it’s sometimes referred to, is a mix of savoury ingredients (fish, meat and vegetables) cooked in batter.
You can eat okonomiyaki while pregnant, but be careful that the other mixed-in ingredients and toppings are all safe to eat while pregnant. Seafood, for example, should be avoided. Vegetable okonomiyaki, however, would be perfectly fine for a pregnant woman to eat.
Is there something in okonomiyaki I should avoid?
Okonomiyaki is an extremely popular shallow-fried dish made of batter (okonomiyaki flour, water, egg) and cabbage. There are a variety of ingredients added into the batter or used as toppings. Some examples are meat, wasabi, different cheeses and seafood.
This variety of ingredients is expressed in the name of the dish: “okonomi” can be translated as “to one’s liking”, while “yaki” means dish.
This traditional Japanese dish is eaten all over Japan, but tends to be consumed the most in Hiroshima and Osaka.
Despite the association with pancake, the batter of okonomiyaki is very different to American pancakes, and is notable not fluffy or sweet.
In fact, it is often very savory and contains strong flavors from ingredients like octopus, kimchi or shrimp. In terms of the flavor palette and texture, it’s best to think of okonomiyaki as resembling a pizza rather than a pancake
In Japan, it’s common to eat okonomiyaki at restaurants that specialize in serving the dish. Some of these restaurants have what’s called a “teppan” which is a kind of griddle.
This griddle, along with ingredients provided by the servers, allows customers to cook the okonomiyaki themselves.
I’ve also written about what to avoid when pregnant and eating at a teppanyaki table that might help.
Recipes for okonomiyaki are fairly simple, but outside of Japan you will have to source the special flour and potentially other ingredients from your nearest Asian foods shop.
Fortunately, the “to one’s liking” aspect means you can adapt the recipe based on what’s available to you.
Safe Okonomiyaki Options While Pregnant
If you’re pregnant and want to try eating okonomiyaki, make sure you avoid certain high-risk foods that might be added to the dish.
This includes seafood like swordfish, marlin, shark and raw shellfish, raw meats, liver and cured meats.
If you want to have a cheese topping, avoid any blue cheese, mould-ripened cheese or unpasteurised cheese.
As for the batter – especially if you’re cooking it yourself – make sure it’s completely cooked through and there’s no risk of raw egg being present.
Every month new cooking tips in your email?
Japanese recipes, cooking tips and more with the first email our FREE mini-recipe guide "Japanese with ease"
And also read about what to avoid when pregnant and going out for sushi