If you have never eaten monjayaki before I highly suggest you view the notes following the recipe first. It’s an unusual dish not for the unadventurous. Variations on the basic recipe are found in a different post titled “Monjayaki Variations”.
Click here to jump to the notes.
Click here to see variations on this recipe.
Serves: One to two per batch (if more people multiple batches cooked sequentially is ideal)
A griddle or large skillet (NOT non-stick, though a nearly unscratcheable non-stick coating such as ceramic is acceptable)
Tablespoon (3 ideally)
A measuring cup that measures up to one cup
2 large, metal spatulas
1 monja spatula per diner
A whisk and spoon or a fork
OPTIONAL: one or two wooden or bamboo chopsticks per diner
1 cup dashi, other broth, or water (if using HonDashi 2/5 tsp per cup of water)
3 tbsp any flour (add more for a thicker monja; my family advocates rice flour)
3 tbsp katsu sauce (if you can’t find katsu sauce a rough mixture of half soy sauce, half Worcestershire sauce will work, though it’s not as good)
~1.5 cups shredded cabbage (more if you’re having trouble with the “doughnut”)
~1 tsp oil (such as olive oil or canola oil)
Highly Suggested Additions:
Sliced green onions
Thinly sliced beef seasoned with salt and pepper
1. Combine flour, broth/water and katsu sauce in a bowl using a whisk or fork.
2. Add cabbage to bowl and place preferred bowl toppings on top. Set aside.
3. Heat oil and skillet or griddle over medium to medium-high heat.
4. If using meat begin cooking when oil is hot. Cook roughly halfway through, flipping in the middle, and then move to the side (where it will likely continue cooking).
5. Add cabbage and toppings to the griddle, being careful not to spill too much of the liquid. The steam will be hot! Be careful!
6. Using your two large spatulas chop and mix the ingredients on the griddle together for about a minute, or until the cabbage begins to brown. (I have been advised that the longer you cook the cabbage the easier the next step will be.)
7. Turn your cabbage mixture into a doughnut shape so that there is a hole or trough in the middle. Try to make the walls of the structure as circular and thick as possible so that liquid added to the middle can’t escape.
8. Quickly re-mix the remaining broth/water mixture in you bowl before pouring about a third to a half slowly into the center of your cabbage circle. If liquid begins to escape from the edges use your spatulas to corral it as best you can, repairing the walls as necessary.
9. As broth/water mixture begins to darken stir slightly with your spoon or fork. Slowly add more broth/water mixture until the bowl’s entire contents has been poured onto the griddle.
10. Wait until broth darkens from light tan to a deeper brown (occasionally stirring), about 45 seconds to 1 minute.
11. Mix cabbage, broth mixture and meat (if using) together with your two large spatulas similar to the process at the beginning for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
12. Spread mixture evenly across skillet or griddle so that it is roughly half an inch thick.
13. If using a final topping sprinkle it across the top now.
14. Wait about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Turn down heat to medium-low or low.
15. Eat directly from the griddle/skillet using monja spatula. Assist with chopsticks if needed.
I know I promised that this website will have an absolute minimum of stories, but if you have never had monjayaki before (or have only seen it on anime) it requires a little bit of explanation. Monjayaki (moan-ja-ya-key) or monja (moan-ja) for short is a runny, savory cabbage pancake eaten hot off a griddle. This may sound highly unappetizing, which isn’t helped by monja’s rather… unsavory appearance, but it is actually quite tasty and very popular in Tokyo. Preparation is easy but actually cooking monja is not intuitive. To help make up for this I have included below a picture and video guide to making monjayaki. It should be noted that monja can be prepared in a skillet or on a griddle but a normal non-stick skillet or griddle should NOT be used. Monja preparation can be slightly violent, and will scratch the surface. I get around this by using a griddle with a ceramic surface, which does get scratched but doesn’t put toxic non-stick coating in my food.
Monjayaki is also a dish of great variety. I have listed above what I consider to be the most basic of monja recipes, but I rarely make it with just those ingredients. For this reason I’ve also included a number of variations in a separate post I have personally tested and approve of, though monja was practically made for variety so feel free to experiment.
Monjayaki is a great meal for sharing, though a single batch probably won’t fill the whole party. The best way to feed more people is simply to make several batches on monja in a row. This has the added advantage that you can have multiple types of monja in a single meal. You might start the night with a three-cheese bacon mochi monja, move on to a seafood mix, and finish it off with curry monja. The crunchy bits left on the griddle are particularly tasty and I often find myself fighting with my family over them. I have also been advised that monja is best consumed with Japanese beer.
If you don’t want to scroll all the way through my photo guide below and just want to jump straight to the monja cooking video click HERE.
Detailed Monjayaki Preparation Instructions
This is a monjayaki spatula, used for eating monja directly off the skillet or griddle. They are the optimal tool for eating monja, though a fork might be usable. You are very unlikely to find these for sale outside of Japan, but you can usually order some online.
Flour, katsu sauce and broth (I use dashi, a type of fish broth) after it has been mixed in the bowl. This color will darken as the contents settle to the bottom and will need to be re-mixed before pouring on the griddle or skillet.
Moving the beef to the side to start cooking the monja. On my griddle that portion of the griddle is particularly cool, which stops the beef from burning while still keeping it warm. Know your equipment- it might be better in your kitchen to cook the meat less before starting the monja so that your meat doesn’t burn, or to remove it from the cooking surface entirely.
This is a video of the process for cooking monjayaki.