So you’re wanting some iconic Osaka street food. Good news? You don’t need to go to Osaka to eat perfect Takoyaki! You can make it easily at home. Read on to find all you need to know about these crispy yet melt in your mouth battered and fried balls of octopus.
What is Takoyaki ??
Tako means octopus and yaki means grill or fry (as explained in these Japanese food terms), though, it is not just grilled octopus. They are round in shape and made from a batter of flour, egg and dashi stock with octopus and other ingredients as fillings. They are also round because they are cooked in a special pan.
Takoyaki is also usually classified as “Konamono (flour things)” along with Okonomiyaki because they are both cooked with flour (“Kona” in Japanese) batter.
Ingredients for Takoyaki:
You can certainly use all purpose flour(protein content around 11%) mix adding baking powder and mix with Dashi stock. Though because it is so popular, you can purchase special Takoyaki Mix Flour (protein content is around 11%). They are available from Japanese grocery stores and online.
Ideally, starting with raw octopus, parboiling it quickly so it is about 80% cooked and the cooking process finishes inside the Takoyaki itself. This is because overcooked octopus can become a bit chewy.
However, I usually buy ready-cooked octopus from the local supermarket. Then cut it really chunky so that the pieces will not be overcooked inside the Takoyaki balls. (Step by step photo 1 and 2)
You may be wondering what the Tenkasu is. Tenkasu is the crunchy bits of deep-fried batter produced as a by-product of Tempura. Adding tenkasu gives depth of flavor. You can make tenkasu or keep the tenkasu when you make Tempura. Or because it is often used for other dishes like Okonomiyaki and Udon noodle salad, you can purchase a packet from Japanese grocery stores or online.
Red pickled ginger & Chopped scallions
This ginger, known as “Beni-Shoga” in Japan and chopped scallions are added for more color and also adds a tangy refreshing taste when you bite into them. Red Pickled Ginger is available from Japanese grocery stores or online.
These octopus balls are usually dressed with a special Takoyaki Sauce which is similar to Okonomiyaki sauce. It has a sweet fruity flavor but is mellower than Okonomiyaki sauce. It is also often dressed with Japanese mayonnaise. I recommend the “Otafuku” brand, and they should be available from Japanese grocery stores. If you can’t get your hands on it, you can purchase it online, or make a homemade sauce that I have included in the recipe card.
Usually, Takoyaki is topped with bonito flakes and seaweed flakes. Those toppings are all readily available in Japan. Outside of Japan, any Asian or Japanese grocery stores should stock them. You can eat them without those toppings but I always feel like something is missing and the taste and flavor is incomplete when I run out of those toppings.
Special Equipment you need
- Takoyaki-Pan – A special pan to make the cute round ball shape. Usually, they make either eight or sixteen balls at a time. There are electric pans, Cassette gas takoyaki device and also Takoyaki cast iron grill pan .
- Takoyaki oil brush – This special brush perfectly fits the holes of the takoyaki pan in order to grease and distribute the oil evenly in each hole. If you don’t have it, just scrunched kitchen paper towel will do the job. (step by step photo 9)
- Takoyaki pick – It is a little bit like an ice pick with a tiny flat end which will enable you to grip the edge of the balls and make it easier to turn the balls. You don’t need to purchase it, bamboo skewers will do the job.
Tip to flip the balls in the pan
Have you ever seen how takoyaki is made? You don’t need to be a chef to make this but there are some skills and practice required. The most important part is to flip the takoyaki while the batter is half cooked so that the batter can run down to the bottom of the pan when the ball is flipped to create a sphere shape. That way all the fillings will go into the middle of the ball and not sit at the top of one side. (Step by step photo )
Q: Do I need the special takoyaki pan?
A: Yes. Because the batter is runny, if you use a flat-surfaced frying pan, it will not make the sphere shape. Some Japanese grocery stores stock them Cassette gas takoyaki pan, electric takoyaki device or Takoyaki cast iron grill pan.
Also, they are available at online stores. Or I suggest using a dutch pancake pan instead. They are a little bit shallower than a Japanese takoyaki pan but it will at least make a round shape and will look like takoyaki.
Q: What can I substitute octopus with?
A: I suggest you try octopus first. All together they are really delicious. But if you really don’t like it, you can substitute with bacon bits, luncheon ham, squid, shrimp, fish cakes, cheese, mochi, and tofu, etc.
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- 1cup/100g flour *1
- 1 egg
- 1.25cup/300ml dashi stock *1
- 1.8oz/50g cooked octopus
- 1/4 cup of finely chopped scallions
- 1/4 cup Tenkasu
- 2 tbsp red pickled ginger
- 2 tbsp takoyaki sauce
- 1 tbsp Japanese mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp seaweed flake to top
- 2 tbsp bonito flake to top
- Combine water, egg and dashi stock together in a bowl and mix well until frothy.
- Sift the plain flour into a large bowl and add the liquid mixture over the flour.
- Whisk them together well until all the dry flour is completely mixed in.
- Heat the takoyaki pan and oil the holes with the oil brush. *2
- Pour the batter into the pan holes so they are approximately 80% full and then add the octopus, green onion, tempura crisps and pickled ginger .Then add more of the batter until it's just overflowing.
- Cook for approximately 1 & 1/2 minutes, then trim off the excess batter and flip them over by inserting the Takoyaki pick from 4 o'clock direction, turn your wrist 90°.
- Keep flipping them around until the takoyaki are a golden-brown color. *3
- When all balls outside are crispy golden brown, turn the heat off.
- Serve them on a plate and coat with the Takoyaki sauce and Japanese mayonnaise then sprinkle with aonori and bonito flakes to serve.
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