Takoyaki is a type of Japanese street food originally from the city of Osaka. They are small, round balls of batter that are mildly crunchy on the exterior but soft on the inside. Tomekichi Endo, a Japanese man from Osaka, made these fried octopus balls popular in the 1930s.
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Takoyaki balls consist of pre-cooked octopus, tempura batter, and green onions. Sounds amazing, right?
Most of the time, they are served in wooden boats with takoyaki sauce and Japanese mayonnaise. Furthermore, the dried bonito flakes and seaweed on the top of the takoyaki give it a unique taste. You can pick them up with the chopsticks that come with them.
Takoyaki is a renowned Japanese cuisine that is part of the street food culture. Because takoyaki is too hot, you’ll see people fanning their mouths to cool off while eating it. Additionally, Takoyaki is a comfort food also available in most Japanese restaurants.
What Are the Contents of Takoyaki?
While takoyaki typically contains octopus ball filling, you can also find takoyaki recipes with fish, mushrooms, and shrimp. Takoyaki isn’t just street food; it is becoming more popular in Japanese restaurants and Asian convenience stores worldwide.
The traditional takoyaki is different in size, how crisp they are, and how the batter inside them feels. They are usually between 1 and 2 inches wide, depending on where you purchase them. Moreover, the takoyaki balls are prepared in a special cast iron takoyaki pan with semicircles.
The ingredients for takoyaki are simple and easy to find in Asian grocery stores. You can buy premade takoyaki powder if you have limited time to cook.
This recipe calls for dashi powder, powdered seaweed, and all-purpose flour. But, if you prefer traditional methods, you will also need rice flour, eggs, soy sauce, and baking powder. However, the main ingredients in an authentic takoyaki include:
- Pre-cooked octopus: Cooked octopus is at the center of this takoyaki recipe. Octopus can be hard to prepare because it can be plump if cooked incorrectly. However, in your local store’s sushi section, you can find a boiled octopus cooked just right, saving you time. Or you could also use fried octopus if you prefer.
- Pickled Red Ginger: Most of the time, Japanese red pickled ginger comes in different hues of pink, and either perilla leaves or food coloring causes this effect. In addition, you’ll have to mince it up to put it in the takoyaki.
- Green onions: Green onions make the food look more flavorful and tasty.
- Tenkasu: Tenkasu is pieces of tempura in packages, which is better than creating tempura batter and frying small amounts in a deep fryer. Tenkasu gives the moist center of the takoyaki a nice texture. In addition, you can also use tempura scraps to give takoyaki balls a richer flavor, crispness, and creaminess.
Toppings for Takoyaki
The best thing about takoyaki is the vast number of garnishes you can comfortably use. If a battered octopus takoyaki ball isn’t tasty enough, you can add classical toppings like takoyaki sauce, kewpie mayo, and aonori. But you can add more than that. Here are some of the garnishes you can put on your takoyaki balls.
- Takoyaki sauce: The takoyaki sauce is a murky sauce that is naturally sweet and similar to a milder Worcestershire sauce. It’s brimming with various savory flavorings like veggies, soy sauce, bonito flakes, and much more.
- Kewpie mayo: Kewpie mayo is a Japanese mayo that tastes eggier and a little sweeter than traditional mayonnaise from the West. However, make sure you buy the Japanese version of Kewpie since you can now find many American versions in grocery stores.
- Katsuobushi: Dried bonito flakes are also called katsuobushi. These thin strips of grilled fish move on the takoyaki before you eat them.
- Aonori: Also called “Green laver,” powdered dried seaweed is perfect for Takoyaki.
- Kizami: Kizami is shredded, roasted nori seaweed strips that are great for toppings.
How to make the Takoyaki Batter
The batter is an important ingredient when making takoyaki. Making the batter is a simple step-by-step process. Combining dashi, eggs, all-purpose flour, rice flour, soy sauce, and baking soda is necessary. Not many recipes call for rice flour, but it’s essential if you want the outside to be crispy and not get mushy after you take it out of the pan. Making the batter at home prevents you from eating chemical additives in store-bought mixes. Besides, you still have to add your eggs, water, Japanese octopus balls, and green onions as your fillings.
Do You Need a Takoyaki Pan to Make Takoyaki?
Most of the time, takoyaki are made in special pans with many half circles made of ductile iron and non-stick materials. You can also buy a simple pan or an electric takoyaki maker that heats itself.
Furthermore, you can also use an aebleskiver pan to make takoyaki, but you have to be careful about timing because the aebleskiver pan is usually bigger. Regardless of your pan choice, you’ll need to change the cooking time because the size will differ.
Because these ingredients produce a very runny and wet batter, making takoyaki without a pan may be difficult. But some deep-fried takoyaki is probably made with no need for a pan. Most likely, the batter is frozen a little bit to make it firmer so it can be balls. Thus, it would help if you deep-fried them before they melted. Traditional cast-iron takoyaki pans are the best since they make the outside of the takoyaki golden and crisp.
Tips for First-Time Takoyaki Success
- If you’re using a takoyaki pan made of cast iron, move it around so it heats evenly to ensure the takoyaki mix cooks evenly. If you use a rectangular pan on a circular stove, you’ll have to keep moving the pan around while the takoyaki balls are frying to ensure even cooking.
- The first pour should fill the takoyaki molds to about 80 percent when making takoyaki. Since baking powder is in the mixture, it will spread out on the pan after a minute. Additionally, you will also need to fill in the spaces so that it doesn’t spill over.
- When you see bubbles in the batter, you know it’s time to add the fillings. However, adding the filling too early risks sinking the bottom and burning. If you want the best snack cuisine, use a good amount of batter.
- Usually, Takoyaki vendors overfill their grills and stuff the leftover extras into the balls to make them round. When the edges of the takoyaki start to turn golden, turn them over. Leave a small space in the center of the takoyaki balls to add more batter.
- Fill the pan to the edges since you can fold extra batter into the balls as you turn them. Move the balls around the pan once they have been lightly grilled and can hold their shape. Interestingly, many takoyaki pans used at home don’t heat evenly, so moving them around will help them brown.
- Keep turning the takoyaki until the outside is nice and crisp and they are ready for the takoyaki parties. Then you can put them in a hot pot and later serve them with oyster sauce.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Is takoyaki spongy?
No, takoyaki is meant to be crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.
- What does takoyaki mean in English?
Takoyaki is a Japanese delicacy that looks like small, round balls and has pieces of octopus inside. Tako-yaki means “fried octopus” in Japanese, but some call it grilled octopus balls or dumplings.
- Are the bonito flakes alive?
The bonito flakes tend to move because they are thin and lightweight, and are not alive, though. Grating dried bonito fish creates bonito flakes. It is due to their thinness that dried bonito flakes tend to move around when the food they sit on moves or gets hot.
This recipe will take 50 minutes altogether and make 20 servings.
Takoyaki Recipe (Japanese Octopus Balls)
- Electric takoyaki pan/ takoyaki grill pan
- Squeeze bottles
- Takoyaki pin stick
Ingredients for Takoyaki Batter
- 5 grams of baking powder
- 60 grams of multi-purpose baking flour
- 65 grams of rice flour
- 1 ounce of soy sauce
- Two eggs
- 2 grams of dashi powder
- 12 fl oz warm water
Ingredients for The Fillings
- 3 ounces of cooked octopus cut into quarter pieces
- 10 grams of minced pickled ginger
- 13.5 grams of tenkasu
- Two stalks of green onion
- Vegetable oil
Ingredients for Toppings
- Japanese mayo preferably Kewpie mayo
- Kizami nori shreds
- Japanese Bonito flakes
- Aonori green seaweed
- Takoyaki sauce
- Shredded cheese
- Heat the water over medium heat until it's at least 100°F. Add the dashi powder and stir until it is completely dissolved. In a large mixing bowl, stir the eggs and soy sauce into the dashi and mix well.
- Mix the multi-purpose flour, rice flour, and baking powder in a large bowl. Skim the flour mixture into the wet ones and stir until there are no granules.
- Fill a squeeze bottle with the batter. The squeeze bottle makes it simple to add batter to the cast iron pans without dripping.
- Put the takoyaki pan on the stove over medium heat to get it ready while adding vegetable oil to the cast iron pan.
- Using the squeeze bottle, fill each dip to about three-quarters full with the batter. Be careful to put only a little.
- Simmer for a little while. A minute or two is enough until the batter starts to fizz. Simmering will keep the fillings in the middle and stop them from falling to the bottom. Put a small amount of each filler through every takoyaki ball.
- Using the stick, pull the first Japanese octopus ball away from the sides and turn it 3/4 of the way. Please make a small hole in the takoyaki, about 1/8 inch. You will use this hole to fill the takoyaki with crispy batter later.
- Sprinkle more batter over the whole pan and into the empty spots. Keep cooking till the batter bubbles.
- If the batter bubbles, turn the takoyaki with a stick. Use a chopstick to move the batter around each half-circle and form balls.
- Grill the balls until the outsides are golden brown and crunchy. All of the takoyaki should be 200 °F on the inside.
- Take the balls off the stick and garnish them with takoyaki sauce, some mayonnaise, seaweed strips, and dried bonito flakes. You can serve as soon as they are ready.
Takoyaki is quickly gaining popularity in communities, with many people eager to try Japanese cuisine. The meal is simple to prepare thanks to a simple batter recipe. A takoyaki plate is not only filling but also worthwhile to try. The ingredients are also easily accessible, with wheat flour, spring onion, and plain flour readily available. A properly mixed takoyaki recipe ensures a piping hot takoyaki plate. You can also serve the meal with tonkatsu sauce or okonomiyaki sauce instead of takoyaki sauce. If you enjoy takoyaki and want to make some at home, feel free to use our recipe.