This post has been a long time coming. You see, I was in Osaka last July and had takoyaki several times in the few days I was there. I had it the first night on a bike tour, our guide Edd took us to what he said was the best takoyaki shop in Osaka. The next day, we were wandering around Dotonbori, a major shopping area in Osaka, had to try it again. The next day we went to a baseball game. More takoyaki. Takoyaki is considered a snack, street food. It’s very Japanese. And very good.
This past Christmas our dental clinic had a white elephant Christmas exchange. One of the gifts was a takoyaki kit. I got secretly excited when someone opened it and when it was my turn, I stole it. I was so happy that no one took it from me. With the holiday and a lot of other bad excuses, I didn’t get around to using it until a couple weeks ago. Then again last night.
I’ve tried a lot of Japanese food over the last year and a half. I didn’t know much about their cuisine quite honestly until I moved here. Some things I don’t know that I will ever care for. Takoyaki had me at the first (hot) bite. I crave it sometimes now and Matt definitely does. Takoyaki are best served warm; they are hot little dashi batter balls filled with toppings that make them gooey, chewy, savory, tangy, delicious.
Yuka, my Japanese coworker who had brought the takoyaki kit to the exchange, and I talked about what I should put in it. She helped me decide to add pickled ginger, cheese, and kimchi in addition to just the standard tako or boiled octopus. She sent me to the local grocery store with a list written in Japanese so they could help me find the ingredients. A couple of thoughts: I love the addition of pickled ginger, it gives the takoyaki so much flavor. Kimchi is a little spicy and delicious too.
Some important lessons in being a takoyaki master: I learned that oiling the pan really well is important. Also, when you are making takoyaki, after the first 90 degree rotation, add a little more batter to the other side to get a more round, full takoyaki that will be larger, more satisfying. I found a video that demonstrates what it looks like to make takoyaki. If you haven’t seen the takoyaki makers at work it could be a little difficult to imagine the process. Basically though, overflowing the wells is ok. Use your chopsticks to separate and turn the takoyaki. You do need a special takoyaki maker or an aebleskiver pan which you can easily find on Amazon. Last Christmas, I made apple aebleskivers so having a pan around is useful for a few delicious things.
It’s easy to make takoyaki look great and authentic by adding mayo, takoyaki sauce, bonito flakes and aonori or seaweed powder. It’s incredibly fun, delicious, and a great party food. As Yuka told me Japanese like to play a game where one takoyaki has chocolate is in the middle and whoever bites into it loses and has to drink. Just in case you’re feeling sassy.
- 3 eggs
- 4¼ cups cold water
- 2¾ cups flour
- ⅛ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon konbu dashi stock granules
- ½ teaspoon katsuo dashi stock granules
- 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
- Boiled octopus chunks, about ⅓ inch
- Cooked shrimp chunks, about ⅓ inch
- Tempura bits or rice krispies
- Cheese (cheddar or mozzarella)
- Green onion
- Pickled ginger
- Takoyaki sauce - you recognize it by the octopus on it
- Japanese mayonnaise (or American but Japanese is a little sweeter)
- Aonori (tiny seaweed flakes)
- Bonito (fish flakes)
- Beat the eggs and add the cold water, soy sauce and dashi granules.
- In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, and baking soda. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and whisk to remove lumps
- Heat up your pan and oil the individual compartments with a oil brush or use a paper towel dipped in oil.
- Pour the batter into the individual compartments up to the top. Don’t worry if the batter over flows a bit. Add green onions, octopus/shrimp/protein of choice, tempura bits, pickled ginger and cheese if desired.
- After a while, the bottom of the takoyakis will be cooked through. At this point, you can use a skewer or chopstick to turn them over 90 degrees. If you can’t turn the takoyaki easily, it probably needs to cook for a bit longer. Wait a minute or so and then do another 90 degree turn. The balls will become easier to turn the more they cook.
- The takoyaki are done when they’re lightly brown and crispy on the outside and they turn easily in their holes. Cooking time is around 10 minutes.
- To serve place several takoyaki on a plate, drizzle generously with Japanese mayonnaise and takoyaki sauce. Sprinkle bonito flakes and aonori. Give them a minute or two to cool but enjoy while warm.