Takoyaki

Takoyaki is a ball-shaped Japanese dumpling that’s so good even a planet was named after it. I wanted to recreate this popular street snack ever since I visited Osaka and Kyoto a couple of years ago. It’s been a while but I just can’t forget tasty foods. I can forget my own phone number but not delicious things. It kind of tells you where I set my priorities.

I got around to make some pretty damn good Okonomiyaki last year which is another specialty from this area of Japan but this was next on my to-do list. Takoyaki is usually filled with octopus, pickled ginger and green onion and served with kewpie mayonnaise and a sweeter and thicker version of Worcestershire sauce. It’s finished with a very generous sprinkling of ao-nori and dried bonito flakes. Delicious! It’s also open to many variations so feel free to experiment a little with the technique.

Now, of course, the reason it took me so long to make this recipe is because I had to source a Takoyaki pan, but with the magic of the internet it was easily done. There’s also an electric Takoyaki pan if you want to make your life easier. The rest of the ingredients can be found in Japanese supermarkets or ordered online.

Oh, and yes, there’s the octopus. I’ve made some sous-vide octopus recently that was very good but if you want to save some time and have access to a Japanese market you could buy it already cooked. Or substitute it for let’s say… shrimp. Less traditional but I’m sure it would be equally delicious.

There’s also the “getting the hang of it” factor of making Takoyaki. You see, you’re trying to form a ball with a batter that has the consistency of a crêpe batter so timing is important, and so is regulating the source of heat (I did put my Takoyaki pan on top of a heat diffuser to get more even results) but overall it was easy and fun to make.

What you do is filling those holes to the top with batter and letting them cook until the batter is set at the bottom but still wet in the middle. Then, using a pick you turn the dumplings to a 90 degree angle so gravity does its part of pulling the liquid center to the bottom. After rotating a few time and filling the little gaps with more batter you’ll obtain perfect spheres with a creamy center and octopus, ginger and green onions trapped inside. Now you can’t say that doesn’t sound good. Enjoy!

  • Takoyaki

    • Serves 6
    • Takoyaki batter:
    • 1 cup cake flour
    • 1 large egg
    • 2 cups dashi, cold
    • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
    • 1 teaspoon Mirin
    • Fillings:
    • 1 cup diced cooked octopus (or shrimp..)
    • Tempura scraps (optional)
    • 4 green onions, sliced
    • 1/4 cup red pickled ginger (Beni shōga)
    • Finish:
    • Kewpie mayonnaise
    • Takoyaki sauce
    • Ao-nori
    • Bonito flakes
    • Red pickled ginger
    • Takoyaki batter:
    • Follow this link to make dashi.  You’ll need kombu and bonito flakes.
    • Start with ice cold dashi. It helps keeping the batter light.
    • Combine the egg, the dashi, the soy sauce and  mirin in a measuring cup.
    • Place the flour in a bowl and pour in the dashi mixture and mix lightly until incorporated. Do not over mix!
    • Cook the Takoyaki:
    • Place the takoyaki pan over a heat diffuser if possible, and set over medium heat.
    • Brush each hole with a neutral oil (I use grapeseed) to keep the takoyaki from sticking to the pan.
    • Pour the batter to the top of each hole. It’s okay to overfill them a little.
    • Immediately place a few pieces of octopus, tempura scraps (if using), sliced green onions and red pickled ginger in the batter, and keep cooking over medium heat.
    • Check that the batter is set at the bottom with a pick. When they come off easily but the center is still wet turn them to a 90′ angle so the liquid part slides to the bottom. Add a little more batter to fill any holes. And keep turning the takoyaki every few minutes, until you obtain perfect spheres.
    • Takoyaki are ready when the outside is golden brown and the inside still creamy.
    • Finishing:
    • Place the takoyaki on a serving platter while still hot and top with takoyaki sauce, kewpie mayonnaise, ao-nori, red pickled ginger and bonito flakes. Serve immediately.

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  • kitchenriffs

    Gorgeous looking dish. And one that’s new to me. Interesting cooking technique – I’m trying to wrap my head around the idea of turning a ball of dough that’s partly cooked solid and still part liquid 90 degrees! You’re just moving the cooked part so it stands straight up, and gravity takes care of the liquid, yes? Really cool – thanks.

  • Gomo cHowDivine

    I love Japanese food, but I’ve never tried these. These sound and look so good. And your photos are amazing!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Peter-Minaki/560410552 Peter Minaki

    Stephane, this is tremendous. The Izakaya bars here in Toronto make these and we always order them, Delish, bravo!

  • zenchef

    Thanks. That’s absolutely right. It’s quite an unusual cooking technique but it works.

  • zenchef

    Thank you so much. I’m sure you will love those.

  • zenchef

    Thanks, Peter! I knew those were right up your alley.

  • http://twitter.com/fridgg Allison Day

    Oh my goodness, now I really need to get my hands on a takoyaki pan. Until then, it’s a good thing we have a decent takoyaki place nearby, so this craving won’t go unsatisfied for too long! ;D

  • Ned

    These look amazing. Other than the filling, they look similar to an ebleskiver (or however those Danish pancakes are known).

  • Mary

    Brilliant. And very beautiful as well.

  • Ron T

    Awesome! One of my fave dishes, you might have inspired me to try making it.

  • monicalups

    I second your comment.. and I look forward to kitchen disasters/adventures trying it out :-)

  • http://twitter.com/TheUrbanMrs Linda

    I love this takoyaki and you captured it so beautifully!

  • zenchef

    haha.. it’s not as scary as it sounds. :)

  • zenchef

    You’re lucky! They’re not as easy to find in NY ( I can think of one place that makes them) but they’re so rewarding to make at home.

  • zenchef

    That’s right! Actually I think you could the Danish pancakes pan to make those.

  • zenchef

    Thank you, Mary.

  • zenchef

    Thanks, Ron. Go for it!

  • zenchef

    I love it too. Thanks, Linda.

  • http://www.nomnomfoodie.com/ TheNomNomFoodie

    Love the post! My wife and I love takoyaki and have been making it at home for a few years. The cooking technique is tricky when it comes time to spin the balls around to get the other side crisped up. Whenever I see takoyaki stands in Japan with the chefs cooking these by the hundred it amazes me how precise and easy their movements are. Years of practice!

  • zenchef

    I was mesmerized too watching the takoyaki street vendors in Osaka. It does take quite a bit of practice but it’s worth the effort I think. :)

  • Stephala

    I am SO impressed! I’ve only had these delicious treats in Shanghai but for years I’ve searched for a Boston area restaurant that serves them, to no avail. Thank you for your recipe!

    https://stephsapartmentkitchen.wordpress.com/

  • http://www.facebook.com/chrisjchang Chris Chang

    AHHHHHHH! OH my freaking goodness! Takoyaki!! I’ve been wanting to visit Japan someday to try this. Your pictures and recipe make me want it more! It looks amazing! And so delicious and I’m hungry right now so it’s not helping….

  • zenchef

    One of my favorite snack food! :) You gotta try it.

  • zenchef

    Yes, they can be a little hard to find in the US so I figured out the best way was to make it myself. :)

  • http://www.vodkitchen.com Jon @ vodkitchen

    Loved eating these in Osaka!

  • zenchef

    The best place on earth to have them. :)