Takoyaki is an iconic Japanese street food that you can make in your own home with this fail-proof recipe. Light, crispy outside with soft chewy centre, filled with boiled octopus, pickled ginger and topped with a variety of tasty toppings. These authentic, festival style takoyaki are totally addictive and perfect for parties or fun family dinners!
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What is Takoyaki?
Takoyaki is a type of Japanese street-food snack. It's a small dumpling, made from a thin batter and cooked in a special circular mold so that it becomes a round ball shape.
"Tako" (たこ) is the Japanese word for "octopus" and "yaki" (焼き) means to fry. In other words, takoyaki is a fried octopus ball.
It often contains other ingredients such as tenkasu (pieces of tempura batter) and benishoga (red pickled ginger) which add great taste and texture. It is then usually topped with a delicious Worcestershire sauce based sauce, mayonnaise, aonori (dried seaweed powder) and katsuobushi (bonito flakes). No wonder every bite is a taste sensation!
Although takoyaki is most commonly found at yatai (屋台) food stands during summer festivals and events, they can be found all year round in convenience stores, supermarkets and specialist takoyaki restaurants.
Where did Takoyaki come from?
Takoyaki first appeared in Osaka, Western Japan. It was created in the 1930's by a man called Tomekichi Endo, who opened a store called "Aizuya" (会津屋). Although this was the birthplace of takoyaki as we know it today, takoyaki started its journey as something quite different.
When Endo first opened Aizuya, he was selling a dumpling called "rajioyaki". This name was inspired by "radio", which was a new technology at the time and became a word often used to name new trendy items.
Rajioyaki (ラジオ焼き) was made from a wheat flour batter and filled with pickles, konjac and beef. Then, one day, a customer from the city of Akashi (about 1 hour west of Osaka) mentioned eating dumplings with octopus inside instead.
The dumpling that the customer was referring to was "Akashiyaki" (明石焼き), also known as tamagoyaki (卵焼き) to the locals. Akashiyaki is made from an egg batter and octopus, which is then dipped in a dashi broth before eating.
Endo switched from beef and konjac, to boiled octopus... and the rest is history!
Takoyaki batter is usually made with a few basic ingredients.
- Dashi broth
- Weak Flour (also known as cake flour)
- Tsuyu (or soy sauce)
Although the ratio of the ingredients vary from recipe to recipe, these are the fundamental elements of takoyaki batter. I like to use weak flour in my recipe so the batter becomes light and fluffy, my batter is also quite thin.
Actually, when families make takoyaki at home, they usually buy a "takoyaki kit" that contains takoyaki flour, tenkasu, aonori and benishoga. All you need to add is egg, water and octopus! You can buy this Takoyaki Kit on Amazon.
If you can't or don't want to use octopus, there's a number of other fillings you can use instead!
- Spring onion
Keep in mind that takoyaki doesn't take long to cook so your fillings should be precooked. (The octopus in takoyaki is always pre-boiled.)
Here are some of the most common sauces and toppings you can add to takoyaki!
- Takoyaki sauce (recipe below)
- Chopped spring onion
- Katsuobushi (bonito flakes)
- Aonori (dry seaweed powder)
- Ponzu (A soy based citrus sauce)
- Grated daikon radish
Unfortunately, in order to make takoyaki, you need a takoyaki pan (called takoyaki-ki タコ焼き機) in Japanese.
A takoyaki pan is basically a cooking mold made up of small hemispherical grooves. The batter is poured over the mold and then turned occasionally with skewers to achieve the ball shape.
It's not too difficult to find takoyaki pans online these days. You can buy them from places such as Dokodemo or Amazon. If you are buying electrical products, just be sure to contact the seller and ask about the plug and voltage to make sure it will work in your country.
I've also heard of people using Dutch Æbleskiver pans, I'm not sure how big they are but the shape looks perfect for making takoyaki.
Tips for making the perfect Takoyaki
Making perfectly round takoyaki takes a little bit of practice, but if you follow these tips, you'll have it in no time!
- Use plenty of oil - This will ensure that the outside gets a bit crispy and the takoyaki doesn't get stuck to the pan when you're turning it.
- Overfill the mold - If you just fill each mold with a small amount of batter you will find that, either the takoyaki becomes quite small or they're not round enough. You need to overfill it and then when it starts to cook and firm up, push the excess into the molds and turn it.
- Use picks or bamboo skewers to turn them - It's easy to use a pick to turn each takoyaki.
- Swap places - Usually the heat isn't 100% evenly spread across the takoyaki pan. Swap the positions of pale ones with golden ones to ensure they're all evenly cooked.
Friends and families often enjoy having takoyaki parties! Show off your skills and have fun making this street-food favourite at home!Print