What Is Takoyaki? An Octopus Snack Ball Guide
Savory, salty, and downright delicious, takoyaki is a common snack in Japan that is enjoyed by all. You may have seen videos of this dish being prepared on social media.
Tako means octopus, and yaki indicates the cooking method. In this case, pan-frying with the iconic iron plate with round wells holds and cooks the batter and meat into balls. The skilled cook flips them expertly with chopsticks – it is so satisfying to watch and eat!
This Japanese snack is absolutely delicious, and by learning a bit more about it, we think you’ll really come to appreciate it as much as we do!
So, let’s get into the famous snack from the Kansai region of Japan.
What Are the Origins of Takoyaki?
Takoyaki is believed to have been invented in 1935 by a street vendor named Endo Tomekichi. As a street vendor from the bustling city of Osaka, Endo was inspired by another dish called akashiyaki, a small round egg dumpling from the Hyōgo Prefecture.
Cooking takoyaki with batter instead of eggs proved to be a genius move because this dish exploded in popularity and is served not only in Osaka and other parts of Japan, but also around the world.
What Is Takoyaki Made of?
Takoyaki is made up of only a few simple ingredients. The star of the show is the octopus. The moist, light, and tender meat is cut into cubes and put into a batter made from buckwheat flour. The mixture is then fried into perfect, golden-brown spheres.
Takoyaki is served with a few staple toppings. You can add green onion, Kewpie mayo, pickled ginger, bonito (fish flakes), furikake, seaweed, and takoyaki sauce (which is similar to Worcestershire sauce). All of these ingredients come together to make a delicious, savory snack that melts in your mouth.
The melt-in-your-mouth batter balances the tender octopus meat with dashi (dried kelp and fish flakes). It is a fried Japanese specialty that serves as delightful comfort food that will leave you feeling warm and satisfied.
Does Takoyaki Always Contain Octopus?
The word takoyaki literally means grilled octopus, so the dish must contain octopus to be “true” takoyaki. But there’s no reason you can’t sub that out for a different ingredient that might better suit your taste.
For example, you could add sweet corn and cabbage or other savory-sweet vegetables to get amazing results! There are also variations on the sauces used, including citrusy ponzu sauce and sesame-based goma dare sauce. You can even find different variations of takoyaki depending on the location and season.
What Does Takoyaki Taste Like?
The nuttiness of the buckwheat flour pairs well with the umami flavor of the tender octopus, making for a savory taste with just a touch of pleasant bitterness.
The toppings serve to enhance the flavor and add a new profile depending on what you pick. Bright pickled ginger, creamy Kewpie mayo, and the savory and acidic takoyaki sauce are what broadens the flavor spectrum of the dish.
What Is the Texture of Takoyaki?
Takoyaki is pleasantly soft. The batter on the outside has a delicate crispiness, but on the inside, it is soft and moist. The tender octopus meat serves to give a variance in texture, but it’s still easy to chew and makes for an overall enjoyable mouth feel. The texture itself is part of what makes takoyaki iconic.
How Can I Make Takoyaki?
It’s a relatively simple dish to prep, but learning to flip the takoyaki balls with precision can be a bit of an entertaining challenge.
Of course, you could always just buy premade takoyaki, which will transport you to the food stalls of Japan! However, learning how to make them yourself is something you should try at least once. Here’s how to make takoyaki at home.
How To Make Takoyaki Batter
The first thing to do is make your batter. In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 cup all-purpose flour, 2 tsp baking powder, and ½ tsp kosher salt and whisk it all together.
Then, add 2 large eggs, 1 tsp soy sauce, and 1 ½ cups dashi (Japanese soup stock) and mix until well blended. Transfer the batter to a measuring cup or pitcher for easy pouring.
It requires a lot of ingredients that can be tough to come by. But don’t worry, we’ve got takoyaki flour mix here at Umamicart!
So if you don’t want to go out and find or make either of those ingredients, you can easily find a ready-made takoyaki flour mix that will work amazingly.
Pour Batter into Takoyaki Pan
For this step, you’re going to need a takoyaki frying pan. It’s made of iron, and it has little half-circle wells throughout it that are about three to four centimeters wide.
Put a little bit of oil in each well to keep everything from sticking and achieve a nice crisp on the outside of your takoyaki, and then pour your batter into each well. It’s best to work in order, so you can know which ones to flip first.
It is also helpful to put the batter in a squeeze bottle to easily pour into the small wells. It makes for less spillage and a much better cooking experience overall.
Add Your Fillings
Once the mixture starts to set, add your filling into the batter. If you’re going the standard takoyaki route, add your cubed octopus.
Make Sure the Batter Does Not Stick
As we’ve already added oil to keep the batter from sticking, it’s essential to make sure you don’t cook them for too long. This is where you’ll have to be fast.
The street vendors of Osaka use chopsticks to quickly flip each ball and cook on the other side. Try a spoon and fork if you’re not too handy with chopsticks. All it takes is having a steady grip to flip the takoyaki.
Add Toppings of Your Choice
Finally, take your takoyaki out of the pan, plate it up, and add your additional toppings. Don’t be afraid to go crazy on this step.
Maybe you want some sriracha mayo for a creamy kick, add more flakes for an extra crunch, or go the pickled ginger route for a nice acidic zing. But definitely add some Aonori (seaweed flakes) for a nice green garnish.
Why Do I Need a Special Pan for Takoyaki?
It can be challenging to make takoyaki without that special pan and still get
those perfectly round spheres. But if you don’t have the pan, you can just make the batter a little thicker to help it keep its shape and then deep fry them in oil.
What Sauces Go Well With Takoyaki?
Many sauces go great with this dish: Japanese Worcestershire sauce, takoyaki, and Japanese mayonnaise. But any sauce can complement this savory-sweet dish.
Takoyaki is the ultimate Japanese comfort food and is sure to give your taste buds a meal they won’t soon forget.
If you want to make takoyaki at home, check out Umamicart to deliver the ingredients straight to your door. Asian groceries can be hard to come by, but Umamicart makes it easy to cook the dishes you love!