Back in the day, when I first arrived in Japan I attended a Japanese Festival and was officially introduced to Takoyaki, the octopus filled dough ball, a crowd favorite in Japan. Determined to try all things and broaden my horizons except balut (unborn baby ducks straight from the egg, Filipino delicacy), I bought the bad boys pictured above to have a taste.
Before I chose to try these specifically I just watched the Japanese men and women cooking the dough balls on large cast iron skillets with rows of divets in them. They would expertly and efficiently fill the divets with batter and taking chopsticks with a small flick of the wrist they would spin the dough as it cooked.
Then they added pieces of raw octopus, green chives and other spices, and methodically went through each row spinning the dough around so that each one would cook evenly. As they finished they took the dough ball off the skillet, placed them in plastic containers with 6 each and doused them in Takoyaki sauce and Japanese mayonnaise. Now it was time to taste.
I was excited to eat octopus, so I timidly picked up one of the balls with my chopsticks, took in a wiff of the smell, and placed it into my mouth. It wasn’t horrible but it definitely was very dense with all of the sauce on top (Japanese style mayonnaise isn’t my thing and I only eat it in very small doses). After my sister moved to Japan she went to a few food parties while I was underway and learned how to make Takoyaki so we can at our house, which is what I plan to teach you guys.
First and foremost we must start with the batter. In Japan it looks just like this… you add water, eggs, and oil, mix it up and you’re in business. In just a few moments you have a bowl full of Takoyaki batter and its time to get cooking.
If you’re not in Japan you’ll have to procure the ingredients and make the batter yourself. Here’s what you’ll need:
2 cups all purpose flour
A dash of salt
4 1/2 cups of water
2 teaspoons of soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon katsuo dashi stock materials
1.2 teaspoon kambo dashi stock materials
whisk the eggs and add in the water and the katsuo and kambo stock materials. Once it is mixed thoroughly add the egg mixture to the flour with the dash of salt. Mix well. The batter is ready.
In Japan they sell octopus freshly cut at the market, if you can’t get octopus you can use other items such as hot dog pieces, cheese, I’m sure the list is endless.
Cut up two stocks of green chives (you can never have too many of these) into a small bowl
For the Toppings:
One container of Japanese Mayonaise
One container of special Takoyaki Sauce
Aonori (powdered seaweed which is what we use here) or seaweed strips
And most importantly… the Takoyaki Maker!
We have the batter mixed together so we can get our Takoyaki maker warmed up by plugging in in and powering it on. You can go ahead and spray the maker down with pam or wipe it with some butter, anything to keep the dough from sticking.
Once it heats up you can fill all of the divets with dough, you can fill them to the top and then some if that’s how it happens 🙂 Once you fill the Takoyaki maker with dough, its time to add the octopus. If you have a container full of small cuts of octopus, there’s nothing saying you can’t put more than one piece in each one so my sister normally sprinkles it throughout the dough.
Up close and personal.Now you had the tempura flakes. Just sprinkle them about, tempura is very delicious so you can never have too much. If you don’t have tempura flakes readily available then you can use rice crispies as the perfect substitute.
At this point its time to get a pair of chopsticks because these work the best and as the dough starts cooking the underside it is very easy to turn the dough about, you’ll have to constantly keep the dough moving in each divet so it doesn’t start to burn.
As an added game you can play “Hot Takoyaki” where you get a packet of wasabi and you place the entire contents of one packet into one of the dough balls on the maker, you cook all of them up and when you take them out of the pan you mix them around so no one knows where the wasabi filled dough ball is… then you cover them up for presenting and everybody eats until somebody gets the “Hot Takoyaki”.
In just a few minutes all of your Takoyaki balls will be simmering in the burner, almost ready for eating. Once the dough cooks evenly on both sides, their done cooking! Each batch will take approximately 10-15 minutes.
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