Takoyaki are fried or baked balls of batter with chunks of pre-cooked octopus in the middle, served with or without mayonnaise and sauce. If you ask any Osaka resident what food would characterize their region it’s usually listed along with yakisoba and okonomiyaki. Because of its popularity streets are lined with many takoyaki stands and most homes have their own takoyaki grill. Takoyaki are made with batter made with broth, pickled ginger, tenkasu (bits of fried tempura batter), scallions, octopus and a host of other ingredients. The batter is poured into the indentations on a hot, oiled iron takoyaki griddle. The octopus and the other ingredients are then dropped in the middle. Once the underside is cooked, it is skillfully turned with a pick-like tool, forming the ball.
An earlier version of takoyaki was choboyaki, which were smaller and had yam paste and green peas filling inside the batter balls. They were grilled on special pans with hemispherical depressions, giving the food its spherical shape. When vendors started using other fillings like meat it was known as rajioyaki, named after the most popular invention at that time. It is Endo Tomekichi who is credited with the creation of takoyaki in 1935. He was a rajioyaki street seller, and one day he decided to experiment with different fillings and added flavor to the batter. This became a hit, and the snack has since spread to different regions across the country.
You will need a special takoyaki griddle to cook on.
- 1 cup flour
- 4 cups dashi (or water)
- 4 eggs
- pinch of baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 100 grams pre-cooked octopus, cut into 1-cm cubes
- 1/4 cup red pickled ginger
- 1/4 cup tenkasu (or rice crispies)
- 1/4 cup konnyaku, cut into 1-cm cubes
- 1/4 cup scallions, roughly chopped
- dried bonito flakes
- aonori (finely-ground seaweed)
- Combine the batter ingredients in a bowl.
- Heat the takoyaki skillet and brush lightly with oil.
- Do a test run of four two five takoyaki balls to adjust the batter’s thickness. Fill each indentation with batter and then drop in a piece of octopus, followed by a few pieces of each of the rest of the ingredients.
- Once the bottom is cooked, carefully turn with a thin skewer or a butter knife.
- Keep turning the dumplings until they are round and crisp on the outside but still undercooked at the center.
- Remove to a serving dish and brush lightly with sauce, then sprinkle with katsuo and aonori.
Like okonomiyaki, you can add other ingredients, hiding it inside the balls of batter for a wonderful surprise.
[tags]food, japan, takoyaki, recipe[/tags]