Crispy and savory fried batter balls with a springy piece of octopus hidden in the center, topped with a savory brown sauce, smooth, creamy Japanese mayonnaise, powdery aonori seaweed flakes, and dancing bonito shavings make up one of Japan’s most beloved street foods. Takoyaki first became popular in the city of Osaka, located in the western part of Japan, during the 1930s. From there, the dish quickly spread east to Tokyo then throughout the rest of Japan. Takoyaki is typically eaten as a street food, purchased from convenience stores and roadside stalls, and as a bar food, commonly enjoyed at izakaya-- the Japanese version of a pub.
Perhaps the most distinct feature of takoyaki is the shape. The unique ball-like form of takoyaki is produced using a specialized pan and frying method that involves using a chopstick or skewer to carefully rotate overflowing batter into a spherical shape. A takoyaki pan somewhat resembles a mini-muffin pan. They are made of non-stick metal and indented with several rows of hemispherical cups. Though in contrast to muffin pans, takoyaki pans for home use are often circular for better heat conduction overtop of a stove burner.
Being that takoyaki is, by origin, a street food, the ingredients have the potential to be highly customizable so long as five core tenants of its construction are abided by. You will need dashi-flavored batter, which you can mix yourself or purchase premade much like pancake mix, a filling for the center of the takoyaki-- traditionally octopus but easily substitutable with shrimp, hot dog pieces, or even corn, diced scallion, finely chopped benishoga, a type of Japanese pickled ginger, and tenkasu. The dish is completed with its signature toppings-- a brown, worcestershire-like sauce called takoyaki sauce, a drizzle of Japanese mayo, aonori powder and bonito flakes. Use the following guide to make your own takoyaki at home!
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes
Makes approximately 25 pieces of takoyaki
12 floz. water