Takoyaki recipe たこ焼き

Takoyaki. photo by Namiko Chen

Takoyaki, or grilled octopus balls, is one of Japan’s best-known street foods that originated in Osaka. Whether you make a traditional style with bits of octopus or other alternatives, these ball-shaped dumplings are fun to make with your friends and family!

Takoyaki (たこ焼き) is a Japanese snack in the shape of little round balls containing pieces of octopus. Takoyaki literally translates to “octopus-grilled/fried” and some people may call it “grilled octopus balls” or “octopus dumplings.”

What is Takoyaki
Here are some facts about takoyaki.

It is said to have originated in and became popular in Osaka around 1935 and then spread to greater south-central Japan and beyond.

It’s one of the most popular Japanese street foods, along with okonomiyaki.

Street vendors, convenience stores, supermarkets, food courts and, of course, specialty restaurants, usually sell takoyaki. In Osaka, takoyaki stands can be easily found throughout the city.

It is usually served with slightly salty takoyaki sauce, which goes well with beer and other alcoholic drinks. Therefore, many izakaya restaurants serve takoyaki.

5 Ingredients for Authentic Takoyaki
There are so many variations of takoyaki throughout Japan. For example, the original Osaka-style does not include any cabbage, but many regional variations (Kyoto, Kobe, Nagoya and Tokyo areas) do. Even though I lived in the Tokyo area, I actually didn’t know they sometimes contain cabbage until now.

Here are the ingredients for the classic takoyaki recipe.

1. Dashi-flavored batter
It’s very simple. It’s a mixture of Japanese stock dashi, all-purpose flour, baking powder, eggs, salt and soy sauce. If you don’t want to make the batter from scratch, you can find takoyaki mix in Japanese grocery stores or on Amazon.

2. Octopus
You can purchase cooked (boiled) octopus (tako in Japanese) in Japanese grocery stores. If you are going to make this snack for a big party, you can purchase a whole cooked octopus at an online sashimi store like Catalina Offshore. When I buy a whole octopus, I use it for different dishes, including sashimi, carpaccio, octopus salad (takosu) and, of course, takoyaki.

3. Beni shoga (red pickled ginger)
Small bits of beni shoga (紅生姜), or red pickled ginger, give takoyaki a nice pop of color and a little spicy, pungent kick to the dish.

4. Green onion
The batter is yellow, octopus and beni shoga are red … and now you need something green to make the dish look more appetizing (and delicious)!

5. Tenkasu or Agedama (Tenpura scraps)
I often get questions about what tenkasu does for the dish. We use tenpura scraps for hot or cold tanuki udon noodles and okonomiyaki (even Hiroshima-style). The oil from tenkasu adds richer and more umami flavors, additional crispness and creaminess inside takoyaki balls.

Takoyaki Sauce and Garnish
Takoyaki is served with Worcestershire sauce-like “takoyaki sauce,” followed by a squirt of Japanese mayo. You can: Buy a store-bought takoyaki sauce or make a quick homemade takoyaki sauce (https://www.justonecookbook.com/takoyaki-sauce-recipe/) with several condiments

Then it’s topped with a sprinkle of a few garnishes:
Aonori (dried green seaweed)
Katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)

3 Tips to Make Perfect Takoyaki
I received many requests for this recipe from JOC readers (thank you!). To make the recipe as authentic as possible, I asked my best friend Yukako who lives in Osaka. She makes delicious takoyaki at home and she and her husband shared their own recipe with me and JOC readers. Yay! I adapted the recipe a little bit so that some ingredients will be easier to measure.

Tip 1: Don’t be stingy with the oil.
Apply oil generously everywhere (each hole in the takoyaki pan and surrounding flat area). How generous? You should see 1/4 inch (5 mm) oil in each hole. The oil helps the takoyaki to have crispy skin and it’ll be easier for you to flip without the batter being stuck.

Tip 2: Pour the batter generously.
When you see smoke coming out of the grill/plate, fill the hole with the batter. If it overflows, that’s OK, because the entire grill top should be covered with the batter after adding octopus and other ingredients in the hole. If you use a bigger chunk of octopus pieces, you might want to pour just enough to the top of the holes. As soon as the octopus goes in, it overflows naturally.

Tip 3: Flip 90 degrees and stuff in the extra batter.
Break the extra batter around the hole with skewers. Once the bottom of the takoyaki balls are crispy, rotate 90 degrees to let the uncooked batter pour out into the hole. Stuff and push in the extra surrounding dough inside the balls. This will help make a perfectly round shape.

For a home takoyaki grill, each hole doesn’t provide the same amount of heat. Therefore, it’s important to switch around the balls once they are in a ball shape so they’re browned evenly.

Don’t Like Octopus? Here Are Substitutions!
No problem! A lot of Japanese children enjoy different fillings besides pieces of octopus. Here are my suggestions for other fillings.

Sausages / bacon
Canned tuna / mentaiko (spicy cod/pollock roe)
Shrimp / squid
Mochi (rice cakes)
Fish cake (chikuwa/crab sticks)
Green peas

Various Takoyaki Grills
1. Zojirushi Gourmet Sizzler Electric Griddle + EA-YBC01 Takoyaki Plate (Optional) ($130 + $60)

This is the takoyaki grill pan that I use. I use this electric griddle for teppanyaki and okonomiyaki. I switch the hot plate to the takoyaki plate when I make takoyaki.

2. Iwatani Cassette Gas Takoyaki Device ($100)

3. Iwatani Non-Stick Takoyaki Grill for Cassette Butane Stove ($40)

Do you have this Iwatani cassette feu butane stove already? I use this exact model for doing a hot pot at the table and sometimes filming my YouTube videos. If you have one already, then you can purchase this Iwatani accessory. The grill is non-stick and prevents food from sticking to the pan.

4. Yamazen Takoyaki Device ($45)

5. Ebelskiver (Danish) Pan ($25)

Many JOC readers told me they successfully made takoyaki with an Ebelskiver (Danish) pan or Appam Maker (Indian) as well.

Other Japanese Street Foods

If you are interested in learning about Japanese Street Foods, check out Japanese Summer Festival Foods (https://www.justonecookbook.com/japanese-summer-festival-foods/).

Takoyaki, or Grilled Octopus Balls, originated in Osaka and are one of Japan’s best-known street foods. Whether you make the traditional style with bits of octopus or choose other creative alternatives, these ball-shaped dumplings are fun to make with your friends and family!

Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 25 mins
Servings: 26 pieces

1/4 cup katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) (I use one with bigger flakes — see the picture on the post)
2 green onions/scallions
1 Tbsp pickled red ginger (beni shoga or kizami beni shoga)
4.2 oz octopus sashimi (boiled octopus) (you can find cooked octopus in Japanese grocery stores; substitute with sausage, corn, edamame, cheese, small mochi pieces … the choices are endless!)
2 Tbsp neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, rice bran, canola, etc.)
1/3 cup tenkasu/agedama (tempura scraps)

For the Takoyaki Batter
1 cup all-purpose flour (plain flour)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt (Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt)
2 large eggs (50 g each w/o shell)
1 tsp soy sauce
1 1/2 cups dashi (Japanese soup stock; https://www.justonecookbook.com/how-to-make-dashi-jiru/)

For the Toppings
1/2 cup takoyaki sauce (homemade or store bought) (or use tonkatsu sauce)
Japanese mayonnaise
katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
aonori (dried green laver seaweed)
pickled red ginger (beni shoga or kizami beni shoga)

Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, visit https://www.justonecookbook.com/ingredient-substitution-for-japanese-cooking/.

For the full recipe, visit https://www.justonecookbook.com/takoyaki-recipe/

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