Sunday, November 7, 2010

Takoyaki Time... Yummy Octopus Balls...

We tried out our new takoyaki maker the other night. Actually this is our second takoyaki maker - the first was a more traditional steel plate for use on a grill... however it was a pain in the posterior to look after. So we caved in and bought the electric variety that is used almost universally within the Adelaide Japanese community... for $20AUD. I'm not convinced it's such good quality, but we'll see how it goes.

Now... just in case you didn't know, takoyaki is a battered ball with octopus filling (as well as a number other yummy ingredients). It's not what you'd call haute cuisine, but it's definitely a great snack or meal. It should be said that from our experience, takoyaki is generally something that is bought out, rather than cooked in... but when you're a long way from the nearest takoyaki-ya (shop) you need to compromise. Takoyaki originally became very popular in Osaka... but has spread throughout Japan. By the way - you'll see the word yaki often, and it normally refers to the food being grilled or broiled.

Actually... it's not strictly a takoyaki maker... it's sold here as a "Dutch Pancake" maker... however... if you can make it out the emblem on the front of the hot plate, it's an octopus... obviously for making octopus balls. Not sure that dutch pancakes would be any more popular than takoyaki however.

And now for the ingredients... there are different versions of takoyaki recipes, and we chose this one based on things that we could buy here in Adelaide.

Flour - 200g
Egg - x3
Dashi stock - 800 ml
Soy Sauce - tbsp
Mirin - tbsp (optional)
[Note: dashi is a fish stock that is used in many Japanese dishes]

Octopus - or tako (well of course there is)
Finely grated cabbage
Spring onion
Optional: Corn, Bacon etc...

Okonomiyaki Sauce
Mayonaise (preferably Japanese mayonaise)
Aonori (powdered seaweed)
Katsuobushi (dried fish flakes)

Note - it's normal to include Beni Shouga (red pickled ginger) in either the filling or the topping, but alas we didn't have any on the day. You will also need some bamboo skewers... but more on them later.

But there's also a wide variety of additional ingredients that you can incorporate into takoyaki... we tried using bacon for our son... just in case he didn't like the octopus. However, given that he was still sick it turned out he just wasn't that hungry at all.

For those of you have made okonomiyaki, it's not that different a batter... just be careful to add the ingredients together (first add the dashi stock to the beaten egg, then the flour to this mixture - add the flour slowly to avoid lumps). 

Pour the batter into the cooker, more or less filling up the cups. Don't worry if it spills over, you can clean up as it cooks. Pretty well straight away, pour in the filling ingredients (tako, cabbage, corn etc). Once again, spillage outside the cups is normal. The cooker only has one temperature setting (I'm not entirely sure how it's regulated)... so you don't need to worry about getting the temperature right.

After a few minutes, the outside of the balls will be cooked... this is where the bamboo skeweres come into it (or in our case, toothpicks because we had forgot to buy the larger sticks). You stick them in the edge - between the cooker and the cooked skin, and simply (gently) run the skewer around the outside of the cup... if it's cooked right, the balls will catch and twist around with the skewer. Here's the hard part, once the ball is caught with the skewer you should also twist it over so that the cooked side is facing up. Now - you might be wondering how you make a round ball from half-a-round-ball's worth of ingredients? Simple... most of the inside of ball is air...and octopus. As you turn the ball, the uncooked batter forms the second half of the takoyaki. Simple really.

Now after you have cooked the ball on both sides we just use the skewer to flip them out... their deliciously close to being gobbled at this point. The only other thing is to spread on some sauce, mayonaise, powdered aonori, and then finally katsuobushi (bonito) flakes... and there you have it... a simple delicious food that tastes great and is healthy for you.

As the Japanese say prior to eating meals as way of showing their thanks in advance...itadakimasu!...and after they've finished a resounding gochisousamadeshita!

And the verdict? Well, our first attempt was a miserable failure (too much batter, and we didn't know how to turn properly), however the 2nd and 3rd rounds were a vast improvement... and if I might say so, absolutely delicious! And it really reminded me of the beautiful flavours that I had experienced in Osaka... home of takoyaki. Arigatou T-chan!

More Japanese Lessons:

Delicious - oishii (美味しい)
Dinner - yorugohan (よるごはん)
Octopus - tako (たこ)
Formal saying before eating - itadakimasu (いただきます).
Formal saying after eating - gochisousamadeshita (ごちそうさまでした)
Thank you - arigatou (ありがとうor 有難う)


  1. I neeed to try that one day O_O It looks so good. I've never even had sushi -_- There's so much Japanese foods I'd like to try

  2. UGH! I hate takoyaki...but loved reading your post. And, I'm assuming these pics are NOT from your first batch, because these look perfect! My boys would kill for your takoyaki maker (I'd like if for the dutch pancakes ; ) ) but there is No Way I'm going to buy, let alone Touch, that raw octopus...YUK! LOL

  3. Yeah... Lucky number 3 batch was the best... I guess what they say about practice is right. As for octopus...

    It must be an interesting experience for you being in Japan if you're not into things like octopus (I'm not sure what it's like outside Hokkaido, but they're really big on all sorts of weird and wonderful seafood up there).

  4. Hi :)

    These look so good!:D My boyfriend & I have been looking around for one of these Takoyaki makers and were just wondering where you got it from in Adelaide? :)

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Savi - we bought ours in Harris Scarfe's, though I think they can sometimes be bought from other places like Target (they tend to be sporadic). Once again - they're normally sold as Dutch Pancake makers rather than takoyaki makers.

  5. I love Takoyaki. Thank you for sharing the recipe. I also wonder where to buy fresh and cheap seafood in Adelaide.