Japan is a culinary wonderland, from sushi to noodles. And one of my favorite ways to explore its vibrant food scene was through its street food. Among many options, there was one particular snack that captured my taste buds and fueled my love for Japanese street eats – takoyaki.
What is takoyaki?
These savory little balls originated in Osaka in the 1930s and have since become a popular snack and festival favorite throughout Japan and beyond. The word “takoyaki” can be broken down into two parts: “tako,” meaning octopus, and “yaki,” meaning grilled or fried. As the name suggests, the main ingredient of the dish is a tender piece of octopus encased in a flavorful batter.
You can see these balls all over Japan streets. You can watch street vendors pour the batter into the molds, add the diced octopus, and expertly turn the balls with their specialized tools. The smell and the sizzling sounds, all give me a truly sensory experience.
These Japanese street foods have a crispy exterior, a gooey interior, and tender chunks of octopus. The special thing is their toppings – drizzles of special sauce, a sprinkle of bonito flakes, and a dusting of seaweed. Everything created a symphony of tastes that left me craving more.
simple takoyaki recipe
Making this street food was not that hard. I nailed it the first time. I don’t have a takoyaki pan, so I used what I had – a muffin mold. And yeah, I made the baked version of this dish. These octopus balls didn’t have exactly the same flavors as those I had in Kyoto, but they were still good. Here is how to make takoyaki without a pan at home:
- 200 g takoyaki flour mix you can also use flour, baking powder and cornstarch
- 540 g water
- 1 chicken egg
- 300 g finely chopped cooked octopus
- 20 g finely chopped green onions
- 20 g pink ginger
- 15 g fish flakes
- 10 g sprinkled seaweed
- Mayonnaise or okonomiyaki sauce
- Preheat your oven to 200°C (400°F)
- In a mixing bowl, combine the takoyaki flour mix and water. Whisk until you achieve a smooth, lump-free batter. Add the egg and continue to whisk until well incorporated.
- Gently fold in the finely chopped cooked octopus, green onions, and pink ginger into the batter. Ensure an even distribution of ingredients.
- Brush a little cooking oil on muffin tin
- Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling each cavity almost to the top. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Once baked, remove the takoyaki from the oven. Drizzle mayonnaise or okonomiyaki sauce, and sprinkle the fish flakes and seaweed over the top for an extra burst of flavor.
Besides the original recipe, you can create many variations without octopuses by using other fillings like chicken, seafood (shrimp, squid, crab), pork, vegetables, or cheese. You can even make sweet takoyaki to make a dessert by infusing the batter with a hint of fruits like strawberries or bananas.
takoyaki sauce recipe
If you don’t like to use mayonnaise or okonomiyaki sauce, you can create your own sauce at home. Here is the recipe:
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tbsp mirin sweet rice wine
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp ketchup
- 1/2 cup dashi Japanese soup stock
- In a saucepan, combine soy sauce, mirin, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and ketchup.
- Add dashi to the mixture and whisk well.
- Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring the mixture to a simmer.
- Simmer for about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens slightly.
- Remove from heat and let it cool before serving.