The super popular snack from Japan in your own home! These crispy, gooey, chewy festival balls are incredibly delicious when made right. They do require some special equipment and a lot of practice, but once you have those things down it will be worth the effort. Check out the video to learn how to make them in your own kitchen.
Takoyaki is one of my favourite Japanese foods. My first time coming across this dish was actually in an anime called Metabots. The main character was challenging a girl, who owned a takoyaki stand, to a battle over an order of the octopus balls. I thought that the dish was interesting but didn’t think much else of it since it was a cartoon and I was way more focused on the robots fighting then anything else.
The next time I came upon them was when I was at a Japanese festival. My friends, older brother and I were very into the Japanese culture so we were taking everything in, especially the food. I remember standing in the ridiculously long queue waiting to get some octopus balls while watching the chef stand behind this crazy looking pan (way bigger than the one in my video) pouring batter onto it, and flipping them around with ease. When I finally got to hold an order in my hand I was super excited and couldn’t wait to eat them, which led me to burning the roof of my mouth as well as sending me to what felt like food heaven. These little things tasted so good with the crispy outside, gooey inside and the chewy filling was just amazing. Paired with the mayo, takoyaki sauce, and the bonito flakes makes it a dangerously addictive festival food.
After that I would order octopus balls whenever I came across them at Japanese restaurants. The problem was that they were never as good as the ones at the festivals though. This is probably because it takes a work to cook these, and had pre-made ones to heat up before serving. Which make sense since you will pretty much need one person to solely focused on make these things when they’re ordered.
My brother and I didn’t really want to wait a whole year every time we get the craving for takoyaki, so we thought we would go make some of our own. Plus it would be a pretty cool skill to show off when we have friends over. We searched online looking for ways to get the pan and found a lot of non-stick pans, but being the traditionalist that we are we opted out and instead went to a local Japanese store to buy a heavy cast iron pan. Though there is nothing wrong with the non-stick ones, we wanted something that was authentic as well as something that would last a very long time.
Learning how to make the balls was pretty tough. At the time, we didn’t have a gas stove so we had to take out our butane stove to cook them. We had a very hard time controlling the heat evenly because of it and ended with a lot of burnt balls. It took us a while to really figure out how to make them. I think it was around the 3rd attempt at making a large batch to really understand what temperature was best and when how to flip the balls. But the hard work is worth it. Once you figure everything out you will end up with delicious takoyaki that is made at a fraction of the price.
While this recipe does require some more equipment than the others, learning how to make these will be worth it. Making these at home is way cheaper than getting them anywhere else and it is a pretty handy skill to show off to your friends and family. So win win.
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup dashi stock
1 tsp soy sauce
1 green onion stalk
2 tbsp benishoga (pickled ginger)
5 – 7oz boiled octopus
Start by prepping all the ingredients. So dice the octopus into medium size cubes, finely dice the green onions and roughly chop the benishoga. Next make some dashi stock. I usually buy the powdered version of the stock and mix it with water, but the problem is the amount you add in depends on what you’re making. Miso soup asks for more, where as if you’re making something to go with noodles then you add less. For this recipe I used about 1/2 tsp of dashi stock with 1 1/2 cups of warm water.
In a large bowl add the egg and soy sauce and beat until it’s mixed together. While stirring the egg slowly pour in the dashi stock. Next add the flour 1/3 at a time and mix until everything is incorporated.
Place the takoyaki pan on medium heat and oil it well with some canola. Add a drop of batter onto the pan, if it sizzles then you’re ready to make some octopus balls. Make sure you have all the ingredients close to you so you don’t waste any time looking for them. Quickly pour in the batter about 3/4 up in each section. Place 1 – 2 pieces of octopus in each ball, then place some benishoga in every ball. Sprinkle some green onion and pour in more batter until the whole pan is pretty much covered.
Wait about 30 seconds (this depends on how high the heat is) and then start separating the top part and flip each ball 90 degrees. This allows the batter inside the ball to flow out making 3/4 of the ball. You will need to do this part as fast as possible or else the batter with thicken and you won’t have any liquid batter left to make the last 1/4 of the balls. Wait about 20 – 30 seconds and flip them 90 degrees one more time to close up the takoyaki. Make sure to tuck in the excess bits as well to help cover the whole.
Flip them around until all it’s completely golden brown. Serve with japanese mayo, takoyaki sauce, green onions, aonori, and bonito flakes. These are best eaten as soon as possible, but be careful as the centre is still very hot.