Takoyaki is a ball-shaped Japanese snack made of a wheat flour-based batter and cooked in a special molded pan.
This Japanese snack is a ball of mixed ingredients that includes the “tako” (minced or diced octopus), “tenkasu” (tempura scraps), green onions and pickled ginger.
Takoyaki’s are usually glazed with Worcestershire-like sauce which is just plainly called takoyaki sauce.
It is also brushed with mayonnaise, then it is sprinkled with something called “aonori” (green laver or a type of edible seaweed) as well as shavings of dried bonito.
Known variations of takoyaki include the Goma-dare (sesame-and-vinegar sauce) or vinegared dashi, and the ponzu (soy sauce with dashi and citrus vinegar), but you can get creative and come up with your own version of the takoyaki recipe.
Most Japanese words are a combination of two distinct words fused into one to describe someone or something, in this case, is the takoyaki.
Since we already know what tako means, let’s look at the word “yaki;” it is derived from the word “yaku” which means to fry or grill.
Takoyaki is commonly known as “konamono” (flour things) along with Okonomiyaki and Ikayaki because they both are cooked with flour (“Kona” in Japanese) batter.
History of Takoyaki
A man by the name of Tomekichi Endo invented the takoyaki and popularized it in Osaka in 1935. He is a street vendor but was quite the smart cook for his time.
The takoyaki konamono derived from akashiyaki, which is a small spherical dumpling (made of an egg-rich batter and octopus) that originated from Akashi City in Hyōgo Prefecture.
With a new taste hitting the streets of Akashi City, so too its popularity started spreading across various regions which included Kansai, Kanto as well as the rest of the country as time went on.
It is believed that the first takoyaki snacks were introduced among the yatai street food stalls, which later evolved into takoyaki specialty restaurants, which are widespread across the Kansai region.
Today takoyaki has gained so much notoriety that it has become a household name in Japan and is also sold at commercial outlets like 24-hour convenience stores and supermarkets.
The takoyaki dish is also very popular in Taiwan as historically the island nation is a common trading partner of Japan since ancient times and has borrowed some Japanese cuisines and adopted it into their culture such as the takoyaki.
The oldest known takoyaki store is Aizuya in Osaka and was founded by the cuisine’s inventor himself, Tomakichi Endo in the 1930s. The store has remained operational to this day.
Before the takoyaki became famous for its octopus meat as one of its base ingredients, Endo first experimented with beef and konjac and improved the flavorings for the batter too!
Nicknamed as the “octopus balls,” the takoyaki was first known by such a name before it is called takoyaki today, and it became widespread across Japan as it was among the favorite in the street food stalls dipped in brown sauce.
You cannot cook a takoyaki octopus balls without using a takoyaki specialized pan.
The takoyaki pan, or its other nickname – takoyaki-nabe, is a cast iron griddle that’s dotted with indented half-spherical molds. [read my full Takoyaki pan reviews here]
The unique iron griddle heats up the takoyaki evenly until the bottom half spherical side of it is cooked, then it is turned over using a toothpick or the larger bamboo skewer to let the uncooked batter get cooked in the base of the rounded cavity.
LNG or LPG tanks are used as fuel to cook the takoyaki during open-air Japanese festivals by restaurants, street vendors or individuals.
For home use, electric versions resemble a hotplate; stovetop versions are also available.
Because takoyaki is a fairly easy recipe to cook and is quite the popular street food in Japan, so many households in Japan own a takoyaki pan.
It’s also the reason why the production and sale of this particular kitchen item are common in Japanese stores and supermarkets; however, they may not be as popular outside of Japan.
Online stores like Amazon do sell takoyaki pans, but if Amazon does not deliver to your country, or you can’t find it in your local store, then you can use the Dutch pancake pan as a replacement.
The 2 pans are very similar to each other with the exception that the Dutch pancake pan has shallower rounded concave indentions than the Japanese takoyaki pan, but they do the job nevertheless.
What Else is in Takoyaki Apart from Octopus?
The takoyaki batter is specially made with a mixture that includes flour, egg and dashi stock, which is already delicious in and on itself.
On top of that it is also mixed with cooked and diced octopus (or other meats and seafood like beef steak, shrimp, salmon, etc. depending on the creativity of the chef he’ll use the type of meat in order to accentuate the takoyaki’s flavor), finely chopped scallions or green shallots, tenkasu, and pickled ginger.
Okay, at this point you’re probably wondering what a tenkasu is, but you don’t need to Google it as it is simply the crunchy bits of deep-fried batter debris from cooking the tempura.
How amazing is that?! Using remains from another food as a flavoring/topping for a different recipe. You can only find it in Japan!
Adding tenkasu enhances the flavor of the takoyaki as it gives off a piquant flavor or smell.
In order to add more color to the takoyaki red pickled ginger is added, which gives off a refreshing taste each time you bite into the octopus balls.
Other Tools and Skills You Need to Make Takoyaki
In case you haven’t seen how takoyaki is cooked, then you may want to watch this How To Make Takoyaki (Recipe) on YouTube:
You don’t necessarily need the skills of a world class chef to be able to cook the takoyaki; however, certain skill and practice is required.
The one thing that you’ll need to remember when cooking the takoyaki is how to flip the batter correctly.
This is because when it is done in the wrong way, then the batter could get a different shape other than a sphere and you’ll ruin the takoyaki all together.
It’s a tricky business as the batter could split open and the uncooked part of it might end up all over the pan instead of the mold, so must have the finesse of a chef to flip the batter over and perfectly put it where it belongs.
A bamboo or a small metal skewer should do the trick, although you may still have to use your hands to aid in flipping the takoyaki over successfully.
Sauce and Toppings for Takoyaki
Eating takoyaki won’t be complete without its dipping sauce also called takoyaki sauce.
It is similar to the okonomiyaki soy-based sauce that takes the already flavorful takoyaki to new heights.
The sauce is made from Worcestershire sauce (usutah so-su), mentsuyu (noodle soup base), ketchup and sugar mix that gives off a sweet fruity flavor to the bite, although not as strong as the okonomiyaki sauce.
The takoyaki sauce is also dressed with Japanese mayonnaise as well as drizzled with seaweed and bonito flakes.
They are all readily available in Japan and in most Asian or Japanese grocery stores.
Takoyaki on its own is already a delicious dish; however, you would not enjoy the best of its taste without the sauce and toppings.
Highly Recommended Takoyaki Recipes
The Basic Takoyaki Recipe
- 300g all-purpose flour
- 3 eggs
- 1 liter (4 1/4 cups) of cold water
- 3 grams of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon kombu dashi stock granules
- 1/2 teaspoon katsuo dashi stock granules
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- Cubes of boiled octopus, or your choice of cooked, cubed protein (you could use shrimp, squid, chicken, hot dogs, etc.)
- Sliced green onions
- Tempura bits or rice krispies
- Shredded cheese
- Japanese mayonnaise
- Takoyaki sauce (you can buy this in a bottle at most Asian groceries, it usually has a picture of takoyaki on the front)
- Bonito flakes
- Aonori (powdered seaweed) or seaweed strips
- Crack the eggs in a small mixing bowl and add the water as well as the stock granules, then beat the mix manually or with an egg beater. Pour the egg-water-stock granules mixture into the flour, then add salt and mix well (with an egg beater or manually) until you’ve successfully created the batter. Turn on the stove and place the takoyaki pan on top of it. Brush the individual half-sphere compartments with oil.
- Two minutes into heating, pour the takoyaki batter into the concave semi-spherical molds. It’s okay if you accidentally make the batter in the molds spill over the brim as you can just gather them later when you’ll flip the batter over for the other side to be cooked. While you’re cooking the takoyaki in the takoyaki pan add the green onions in each ball, add your protein (your choice of meat), the shredded cheese, and the tempura bits or rice krispies.
- Two to 3 minutes into cooking the takoyaki, you may now flip it over in order for the other side to cook. Use a bamboo or metal skewer when flipping the ball over in order to not ruin its spherical shape. If you can’t turn the takoyaki easily, it probably needs to cook for a bit longer. Let it sit in the pan for another 60 seconds before flipping it over. The takoyaki balls should be easier to turn over once they’ve cooked through because the batter will no longer stick to the pan.
- You will know when the takoyaki is done because it will have a light brown crispy texture on the outside and you can flip them easily in their holes as they no longer stick to the pan. The overall cook time is estimated to be 10 minutes per batch from the time you’ve placed them on the stove to the time you’ll take them out.
- Place the hot takoyakis on a clean plate, then drizzle them with Japanese mayonnaise and takoyaki sauce. Sprinkle them with aonori and bonito flakes as well. Then serve them to your guests.
Note: You can also buy a prepackaged takoyaki flour at any Asian supermarket in case you’re feeling a bit lazy to cook it the traditional way. All that’s needed to cook it is just the eggs and water.
Benishoga Takoyaki with Takoyaki Sauce
- 2 cups (480ml) Dashi
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
- 2-3 green onions, finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp benishoga (pickled red ginger), chopped
- 5-6 oz octopus, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- Takoyaki sauce or okonomiyaki sauce
- Aonori (green dried seaweed)
- Katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
- Get a large mixing bowl and whisk flour, eggs, dashi stock, soy sauce, and salt together until it becomes vacuous.
- Place the takoyaki pan on the stove and brush it with light oil only in the holes, then heat it up until the oil begins to smoke. Spread the oil using a brush or a paper towel thoroughly to coat the holes in the pan, so that the batter won’t stick. After that, you may now pour the batter in the holes of the pan.
- While the batter is being cooked, drop the diced octopus meat in each hole, and then drizzle it with the chopped onions as well as the minced ginger throughout the takoyaki pan.
- Cook the takoyaki balls for about 1-2 minutes at medium heat and then flip it over using a bamboo or metal skewers (you can also use chopsticks to do this). You may need to watch this YouTube video to learn how to flip the takoyaki properly. Cook the other half of the batter for another 3-4 minutes before transferring them to a clean plate and let cool.
- Once cooked, put them on a clean plate and pour the takoyaki sauce over them thoroughly, then add Japanese mayo to taste. To complete the dish and make them ready for serving, sprinkle it with green dried seaweed called “aonori” and dried bonito flakes called “katsuobushi.”
- 100 grams flour
- 1 egg
- 300 ml dashi stock
- 50 grams cooked octopus
- 1/4 cup of finely chopped scallions
- 1/4 cup Tenkasu
- 2 tbsp red pickled ginger
- Takoyaki sauce
- Japanese mayonnaise
- Seaweed flake for toppings
- Bonito flake for toppings
- Combine water, egg and dashi stock together in a bowl and mix well until frothy.
- Get a strainer and sift the flour into a large mixing bowl, then pour 1/2 of the water mixture into it.
- Whisk the dry flour and water mix thoroughly until they become viscous.
- Pour the other half of the water mixture into the mixing bowl with the flour and water mix and blend well.
- Use a kitchen brush and brush the takoyaki pan with cooking oil and then start heating it in the stove.
- Pour the batter into each hole on the pan and make sure that you fill them halfway to the top and add the pickled ginger, tempura crisps, green onion, and diced octopus into the batter, then add more batter to seal it inside.
- Allow the batter to cook for 2-3 minutes before flipping it over and let the other side cook too. Do remember to trim off the excess batter that overflowed when you poured them earlier. You can remix these batter into the next batch of takoyakis when you’ll pour them into the pan holes.
- Do not stop flipping the takoyaki every minute or so until they become golden brown in color. The color change will indicate whether or not it is cooked.
- When they’re ready, transfer them into a clean plate and coat them with the takoyaki sauce and Japanese mayonnaise, then drizzle them with bonito and aonori flakes before serving them to your guests.
- 50 grams takoyaki batter mix
- 150 grams of water
- 1/2 egg
- 20 grams mentaiko (salted pollock roe)
- 6 small cubes cream cheese
- Takoyaki sauce
- Add the takoyaki batter mix, water and egg into a small mixing bowl, then whisk them until they become frothy.
- Pre-heat the takoyaki pan and brush them with vegetable oil. Once the pan reaches the right temperature, then pour the batter into the pan holes to cook.
- Add the mentaiko and cheese, then pour more batter until it slightly overflows the brim of the pan holes.
- Once bottoms have dried, flip each takoyaki over and cook until they are done (they should have a golden-brown color when they cook).
- Transfer to serving plates, pour the takoyaki sauce over them and then serve.
- 1 1/2 eggs
- 150 grams of water
- 20cc milk
- 50 grams of cooked rice
- 1 teaspoon ketchup
- 4 mini sausages
- Combine the water, ketchup, milk, and eggs in a small mixing bowl and mix them thoroughly.
- Once you’ve made the batter mix, then pour it into the takoyaki molds and start cooking them.
- After 2 minutes add the mini sausages, cooked rice, salt, and pepper to the batter in the takoyaki pan.
- Pour more batter to cover the added ingredients until it reaches the brim of the pan holes and overflows a bit.
- Flip the takoyaki once the bottoms have dried until they get that golden-brownish color (this means they are ready to be eaten).
- Once cooked, place the takoyaki balls in a clean dry serving plate, pour the takoyaki sauce and then serve.
Chocolate Banana Castella
- 50 grams pancake mix
- 40 grams of milk
- 150 grams of water
- 1/2 egg
- 1/2 banana
- 4 pieces of chocolate
- Chocolate sauce
- Dried raspberry flakes
- In order to make this version of takoyaki, combine wet ingredients together and pour into takoyaki molds.
- Cook the takoyaki balls in the takoyaki pan and add in the solid ingredients (i.e. chocolate and dried raspberry flakes).
- Flip the takoyaki balls over once the bottom half is cooked and dried to allow for the other half to cook also.
- Transfer to serving plates and serve with sauce.
Matcha Adzuki Cake
- 150 grams of water
- 50 grams pancake mix
- 40 grams of milk
- 1/2 egg
- 1 tablespoon matcha powder
- 30 grams anko (sweetened adzuki bean paste)
- 6 pieces shiratama (mochi)
- White chocolate
- Combine water, pancake mix, milk, egg, and matcha powder and mix them thoroughly.
- Heat up the takoyaki pan and brush the holes with oil, then pour the batter mix and allow takoyaki to cook.
- Add the shiratama, anko and white chocolate, then pour some more batter up to the brim of the pan holes.
- Don’t forget to flip each takoyaki ball, because you have to ensure that all of its sides are properly cooked with crispy golden-brown texture.
- Once they’re cooked, then put them in a clean serving plate, pour the takoyaki sauce and then serve.