Is takoyaki supposed to be gooey inside? The takoyaki sweet spot

                by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  November 8, 2021

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If you have ever been to Japan, it’s likely you will encounter a food called takoyaki.

These are popular snacks also called octopus balls.

Basically, they consist of minced octopus and other ingredients coated in a wheat-based batter and molded into a ball shape.

Two images of Takoyaki with the gooey batter and a finished plate of takoyaki octopus balls

When tourists eat takoyaki, many are disappointed to find out they are gooey inside.

In fact, there have been a number of forums where people go back and forth wondering whether takoyaki is supposed to be gooey inside or whether this is just the product of an unskilled chef.

Yes, takoyaki is supposed to be gooey inside. It has a crisp exterior and a soft interior. However, it is not supposed to be runny. If the takoyaki is runny, it means it is undercooked. But if it is overcooked, it will be too firm.

Read on to find out more about it.

What is takoyaki?

Takoyaki is a popular Japanese snack or appetizer. It is made from a wheat-based batter that is cooked in a specially molded pan.

It is usually filled with diced or minced octopus, tempura scraps, pickled ginger, and green onion.

The balls are brushed with takoyaki sauce, which is similar to Worcestershire sauce, and mayonnaise (the kewpie mayo has slightly different ingredients than American).

They are then sprinkled with green laver, dried bonito flake shavings, and other great takoyaki toppings.

Anything wheat-based is called konamono in Japan, read all about it here

Is takoyaki supposed to be gooey inside?

I’ve looked at a few recipes for takoyaki and none of them say that the balls are supposed to have a gooey texture. On the other hand, none of them say they will not.

However, if you look at articles that describe how takoyaki is supposed to taste, you will find out that it has a lightly crisp outside and, yes, it is supposed to be gooey inside.

However, it is not supposed to be runny. If the takoyaki is runny, it means it is undercooked. But if it is overcooked, it will be too tough.

Takoyaki is not easy to cook and knowing exactly when to turn it will be the difference between whether it is runny, gooey, or too tough.

The batter is extremely runny when uncooked and chefs kind of have to chase after it to gather the batter into the balls as they are turning them.

Some recipes will give you an exact time of when you should turn the balls, but it seems like more of a feel thing that takes some trial and error to perfect.

Want to try to make takoyaki yourself? Start with these delicious takoyaki recipe ideas

Why is takoyaki so soft?

Takoyaki is soft because of the octopus filling. The octopus meat is basically steamed in a better which makes it very soft and tender. It’s the secret to making octopus nice to eat.

Although people expect octopus to be firm and chewy, once it’s minced into small pieces, it cooks easily and becomes tender.

Many people are surprised that takoyaki is so soft and mushy. The batter is still slightly runny and mixed with the octopus, it is a soft filling. You can compare the texture to that of melted cheese.

If you really hate the mushy gooey texture, you can cook the balls a little longer and the inside will become firmer.

Why is takoyaki creamy?

Again, the reason why takoyaki is creamy is that the batter is a bit runny and the octopus meat is very tender and soft.

It’s not the type of cake or pancake batter that goes spongey, instead, it stays watery because of the dashi stock and soy sauce.

If you want to make the interior of the takoyaki even creamier, all you have to use is use about 150 grams of cake flour instead of white flour.

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An interesting fact is that takoyaki contains tenkasu, which is fried tempura bits, and this is supposed to keep the inside of the octopus balls a little crunchy.

However, if you don’t eat the takoyaki while piping hot, the tempura starts to melt and go gooey so it contributes to that creamy texture.

You can reheat takoyaki, just follow these quick & easy methods

Tasting takoyaki

Takoyaki’s gooey taste gives it a creamy texture that the Japanese love. However, even they will admit it takes some getting used to.

Tourists who have not grown accustomed to the taste wonder if it’s undercooked. But if they are experiencing a gooey, creamy taste, most likely it is not.

Some claim to have eaten takoyaki which does not have a gooey center.

It has been speculated that the dish is made differently in different parts of Japan and that certain regions prepare it so it is cooked through while others leave the center gooey.

It is unclear whether there is any truth to this theory and there is no information to be found on how takoyaki is prepared in different parts of Japan.

However, it was popularized in Osaka and that is still the region that is known for the dish.

So if you’re eating takoyaki in Osaka, you are most likely eating it prepared the way it’s meant to be.

If you’re wondering if that takoyaki you are tasting is supposed to be gooey inside, you have your answer.

Of course, there is no accounting for tastes. If you don’t like it…don’t eat it! There is always other amazing Japanese street food to try.

How do you know the takoyaki is cooked?

Well, the easiest way to make sure the takoyaki is cooked is to let them cook for about 3 minutes, then flip them over and cook them for another 3 minutes.

Then, keep flipping them 90 degrees after 2 minutes to ensure every part of the ball is thoroughly cooked.

The final texture must have a golden brown color, a crispy texture on the outside, and a gooey soft inside.

When cooking, you have to break up the batter around the balls, especially if you use a takoyaki pan with no lines between the molds.

As soon as the takoyaki is crispy, you always need to rotate them and push the remaining batter inside the mold.

Whether you’re using a takoyaki maker or takoyaki pan at home, your need to keep turning the balls around to ensure they cook evenly and have the same amount of browning all over.

I have more tips & tricks on how to properly flip takoyaki balls here.

Once crispy and brown, you can add the takoyaki sauce and toppings like bonito flakes for authentic Japanese street food served in the comfort of your own home.

Did you know the bonito flakes are what can make your takoyaki seem to move?

Ever had trouble finding Japanese recipes that were easy to make?

We now have "cooking Japanese with ease", our full recipe book and video course with step-by-step tutorials on your favorite recipes.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.