Simple authentic takoyaki street food recipe

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  August 4, 2022

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Most Japanese words are a combination of two distinct words fused into one to describe someone or something, in this case, 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 to grill.

Takoyaki is often referred to as “konamono”, which literally just means “flour things”. It falls into the same konamono category as Okonomiyaki and Ikayaki as they are all prepared with a flour batter (called “Kona” in Japanese).

5 Essential ingredients for authentic takoyaki

To make traditional takoyaki, you need 5 ingredients. Here they are.

  1. Dashi Flavored Batter – to make dashi flavored batter, add dashi stock cubes dissolved in water to your batter.
  2. Octopus – you need boiled octopus meat.
  3. Beni Shoga – red pickled ginger bits give color and flavor to the takoyaki.
  4. Tenkasu – tempura scraps add that rich umami flavor to the food. They make the takoyaki crispy and creamy. 
  5. Spring Onion – this is the best way to add some color and flavor to the takoyaki. Spring onion is a popular topping. 
Takoyaki-balls-Japanese-streetfood

Simple Authentic Takoyaki (octopus balls) recipe

Joost Nusselder
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 is just the eggs and water.
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Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Snack
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 4 people

Equipment

  • Takoyaki pan or maker

Ingredients
  

Takoyaki batter

  • 10 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 1/4 cups water (1 liter)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp kombu dashi stock you can use granules
  • 1/2 tsp katsuobushi dashi stock you can use granules
  • 2 tsp soy sauce

Filling

  • 15 ounces boiled octopus in cubes or you can use any other type of protein as a filling, although it wouldn't really be takoyaki
  • 2 green onions sliced
  • 1/3 cup tenkasu tempura bits (or use rice krispies)
  • 2 tbsp beni shoga (red pickled ginger)

Toppings

  • 1 bottle Japanese mayonnaise add to taste
  • 1 bottle Takoyaki sauce (you can buy it bottled at a lot of the Asian groceries, you can't miss it with the picture of takoyaki on the front)
  • 1 tbsp bonito flakes
  • 1 tbsp Aonori or seaweed strips (Aonori is a type of powdered seaweed)

Instructions
 

  • 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.
  • Now, add the takoyaki fillings to the batter in the takoyaki pan. First, add 1 or 2 pieces of octopus to each ball, a bit of green onions in each ball, a bit of tempura, and 1 or 2 pieces of beni shoga.
  • Two to 3 minutes into cooking the takoyaki, when the bottom of the balls starts to harden, break apart the batter between the balls with your pick or skewers.
  • You may now flip it over in order for the other side to cook. Use a takoyaki pick when flipping the ball over in order to not ruin its spherical shape. You must turn the ball 90 degrees when flipping. If you can’t turn the takoyaki easily, it probably needs to cook for a bit longer.
  • When you poke the takoyaki to turn it over, some batter flows out and that's okay. Stuff it back in with the pick and add more batter if the ball loses its shape.
  • Let it sit in the pan for another 60 seconds before flipping it over. Turn the balls over repeatedly every 45-60 seconds for the next 5 minutes. 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 takoyaki 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.
Keyword Takoyaki
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

This YouTube video shows exactly how to make takoyaki batter for this recipe:

You can also buy a ready-made takoyaki batter mix to make this step easier for yourself and get the flavor just right.

Now the octopus balls might get a bit oily from the deep-frying so it’s a good idea to keep paper towels nearby. I like to line a bowl with the paper and put each piece onto it so it can soak up some of the oil before you eat it.

The most important thing is that you use quality octopus when making these since all of the flavor and chewy texture will come from it!

Diced octopus arms

Tips for cooking takoyaki

  • When you prepare your ingredients it’s best to cut the beni shoga pickled ginger into fine slices and cut everything into small pieces so that it fits in the batter. 
  • Beni shoga has a specific pickled taste so it depends on how much you like the flavor. Add 3 pieces if you like it a lot or just 1 for a mild taste.
  • You can add 1-3 pieces of octopus per ball depending on your pan size and how small you cut the octopus pieces. 
  • When you flip the balls over the first few times, some additional batter pours out. So, with picks, press the batter back into the ball. You might have to add more uncooked batter back into the mold to get that perfect round shape. That’s because a lot of batter overflows and you must constantly break up the batter between the balls in the pan or machine. 

How do you boil octopus for takoyaki?

All the recipes call for boiled octopus but it’s important to know how to do it properly. 

Boiling octopus is quite a meticulous process and it can all go wrong in an instant which makes the meat way too chewy and firm. 

While we already have an article about how to cook octopus, I want to discuss how to boil the octopus specifically for takoyaki. 

Favorite Asian Recipes
Favorite Asian Recipes

If you’re using a fresh octopus, you need to remove the beak with your knife then pull it out outwards. This should remove most of the organs inside too but then you can have to clean it out inside to remove all the innards.

If you’re just using cleaned frozen octopus meat, skip the cleaning step. 

Now, grab a large pot and fill it with water. Add a couple of pinches of salt. Next, bring the water to a simmer. 

It’s time to put the octopus in the simmering water so slowly lower the octopus into the water. At this point, the legs begin to curl and that’s a good sign that your water is at the right temperature.

Let the octopus simmer for 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of your octopus. The larger the animal, the longer it needs to cook. If you’re cooking a small, or baby octopus, don’t exceed the 30 minutes or it will become too tender and mushy.

Once cooked, remove the octopus from the pot. Takoyaki is best served with tender gooey meat so I recommend removing the dark red skin while the meat is still hot. 

After you’ve removed the skin, you can dice the meat into small 1.5 cm cubes or about 1/2 inch. 

How many octopus pieces per ball?

You’re probably wondering how many octopus pieces are necessary for one takoyaki ball. 

Some recipes call for 1 piece of octopus per ball while some tell you to put 2 or wing it and just decide depending on how much it takes for the batter to overflow in the pan. 

It’s up to you but if you cut the octopus into 1/2 inch or smaller you can put two to get that perfect gooey texture and seafood flavor. But, if your pieces are a bit chunkier and larger, 1 piece of octopus per takoyaki is enough. 

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).

Often, some diced scallions or green onions are also added and tenkasu tempura bits and some pickled ginger to add to the flavor.

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. Think of it as tempura batter crumbs. 

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.

Add a pop of color to Takoyaki with some red pickled ginger. It gives the octopus balls a refreshing, yet pungent taste when you take a bite. 

What is takoyaki batter like?

The takoyaki batter is runny and similar to that of okonomiyaki

The similarity between the two batters comes from the fact that they are both made with wheat flour and dashi stock.

Therefore, the batters have a similar texture, appearance, and flavor because they’re basically made of the same ingredients. What differs is the ingredients, shape, and cooking method. 

Conclusion

You see, there’s nothing mysterious or difficult about making authentic Japanese takoyaki. You can do it yourself in your own kitchen.

If you want some more flavor variations check out these best takoyaki recipes here

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.