In this post, i just want to answer one question for you, and that’s:
What does Takoyaki taste like?
Takoyaki has a soft texture and is very moist. You would feel like it melts inside your mouth as you chew. This salty snack has a savory oceanic flavor coming from the chewy octopus inside of it. You will notice a hint of kelp flavor from the dashi on the ball batter. The toppings enhance the complexity of its taste.
As a rule of thumb, if you like how octopus tastes, most likely you will love takoyaki. But let’s get to know more about this popular snack!
Now, for you to understand it’s taste I’ll give you a bit more background information on this snack, but if you’d like to learn more on Takoyaki and it’s recipes you should really also read this post I’ve written on it.
In this post we'll cover:
What is Takoyaki?
Takoyaki is the most loved and well-known street food from Japan, which has a perfectly round shape. The bite-sized ball is commonly served on a paper plate and two toothpicks. Most takoyaki has an octopus block as fillings.
But, you can also find ones with other food as fillings.
Takoyaki has multiple toppings to serve, including katsuobushi, takoyaki sauce, and Japanese mayo. Sometimes, people also sprinkle some bits of chili flakes or powder to add spiciness to the food.
As Japan’s number one street food, you would be able to find them easily from street vendors with stalls called yatai.
They are also widely available in traditional markets and festivals. If you are fond of Japanese cuisine, takoyaki must be on your try list.
To eat the takoyaki, hold the toothpicks the same way you hold chopsticks. But instead of tweezing the food with them, you spear it with them.
Vendors serve takoyaki right away after it is taken out of the stove because all the taste and aroma will gradually fade as the dish cools off. Hence, be careful not to burn your mouth.
History of Takoyaki
Takoyaki was originally from Osaka, circa 1935. The octopus fried ball is a transformation of what used to be called choboyaki. Choboyaki has similar ingredients as takoyaki.
But instead of a round ball, choboyaki was more like a flat square. Another difference is the filling, as choboyaki uses beef instead of the octopus.
Choboyaki then evolved to rajioyaki, the very same food but with a ball-shaped like today’s takoyaki.
People still use beef as fillings, although it was not so long before people started switching it with octopus. This marked the birth of takoyaki.
This street snack gained its popularity real fast due to the unique octopus flavor. The chewy texture and light flavor of the briny meat makes a wonderful complement with the dashi and toppings.
People also try out many other things to use as fillings, but the name Takoyaki remains.
You can have the ball snack filled with shrimp, cheese, or tofu (for vegan option). Yet still, up until now, the most popular version is the octopus.
Takoyaki in Osaka
Although Takoyaki has now been widely popular and available throughout Japan, you still need to go to Osaka if you aim for an ultimate culinary adventure with these fried balls.
The town has more than 650 takoyaki stores, with subtle taste differences between one to another.
While most people serve takoyaki with multiple toppings, in Osaka you will see some takoyaki is garnished only with a pinch of salt to highlight the strong dashi flavor in the batter.
Another variation of a takoyaki is takosen, which is two takoyaki balls sandwiched between two crackers.
How to Make Takoyaki
The ingredients to make takoyaki are not hard to find. And even the process is pretty simple. However, you will need that special pan with round-shape molds.
- 480 ml of dashi soup
- 2 eggs
- 5 ml of Japanese soy sauce
- A pinch of salt
- 240 ml of flour
- 150 grams of octopus, diced
- 3 bars of green onions, finely chopped
- 30 ml pickled red ginger
- Cooking oil
- Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, except for the octopus
- Heat the pan and pour oil generously.
- Pour the batter onto the pan in medium heat
- Put in the octopus or whatever fillings you intend to cook
- Leave them be for about 2 minutes
- Turn each one of them so the runny batter will flow as the round crust turns up. This will create perfect ball shapes for every takoyaki cooked.
- Let them be for 3-4 minutes until the takoyaki turns golden brown
- Take them out of the stove and serve immediately with toppings
When pouring oil to the pan, make sure that the oil covers every surface of the pan. Each ball mold needs to have at least a 5 mm depth of oil in it. Lack of oil will cause the batter to stick to the pan. So when you try to flip the ball, it will be ruined.
The best oil I like to use for Asian style frying is this rice bran oil you can get from a lot of Asian markets. You should read the article to be able to make the perfect Takoyaki balls without adding too much flavor through the oil you use.
Takoyaki goes with the Japanese the same way the sandwich goes with Americans. Everybody loves this comfort food. Even tourists that come to Japan would mostly like the flavor of Takoyaki.
So if you have any chance to take a bite on these octopus spherical snacks, you better not to skip it.
Check out my post on Japanese furikake as well as there are bonito flakes in there as well and you can add the mix to so many Asian dishes to add some salty flavor.