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Posted on Jun 27, 2007 | 77 comments

Tutorial: Making takoyaki

Tutorial: Making takoyaki

Takoyaki

Having lived in Osaka for years, I miss classic Kansai street food like takoyaki (octopus balls), but buying them frozen in a bag just isn’t the same. So last year I bit the bullet and bought a takoyaki griddle so I can have the real thing at home in San Francisco. Making takoyaki at home is something of a recent trend in Japan, and the last time I was there I saw gas and electric tabletop takoyaki griddles, instant mix for the batter, and the Japanese friend I stayed with made us all takoyaki for dinner one night. Her tips on technique (and notes from Japanese cookbook “Okonomiyaki Takoyaki Monjayaki“) gave me the courage to try it myself; I hope you’ll be similarly encouraged by this tutorial if you’ve got access to the ingredients. Thanks, Saito-san! (You can freeze these and pull them out one at a time to pack in a lunch like this.)

Takoyaki tutorial
Full takoyaki tutorial follows…

Making Takoyaki (Octopus Balls)

(for 3 small servings or 1.5 regular servings)

For a technique demonstration, check out the takoyaki-making videos at www.takoyaki.org and YouTube. Takoyaki.org also has a forum with all kinds of discussions about takoyaki and a takoyaki sauce recipe (all takoyaki, all the time!). Electric tabletop pans are available at a premium on eBay (watch the voltage!), but the cast-iron pans that work well on gas burners are more widely available. In the San Francisco area, I’ve seen them at Daiso and Kamei (see my local shopping guide), and of course you can get them through Amazon as well.

Batter:

  • 4/5 cup (100g) prepackaged takoyaki mix. If unavailable, substitute a scant 4/5 cup (90g) flour, 1 tsp (5g) instant hondashi granules (bonito stock), 3/4 tsp (3g) grated “nagaimo” mountain yam (optional, but fabulous for tender texture), and 1/4 tsp (1g) baking powder
  • 340cc cold water (a scant 1 & 1/2 cups)
  • 1 large egg

For the filling:

  • 1/4 lb (120g) cooked octopus (Japanese prefer the tentacles), cut into 1/2″ or bite-sized dice (NOTE: If you like, you can substitute other things for the octopus such as cheese, chicken, pork, squid, anko — bean paste, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup (18g) tenkasu (crunchy fried tempura batter bits — if unavailable, use Rice Krispies)
  • 1 Tb (6g) beni shoga (red pickled ginger), chopped
  • one half green onion, chopped (a.k.a. scallion, spring onion)

For the topping:

  • takoyaki sauce (or substitute okonomiyaki sauce, yakisoba sauce, or even tonkatsu sauce)
  • aonori (seaweed flakes)
  • katsuobushi (bonito flakes)
  • mayonnaise (Optional: I like Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise, but any standard mayo in a squeeze bottle will work.)
  1. Make the batter by whisking together the mix and water well, then beating in the egg. (If not using a mix, grate the nagaimo on the finest holes of a box grater, combine with the water, flour, hondashi and baking powder.) Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the tenkasu, benishoga and green onion. Keep octopus at hand.
  3. If using a nonstick takoyaki pan, heat the pan first, then oil the surface with cooking oil spray, an oil brush or a folded paper towel dipped in vegetable oil. (If using cast iron, oil the pan first, then heat over medium heat.) Follow the steps in the tutorial below to cook. These can be flash-frozen on a metal pan in the freezer, then transferred to a plastic freezer bag for longer-term storage.

Electric takoyaki pan An electric tabletop takoyaki griddle with nonstick coating. You can also make these with a cast iron takoyaki pan pan on your gas stove (over medium heat). Cast iron pans are often sold with little brushes for oiling the little cups, but a cooking oil spray like Pam works well too. I’m hoping that this pan will also work for Thai kanom krok or Danish aebelskiver pancakes.
Takoyaki sauce and mix Takoyaki sauce (Hiroshima’s Otafuku brand shown) and takoyaki mix (Nissn brand, note the drawing of Osaka’s famous Tsutenkaku tower on the package — near my old neighborhood of Shitennoji!) — just add water and egg. If you can’t find takoyaki sauce, you can also use okonomiyaki sauce, yakisoba sauce, or even tonkatsu sauce .
Takoyaki batter on griddle First, pour the prepared batter to fill the griddle halfway up. Add a cube of octopus to each little cup, then sprinkle the mixture of tenkasu, ginger and green onions liberally over the top. Pour more batter over the griddle until it lightly floods the remaining surface.
Takoyaki rolling on electric pan Let the takoyaki cook for a few minutes until the bottom has started to harden. Trying to turn them when the bottoms are still soft will damage the appearance and texture of the takoyaki! Before turning, drag a wooden or bamboo skewer (or metal skewer if using a cast iron pan) between the little molds in a grid pattern to cut/separate the batter on the surface of the pan. Pierce the bottom-front of the takoyaki (the 4 o’clock position) with the skewer and use a circular scooping motion to roughly flip the half-ball over, so that the uncooked batter flows out into the mold to form a ball. Tuck remaining batter bits into the ball with the skewer.
Takoyaki on electric griddle When you first turn them, they won’t be perfectly round. Don’t worry, just continue to flip them around in the little cups with a skewer as they cook and they’ll take shape. You can see that the first ones I turned on the left are rounder and browner as I flip them. I like to let them crisp up before taking them out to eat.
Sauced takoyaki When they’re done, they should be a little crispy on the outside and have a hollow sound when tapped. Put some on your plate and top with takoyaki sauce, katsuobushi (bonito flakes ) and aonori (seaweed flakes). I like them Osaka-style with a little Kewpie mayonnaise as well, but that’s personal preference. Watch out! They’ll be hot!



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  1. Oh you mentioned taiyaki!! speaking of taikyaki, do you know where in SF i can buy a fish shaped taiyaki pan/mold?

  2. @66 from Linda: I believe I’ve seen the fish-shaped taiyaki pans at both Kamei (on Clement Street) and Daiso (Daly City, although I could be wrong). Best to call each of them before you get in the car, though!

  3. Thanks for letting me know!! haha I don’t own a car so it’s okay, no gas spent :P

  4. Hi Biggie,

    I saw the same takoyaki pan on ebay and would like to buy but would like some advice on ingredients before buying.
    Both my son and daughter have an egg, wheat and milk allergy. I can replace the wheat with wheat free flour but do you have any advice on what I can use to replace the egg?

  5. Might be a stupid question – but have you ever tried the griddle to make meatballs? I’m still looking for a technique to get round meatballs instead of pancake-shaped ones. If I could combine them with takoyaki, a griddle would be a gread investment :)

  6. @69 from Jo: Golly, Jo, I’m not sure I have good advice for you on what to substitute for egg in takoyaki. How do you usually compensate for the rising in other egg-free cooking?

  7. @70 from Darina: Hmm, I haven’t actually tried using the takoyaki pan to make meatballs. It’s an interesting idea, though! Theoretically I don’t see why it wouldn’t work…

  8. My kids diet are mainly based on rice as we are chinese. I’ve thought about using egg replacer but I think that only works with cakes.

  9. i always wanted to know how to make them! one i ate in a anime convetion and i love it!

  10. Thanks for the recipe and tutorial! I just got the pan, so I can’t wait to make them.

    I tried using nagaimo (in another recipe) the other day. But as soon as I had peeled the skin away, my hands started getting itchy and became red. It seems that I am allergic to nagaimo. Have you heard of anyone else having this reaction? Thanks!

  11. I really miss Japanese foods and you have awesome recipes! Do you know how to make okonomiyaki (I think that’s how it’s spelled in English) at home?

  12. Hi Biggie,

    Can u advise whts the brand of ur electric takoyaki mould? Thks!! Thinking of buying one – so tht i can try out ur awesome takoyaki recipe!! Thks!

  13. I bought all the ingredients and I got the batter mix for the takyoaki. My problem is I cant read the directions on the back of it. I can tell it says 100 grams and thats for the mix and 1 egg but the measurements for the water I dont know how to convert. It says 340 cc, what does that convert into?

  14. I found this site for volume/weight conversions in cooking:

    http://www.lemelange.com/conversion_chart.htm

    It looks like 340 cc is a little less than a cup and a half.

    I ran into a similar problem with Korean powdered pancakes.

    Also, Pyrex measuring cups have both styles of measuring on the side, so if you buy one 2 cup measuring cup, you should be covered.

  15. @Kelly / Linden: Actually, cc of water is equivalent to mL, so if you have a dual-unit measure you could measure directly.

    However, the actual conversion is approximately 1.5 cups, not 0.5 cups. :)

  16. Hi biggie! Thanks for the recipe. My 9 year old daughter loves these balls very much. We are from the Philippines and the store where we buy these balls doesn’t use octopus. They use shredded cabbage but they’re really delicious. Can’t wait to try your recipe. I still have to buy the takoyaki pans and the other ingredients,but I would substitute cabbage for the octopus. Wish me luck.

  17. i was considering making these and putting them in my bento box. would these be good if eaten cold or re-heated?

  18. I recently had some takoyaki at Otafuku (a takoyaki/okonomiyaki/yakisoba joint in NYC) and was really disappointed! I had a bite and I couldn’t stomach another one. The ball was soggy and runny on the inside. I was wondering if you could tell me if that was the right texture because I’d really love to give it another chance! I feel like I’m missing out on something big here!

    Thanks!

  19. Thank you for your wonderful recipe. They came out delicious. I used a pancake puff pan from Target (only $2.48) and it worked out well. I ran out of octopus tentacle and substituted shrimp and it was just as delicious. Thank you again.

  20. Do the takoyaki last or do they have to be eaten right away? Would it be a good idea to make a batch and eat it later?

  21. i want these bad. I found they exist because they were mentioned in some rpg video games I have. but I can get not even half the ingredients

    how was it “invented” the history of this snack/food/meal? like how so many other foods were born. I once made a round fried things with leftover corn and shrimp and threw in some other things.

    one store 25 minutes away has healthy food, and they have the bonito flakes. maybe the broth. otherwise I guess it’s fish and shrimp bullion cubes.

    octopus maybe. like ones in cans are easier to get.

    is there a way to make a Takoyaki inspired FutoMaki? or is that “wrong” or a bad idea?

  22. Hi, I too have recently discovered takoyaki and I am pretty happy with the results. The one thing I have noticed is that once they cool they seem to deflate. Is this normal? I have read that I can freeze them. Can this be done? How do I keep them looking nice and round?
    So many questions…..I know :)

    Lina

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