I finally decided to try making tako yaki. Tako yaki is, in my opinion one of the popular junk foods found within Japan. It’s a ball-sized snack made of flour based batter and cooked in a special tako yaki pan like this one:
These are filled with minced octopus (tako-meaning octopus in Japanese) and another assortment of toppings: tempura scraps, picked ginger, and green onion. They are then sprinkled with a green laver and bonito flakes. They are generally associated with food vendors, but they do have specialty restaurants particularly in Osaka and Kansai. My mother was born in the Osaka/Kansai area and so there were nights when we, as a family, made takoyaki at home. Because my sister and I hated octopus, my family made a variety of takoyaki with different fillings. There was the traditional octopus filled takoyaki for my dad and my mom and the beef filled ones for me and my sister. Later we began experimenting, filling a couple with shrimp, adding cheese to the beef filled ones, making some with beef and shrimp (I guess it was our version of surf and turf). Anyway, I loved making takoyaki. I loved flipping the dough and trying to make that perfectly shaped sphere. When I went off to college this year, my dad got me a takoyaki pan but I was too busy to try it out. Plus when I asked my mom for the recipe she was very vague about the measurements. Finally, I looked it up and found a recipe for takoyaki that seemed pretty good. Looking through that and using it as a spring board, I tried to recall what my mom had told me and made the batter. While I made three batches (the first being perfect, the second being a little too thick, and the third too thin), I think my first time making takoyaki by myself was pretty successful. I mean while some of the batches came out shaped a little wonky, they still tasted delicious.
So what are we waiting for? Let’s get cooking!
Ingredients:Batter: – 2 ladles full of dashi (a broth made of water, konbu [kelp] and bonito flakes) -1/2 cup flour -3 eggs Ingredients: -ground beef -scallions (or negi if you have it) optional -octopus -pickled ginger (benishoga) -tempura scraps (tenkasu) Topping: –bulldog sauce or -tako yaki sauce
- Make the dashi by filling a pot with water and adding in the konbu. Before you add the konbu, cut it into a 10 cm long piece and cut a few slits into it (against the grain). Heat the water at medium temperature until the water begins to simmer. Once the water begins to simmer, remove the konbu from the water. The water should smell like the ocean. Add in the bonito flakes for about a minute or two and then remove them.
- Let the dashi cool. Add the dashi, flour and eggs to a mixing bowl and mix until well combined.
- Place the ingredients into separate bowls. Meanwhile, heat the tako yaki pan and oil it with either olive oil or vegetable oil until it is very well oiled.
- Once the pan is hot enough, add in the ground beef into each cup and cook until the beef is browned. Pour the batter into the cups until the batter starts to overfill (I suggest using a large gravy boat or a tea pot to pour in the batter). Add in the other ingredients (the scallions, benishoga, tenkasu) and cook until the tako yaki is ready to flip. This should take about 3-4 minutes.
- Once you think the tako yaki is ready to flip, insert a metal or bamboo skewer along the edge of the cup and, basically, draw a circle. That sounds hard, but you’re basically outlining the circumference of the cups. Be swift with this as the speed will allow the takoyaki to rotate 180 degrees.
- Cook until it’s well browned and cooked through. Remove from the pan, top with the sauce and other toppings and enjoy!
I will definitely make these again because they are one of my favorite things to eat. I really do need to watch my mom make the batter though, so maybe I can get the right consistency. Despite everything I was really happy with what I made and both Pat and my friend enjoyed it. We also talked about how vegetarians can enjoy this by simply replacing the meat and making it without any filling, but I’m sure you could also add in some vegetables like onions and peppers.
Hugs and Puppies!