This classic takoyaki recipe by Just One Cookbook is a no-fail recipe that I’ve made again and again with success every time. Definitely a must-try!
We’ve been fans of takoyaki for quite a long time around here. I mean, my family has always been fans of Japanese food in general, but I think it’s safe to say takoyaki has a special place in the stomachs of the people in this household. I remember it started when my parents used to buy big boxes of freshly cooked takoyaki from Cartimar. I was still a teenager back then, and Cartimar was more or less the only place you could get authentic tasting, above average takoyaki. My youngest brother especially loves the stuff, and if he was left to his own devices he could eat half the box by himself in one sitting. That would be, what, 12 pieces?
To be fair, there are now plenty of places you could get above average takoyaki here in Manila. Yet there can probably be no better way to prove a love for takoyaki other than actually buying a takoyaki pan with the intention of learning to make it at home. My mom bought our takoyaki pan many many years ago, when she saw it on sale and probably though that us kids could eat as many pieces of takoyaki as we want for a fraction of the price if we made it here at home.
Funnily enough, the pan was left untouched for many years, until last year that is. The year when we were all forced to stay at home and dust off the appliances in storage to check which ones still worked. And that was the start of our takoyaki making adventures at home. At the beginning it was a little nerve wracking. I was really concerned that I wouldn’t get all the add-on’s in before I needed to turn the balls around.
As it turns out, the balls need quite a bit of time before the first side is cooked enough to turn. I had to wait a few minutes even once I’ve gotten everything in the pan. The turning and forming the balls also has a learning curve, but you kind of figure out a way that works for you as you make more takoyaki.
I wasn’t kidding when I said I’ve made this recipe several times already. It’s easy, it’s delicious, and it’s no-fail. What more could you ask for in a recipe really? Just One Cookbook has never failed me when it comes to recipes like these. And I’ll gladly keep using this recipe as a base for experimenting on other takoyaki flavors in the future.
- WHERE TO BUY OCTOPUS? We purchase pre-cooked octopus from the Korean mart in vacuum sealed packaging. I think this is the most convenient form to buy if you’re going to use it for takoyaki. If you can only manage to source uncooked octopus, make sure to cook it first in boiling water. Just dip it in and out of the water until it changes color. Make sure you don’t overcook so it doesn’t become tough.
- WHERE TO BUY TAKOYAKI PAN? There are now plenty of choices online for takoyaki pans, from stove top molds to electric takoyaki pans. My pan is an electric one, and as I mentioned my mother bought it on sale (from S&R) a long long time ago. The advantage of an electric takoyaki pan is that it’s easier to manage the cleanup. I also feel that it’s safer because the pan itself fits snuggly on top of the base where the heating element is. There is no reason for it to accidentally slip or burn anyone. The only issue is that the heat distribution is a little spotty because of the shape of the heating element. Likewise, if you use a stovetop mold, you will probably also have some heat distribution issues too. It’s down to a matter of budget and your comfort level with having the hot mold on top of your stove.
- CAN I SKIP THIS OR THAT? All the add-on ingredients for making the classic takoyaki add flavor and texture to the takoyaki. I highly recommend that you purchase them all and not skip any one element.
- HOW MUCH DO I FILL THE PAN? Do not scrimp on the add-on’s for the takoyaki, but also do not overfill the takoyaki holes so you won’t have too difficult a time turning the balls. This also applies to the batter. Avoid overfilling the holes and the flat surfaces until the takoyaki pan is close to overflowing. Remember that the batter will surge out of the cavities once you drop the octopus in, so make some room for that.
- HOW DO I FORM THE BALLS? The other side of the takoyaki ball will be made up of the batter from the flat surface, which you will tuck into the takoyaki ball as you flip. The uncooked batter inside the ball itself will also spill out to the bottom when you flip the takoyaki. Ideally, you want to spin the ball when the outside has began to look golden and toasted, but the inside is still wet. If you find that the takoyaki won’t create a nice round, pour a little bit more batter into the hole. Once you more or less have a round shape, you want to spin the ball round and round every once in a while to smooth out the surface. It’s very hard to explain without showing, so I suggest you just check out the video.
- HOW DO I KNOW IF THEY’RE DONE? I usually just look at the coloring of the takoyaki before I take them out of the pan. It’s a safe bet that the takoyaki is cooked through when the outside looks nice and golden brown all over. It’s up to you if you want to cook the outside to a crisp, but the inside should stay fairly soft and even kind of gooey or mushy. That’s the best kind of takoyaki because then you’ll have some nice textural contrast with the octopus and the crunchy veggies inside.
- OTHER FLAVOR IDEAS? If you want to mix up your takoyaki, you can switch the octopus for other things. (It wouldn’t be a “tako” yaki anymore though!) Try sausage and mozzarella with a sprinkling of parmesan on top, or corn and shrimp with a sprinkling of curry powder on top. You can even go with kimchi and spam/bacon with a bit of chili powder on top. The choices are endless!
For the add-on's
- 120 grams cooked octopus, cut into bite-sized chunks
- 1/8 cup 2 grams katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes), ground or shredded*
- 1/8 cup chopped green onions/scallions
- 1½ Tablespoons beni shoga, pickled red ginger
- ¼ cup tenkasu, tempura scraps
For the takoyaki batter
- 1 cup 120 grams all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1½ cup 360 mL dashi (Japanese soup stock)
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce, optional
- 2 Tablespoons neutral-flavored oil, for cooking
For the toppings, as much as you like
- Takoyaki Sauce, or Tonkatsu sauce
- Japanese mayonnaise
- Katsuobushi, dried bonito flakes*
- Aonori, dried green seaweed
- Before making the takoyaki batter, make sure you have all your add-on ingredients on the ready.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Add in the eggs, dashi, and soy sauce (if using). Whisk until well-combined and a homogenous, runny batter is formed. Transfer to a 2-cup measuring jug with a spout. (Keep your whisk close as you may need to mix the batter between batches if the batter separates.)
- Heat up your takoyaki pan. I use an electric one, but generally you want to place it over medium heat until it reaches around 400 ºF (200 ºC). Using a brush, generously oil the takoyaki pan, both the holes and the flat areas. (Be generous with the oil as this will make turning the takoyaki easier later on.) Once the pan starts smoking, it's hot enough to start cooking.
- Pour the batter to fill the holes and allow the batter to flow across the flat surfaces in a thin layer. Keep in mind that the batter in holes will also rise when you add the octopus in so allow for an allowance. You want the whole plate to be filled but not to overflow down the sides.
- Drop in the octopus, about 2 pieces per hole, then sprinkle in katsuoboshi, green onions, beni shoga, and tenkasu. Don't worry, you'll have ample time to get all the add-on's in before needing to turn the takoyaki.
- Allow the takoyaki to cook for about 3 to 4 minutes, until the bottom is lightly golden but the inside still has some liquid. Use your skewer to slice off the connecting batter on the flat surface, then turn the takoyaki ball 90 degrees, tucking all the excess batter in as you do. The remaining liquid in the center of the balls, as well as the batter from the flat surfaces, will form the bottom half of your takoyaki ball. Cook another 3 to 4 minutes.
- Turn the takoyaki balls about 45 degrees every once in a while to evenly cook and brown the surface and to create nice round shape. Feel free to add a bit more batter if some of the balls need it. Usually the takoyaki balls positioned at the center of the pan cook faster due to unequal heat distribution, so feel free to swap the balls around.
- Once the takoyaki balls have browned all around, transfer to a plate using your skewers. Immediately squeeze on mayo and takoyaki sauce, then sprinkle katsuobushi and aonori as desired. Serve immediately. Takoyaki balls are best eaten warm but be careful as they may burn your tongue if freshly cooked. The outside will be nice and slightly crisped, but the inside is soft and gooey.
FLAVOR SUGGESTIONS: If you want to mix up your takoyaki, you can switch the octopus for other things. (It wouldn't be a "tako" yaki anymore though!) I love using a sausage and mozarella with a sprinkling of parmesan on top, or corn and shrimp with a sprinkling of curry powder on top, as well as kimchi and spam or bacon with a bit of chili powder on top. The choices are endless! Adapted from Just One Cookbook blog
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