Takoyaki is Osaka-Japan’s favorite street food that has taken the world by storm. From Asia to America and to Europe, the octopus’ appetizers are sampled and enjoyed by many. I bet you must have at least seen them somewhere if not eaten them.
Although most people love this delicacy, they know not that they can easily make them at home. Note that, making the takoyaki starts with having the right tools like the right pan and ingredients to use. Today we take a look at the takoyaki pans.
What is takoyaki?
It’s not a rare circumstance to see the Japanese lining up, in a wait to buy and eat these delicious yet richly flavored street foods.
Takoyaki is basically the Japanese ball like snacks that are made using wheat flour batter that is normally cooked in a takoyaki pan. It’s mostly filled with the minced or diced and cooked octopus, tempura, green onion, ginger and garlic.
Reasons for Takoyaki Popularity
I would gladly say that the reason why the Osaka delicacy is popular is its rich taste but that is just half the truth of the matter.
If you want to taste the famous umami flavors of Japan, you must eat takoyaki. It features a balance of flavors that will get you hooked once you try it.
It has a crispy outer side that’s aromatic with smooth and soft inner dough. It’s then usually eaten by dipping it in a richly flavored sauce.
Other times, you eat it as taken. This is just the takoyaki balls that are wrapped in a sandwich cracker.
The octopus balls are enjoyed by all those who love eating tentacles from octopus and other sea creatures. Of course, there are a whole lot of people who enjoy seafood no wonder the meal is popular.
The other thing that makes it popular is the presentation of the food. You will notice the chef rapidly pouring batter in the steel pan, adding the diced or minced and cooked octopus then molding into place.
Furthermore, they only use two stick-like utensils to turn the balls so that they cook on both sides. To me, cooking takoyaki is artistic. I literary enjoy watching the cooking process.
You can also make the meal when you have the right tools. You don’t have to go to your favorite restaurants for it all the time.
What Is Takoyaki Made Of?
As earlier stated, the takoyaki is made using the wheat batter and cooked octopus in the ball. The takoyaki is then served with Aonori seaweeds and dried bonito fish flakes that are sprinkled over the octopus ball.
Its also served with the takoyaki sauce and mayonnaise. This is just the basic style of making takoyaki. You can have your toppings containing green onions, soy sauce among others. For some regions in Japan like Akashi city, the takoyaki is eaten without the sauce and it’s called Take Akashiyaki.
This is to show you that there may be varying ingredients in different regions of Japan. We all, however, enjoy the original takoyaki.
Takoyaki Pan Recipe
What you need
- The takoyaki pan
- Toothpicks or wooden skewers
- 2 green onions
- 2 tbsp of pickled red ginger that is chopped
- A tsp. of soy sauce
- 2 eggs
- A cup of all-purpose wheat flour
- Baking powder
- ¼ cup of dried bonito flakes
- 5 or 6 ounces of cooked octopus either minced or diced into half
- 2 cups of dashi
- Takoyamaki sauce
- ¼ tsp salt
- Japanese mayonnaise
- Dried green seaweed
- Ensure you have all your ingredients gathered. Slice your green onions and chop/mince the red ginger. Continue to cut your octopus to bitesize pieces.
- To make the batter, take a clean bowl put your all-purpose flour, eggs, soy sauce, dashi and salt then mix them well using a whisker.
- Heat your pan to about 400˚F over medium heat then coat the pan with enough oilto avoid sticking. Oil both the holes and the flat places. Watch the pan heating and when you see smoke, pour your batter to fill the pan holes.
- Next, add three pieces of octopus in each hole followed by green onions and red ginger.
- Cook it for about a minute or two and then turn over using chopsticks or takoyaki turner. This is the tricky part but with practice, you will perfect your skills.
- Let the balls cook for another 3-4 minutes as you turn side to side. Once it’s nicely cooked, transfer it to a clean plate and pour the takoyaki sauce and Japanese sauce on top.
- Sprinkle the bonito flakes and Aonorithen serve hot.
Cooking the Japanese street food
How to Make Takoyaki Without the Mold
You can make takoyaki without the mold in two different methods
Using the similar ingredients above:
- Place your octopus, and the vegetables which include green onions, red ginger and other vegetables of your choice in a bowl then mix them well.
- In another bowl, make the takoyaki batter the same way we did in the procedure above. Pour your batter over the octopus and toss the octopus so that they are covered in the batter.
- Place your skillet over medium heat and mix both the ¼ tsp sesame oil and 1 tsp. vegetable oil.
- Scoop the batter the size that can make about 2 inched circles and place in the skillet.
- Cover it to cook for about 4 minutes. Flip the other side and cover to cook for about minutes place them on a paper towel to drain excess oil.
- Alternatively, just follow this recipe and deep fry for even better results.
- Finish off by pouring the sauce over it then sprinkle bonito flakes and seaweeds.
- Make a dough using the ingredients above but add more flour.
- Next, extend your dough to a thickness of about 2cm then cut them into small pieces preferably 2 ½ ×2 1/2. Mold then to balls and in each piece at the center, place 1 or 2 pieces of cooked octopus.
- Finish off by wrapping the dough to cover the octopus completely thus making balls.
- Place the oil for frying in a pot or pan let it heat up. Deep fry your balls until they are golden brown.
- Place the cooked balls in a bowl with paper towels to drain excess oil.
- Finish off by pouring the sauce over takoyaki balls as you sprinkle the bonito flakes and seaweeds.
How to Cook Frozen Takoyaki
I am one person who loves takoyaki. Unlike most people who use it as a snack for me, it acts as a main meal especially when I have those busy days. In addition, I like buying the frozen takoyaki just so that I don’t have to prepare the batter and buy the octopus to stuff in my batter.
You can cook them in three different options.
You can deep fry them to acquire a nice crusty exterior. However, this will take so much time and work that you don’t want.
Microwaving is the easiest option. This, I do when I’m so hungry yet busy to even concentrate on cooking. You just remove them from the paper then place in a dish and into the microwave.
In the oven
- The best choice is to bake them in the oven for that nice crusty exterior with a soft interior. Place the balls into the baking sheet making sure they aren’t close together to avoid sticking. Preheat your oven to about 425F then cook as you turn for an all-round crusty texture.
- I like to sprinkle the spring onion over the balls before I put into the oven for an enhanced flavor.
- Once cooked, remove from the oven and place in a plate. Pour your takoyaki sauce over the octopus balls and then the Japanese mayo and sprinkle the bonito flakes. There you are, ready to dunk into your sumptuous meal.
The Essential Tips for Making the Perfect Takoyaki
- The ingredients
Today, there are many ingredients being used to make this delicacy but for the authentic takoyaki, there are 5 must-have ingredients.
The dashi which is your flavored batter to use if you don’t intend to make the batter yourself. It’s simply a mix of dashi stock, all-purpose flour, soy sauce, baking powder and salt. You can also use the takoyaki mix if you don’t wish to make the batter from scratch.
Octopus: this meal is all about the octopus. You can buy your cooked octopus in the Japanese stores.
Pickled red ginger: this will not only give you a spicy flavor but also enhance the color of the takoyaki.
Green onion: for me, this is a must-have because I love the onion flavor. Aside from that, it gives it another rich color.
Tempura scraps: it’s rich in the umami flavors so it will make the snack more flavorful and delicious.
For the toppings: you can use whichever toppings you like but you must have the takoyaki sauce and Japanese mayo. Other must-have toppings include the bonito flakes and Aonori.
- The oil
For your meal to come out as desired, you must apply the oil everywhere on the pan holes and the flat part. The oil will aid in making the crispy skin of the takoyaki and avoid sticking. Make sure you can see a ¼ inch of oil in each of the holes.
- The batter
Be generous when pouring the batter. Pour the batter to fill the hole and even if it overflows you shouldn’t worry because your pan should be covered in the batter. Moreover, once you have your octopus pieces in the batter you can pour a little more batter to cover the octopus.
- Rotate the batter
When the bottom side of your takoyaki in the hole begins to become stiff, use the skewers to break the extra batter that’s on the flat surface. Push those extras in the hole then rotate the ball to allow the uncooked batter to also cook.
Keep turning even once it’s fully cooked for an even brown color.
- The fillings
You don’t have to use the octopus if you don’t like the octopus filling. You can use chicken, shrimp, sausage, cheese, kimchi among others.
6 Best Takoyaki Pans
This is my all-time favorite takoyaki pan. Being an electric pan, it reduces the hassle involved in cooking. It’s large enough for my family use. It makes about 24 balls per cooking. Its exterior design is lifted over the surface to avoid overflowing of the batter.
The surface is non-stick which means it quickly releases your takoyaki and cleaning the gadget is a breeze. Since it’s a Japanese model the voltage is slightly different across other parts of the world. You may need the voltage convector for easy use.
The major downside of this item is that it lacks a temperature control knob. This means that you have to shut it off when it’s getting extremely hot.
Although it’s a multi baker, it’s one of the best pans for takoyaki making. It uses electricity and only heats to 650 watts. Consider that this is a smaller yet effective item to use when you crave for those Japanese treats.
You can also use the takoyaki maker to make your meatballs. The Cucina cooker comes with a skillet for you to use in making pizzas among other favorite dishes. Lastly, it has the whoopee pie maker for making pies and brownies.
It features the non-stick surface made using safe Teflon. The item is portable yet easy to use, clean and store. Are you thinking of a friendly gift? Here is an idea for you.
Automatic takoyaki maker
This makes your work even easier. It will turn the takoyaki for you once the other side is cooked. How nice is this especially for a beginner. It will also be of great service if you like making a large batch of takoyaki because you don’t have to hassle turning them.
It uses electricity and works well for us in Japan though you might need a voltage convector to make sure it fits your countries voltage setup. It has a nonstick surface that makes it easy to release the takoyaki. Cleaning the surface is easy and the exterior only needs wiping.
The red color may act as a focal point to your kitchen or add to your kitchen décor. This maker comes alongside a kettle for you to use when pouring the mixture. This reduces the messiness caused by the splattering of the batter.
Aluminum alloy make
This is yet another high-quality item for you to use. It’s made using the aluminum alloy and it also has a nonstick coating. The aluminum is thick which allows for even cooking of the takoyaki while avoiding the burning possibility.
The pan is designed for the iwatan cassette butane stove. Understand that this product is made by the brand IWATAN. They have over the years produced vital kitchen appliances that are of superior quality. With this grill, you expect nothing less than quality service.
Cast iron takoyaki maker
The traditional design of the takoyaki maker is made using cast iron. This might be because the metal is strong and transfers even heat to your food as you are cooking. This wooden handle pan offers stability to you as you are cooking.
It features a non-stick cooking surface for easy releasing of the takoyaki and easy cleaning. You can use it to make your favorite desert ball pancakes. It features a heavy and solid construction but it is light in weight making it easy to use for your outdoor activities.
It will work on almost all kinds of stove top so let’s get cooking the takoyaki.
Japan made takoyaki maker
Of course, most of this takoyaki makers are mostly from Japan. On this D-STYLIST maker, we see an item that allows you to make only 2 pieces of octopus balls at a time. I would say this works best for those single people or students. The good part is that it produces large balls.
It works when you plug it to electricity and since it’s a Japanese construction, you may want to buy a voltage convector to use it. With this gadget, you won’t have a problem in either storage or cleaning it because it’s small in size.
Choosing the Best Takoyaki Pan
I believe I have convinced you that you can make your own takoyaki at home. All you need is the right pan, other accessories to aid in the cooking and the ingredients.
That said, you need to buy a good pan that will ease your cooking. Below are the points to consider when buying the pan.
- How does it work?
You can have a takoyaki pan that has its own heat source which is mostly the electric takoyaki pan. Other designs are just takoyaki pans that you place on your stovetops. It matters to choose one depending on the heat source you use for cooking.
- What size?
You don’t want an item that becomes stressful to store. You need to pick an item that fits on your kitchen cabinet already. Also, the size should be that which you can use to make enough balls for your family.
- For commercial or home use
This is in regards to the number of balls the pan produces in one batch. Different pans and takoyaki machines produce different batches. It all depends on where you intend to use the gadget.
If you want to use it at home, buy the normal size pans but if you want to use it for commercial purposes, buy one producing in large batches.
- Which material is used?
The most machines and pans I have seen are made using cast iron or steel. However, they may have non-stick properties. In this case, ensure that the non-stick pan is safe from the toxic chemicals. Otherwise, it’s the best preferred as it’s easy to clean.
- The budget
What amount have you set aside for this item? You will most probably get a good pan at a range of $15 and $100. However, when you are buying the big machine, it might be more expensive.
The 2 Accessories You Will Need to Cook Your Takoyaki
- The takoyaki picks
Not all takoyaki pans are automatic which leaves us with the need to buy takoyaki picks to help us in turning the takoyaki once they are cooked. You can also use the wooden skewers but you should avoid using metal utensils as they will scratch your non-stick pans.
For beginners, always use the takoyaki picks because they are designed for turning your takoyaki.
- The takoyaki oil brush
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There’s a difference when you randomly oil the takoyaki pan holes and when you use this oil brush. Remember, you don’t want the balls to stick, thus you should make sure to oil it entirely before you pour your batter in the hole.
This brush will ease the oiling process and possibly even make it a quicker process. The metal ring in the middle allows you to choose how long you want the brush ropes.
Other uses of a takoyaki pan
For those who like but don’t really love the takoyaki, the question will be, why should you buy the pan if the only thing you make in it is takoyaki?
Notice that you can use the pan in making various other meals as listed below
- Hash browns
- Mini burgers
- Baby castella
- Sesame balls
- Chocolate fondue
- Roasted marsh mellow
- Grilled rice balls
- Chinese pork dumplings among others.
Of course, the list is endless because there are so many more meals to prepare in the pan that are yet to be discovered. So, go buy one and show us what you make in the takoyaki maker.
Where to Find the Takoyaki Maker
You can buy these gadgets online especially on Amazon or Japan center. You can also find them in any Asian cookware shops.
So much said but have I convinced you? Well, if you still feel reluctant to buy this item go to the Japanese restaurants near you and ask for takoyaki. I’m sure after that you will thank me.
Meanwhile, for those of us who love this treats, consider buying AUTOMATIC ELECTRIC JAPANESE TAKOYAKI GRILL. It will make your work easier since it’s an automatic set.