Takoyaki

Update: I added more pictures at the end of the post of the second batch I made the next day. Much easier since I seasoned the pan one more time. As you can see, the takoyaki formed much prettier. I also added some info on what I did differently as well.

Happy New Year! Thought I’d start the first post of 2014 with one of the first dishes the Mister and and I had on New Year’s Day. We decided to get some noodles at Raki Raki since I really enjoyed my lunch with CC earlier in the week (check out CC’s post here for some great shots of ramen). I’ll post on the Mister’s and my lunch at Raki Raki at a later date.

Anyway, we enjoyed Raki squared takoyaki so much that I wanted to try making it at home. For those who aren’t familar, takoyaki are octopus balls (snicker, balls…). And you know this opens up to a whole slew of “that’s what he/she said” jokes, right???

Funny thing is that I’ve had a takoyaki cast iron pan in my Amazon save cart for over a year but just never got around to buying it. Guess I just needed somethingmotivation (like a kick in the ass). I debated between the cast iron pan, which is stove top, or get one of those fancy electric ones. In the end, I went with my first choice.

Being a noob at this, I decided to start with the simplest method and ingredients as possible, which meant not making the batter from scratch. First picture from top left: takoyaki sauce, Kewpie mayonnaise, bonito flakes, takoyaki mix. We liked the taste of the mix and quite frankly, unless I’m making takoyaki every week, I’d probably just stay with the mix. Well, unless I’m out and too lazy to go to the store.

Next we have some aonori, which will get sprinkled on top of the finished product.

  .

A few more items: tenkasu (tempura flakes), thinly sliced green onions, and another shot of the bonito flakes. You can buy tenkasu at a Japanese market but I had a hard time finding them on the shelves so I made my own using my little Fry Daddy. I probably could have done without the tenkasu but there were some zucchinis that were crying to be tempura’ed. So two birds.

Next: the batter, tako (cooked octopus) cut into bite size pieces, and um, more tenkasu (yeah, I made quite a bit).

  

If you look to the left of the Fry Daddy, you can see part of the takoyaki pan. It makes up to 16 balls at a time.

I didn’t get a chance to take photos while making the (ahem) balls since I was too busy manning the pan. They were sticking to pan a bit first time out of the gate. I also had to use a bit more oil to get the balls unstuck. Definitely need to season the pan in the oven at least one more time before the next batch.

I was able to get 1 perfectly shaped ball and a handful of pretty good ones. The rest were, well, sort of resembled a sphere but they were very tasty nonetheless. Once I get the technique down, I’ll take some “in process” pictures and will do an update post. But for now, a quick summary of what I did.

First, heat the pan on medium heat (my stove). You might need medium-high heat but my gas stove cranks out some pretty good heat. I oiled the pan liberally (and more so while cooking) and when it just starts to smoke, poured in the batter, filling each hole almost full. Then add a piece or two of tako (depending on the size…that’s what she said), some tenkasu and green onions. Then pour a bit more of batter on top of each to almost overflowing. It’s okay if it overflows a bit since it’ll just get tucked in.

After a few minutes, the balls are (suppose to be) ready to be turned 90 degrees. My balls needed a bit of coaxing (that’s what he said). It took about 10-12 minutes for most of them but a few of the less cooperative ones needed a few more minutes and extra oil. (Wow, I could have gone to town on jokes with that one but I’ll refrain.) Anyway, once all the balls can be rotated fairly easily, they’re ready to be served (bwahahahaha!). Put them on a plate, add some takoyaki sauce, some mayonnaise, sprinkle some aonori and benito flakes on top and boom, takoyaki for the snacking.

I have to be honest that I was a bit disappointed when I first tried to turn them since they stuck so much. But with some finessing and some patience, all turned out well in this first rodeo! I should have taken a picture of the lone perfect ball but that got eatening first. So pictures will have to wait for the next batch.

Hope everyone had a good New Year celebration and may 2014 be everything that you wish for!

P.S. I forgot to mention that the brand of takoyaki mix was Otafuku and the package was only in Japanese. Good thing Otafuku has the instruction on their website in English! I knew most of the instructions and recognized some kanji characters but there were a couple of things that I wasn’t completely sure of. So good thing I found the English version. The takoyaki sauce was also Otafuku and it had a takoyaki recipe on the package, which I noticed after I was done cooking (of course).

P.S.S. I seasoned the pan one more time in the oven the next day and made a second batch. What a difference it made to the sticking problem. Not only was I able to turn the balls easier, it also took me half the time to make the same amount. You can see in the left picture below some balls in various cooking stages. I found I like to move some of the balls to the middle since those are hotter than the outside wells. Gets really nice and crispy. The second picture is the final product. Some of them were starting to deflate a bit as they cooled but for the most part, they retained their spherical shapes nicely.

  

I was able to use less oil than the first time. I suspect this will decrease a little more as I use the pan more. I was also faster in turning the balls since I have some experience now in making these suckers.

One other big thing I changed this go around was using dashi stock instead of plain water. I used dashi granules the first time and I thought there was a subtle difference in the taste for the better but not enough to where I would go out of my way. Now if I was making the batter from scratch, then certainly would opt for the dashi granules.

The third batch that I made, I used dashi stock I made from a dashi packet in boiling water. Now there I really tasted a difference. Much more flavorful, nice and dashi! This I definitely recommend.

Funny thing as I was making the second batch, I thought to myself, “Self, this is actually pretty fun to make.” Of course I had to make some ball jokes to the Mister as I was making these. But hey, who doesn’t like a good balls joke? The third time I made these, it went even faster. What I realized that go-around was that I work best by filling 6 of the holes (cavities?) first, get those prepped, then fill in another 6 more. By the time the second set was prepped, the first 6 were ready to rotate. And so on and on.

13 Comments

    • Can anyone say balls with a straight face? I snicker just typing it. I think the nonstick electric versions are much easier to turn than a new cast iron. But with time, those balls should be gliding with ease. Hehehe. If I have time tomorrow, I’m going make another batch. I baked the pan again today so we’ll see if it’s better the second time.

  1. I love takoyaki! I always thought it was too complicated to make so your recipe inspires me. Which market did you get most of the ingredients from? I wish you had taken some finished photos too – I’m so curious to see how they looked.

    Happy New Year!

    • Hi Faye and Happy New Year to you too!

      I made another batch and updated the main plated picture as well as some cooking in the pan and finished balls (sans toppings and sauces). So now you can see them more clearly. I added some more notes as well to what I did differently the second time.

      I got most of the ingredients at Mitsuwa but some of the things I had on hand (bonito flakes and dashi granules) were from Marukai. But you should be able to get all of the ingredients at Mitsuwa as well as Nijiwa. Although I had a hard time finding tenkasu at all 3 locations. But I think I just wasn’t seeing it. They’ve got to have it, right?? Maybe you’ll have more luck but honestly, you can go without it.

      • Oh thanks for posting the pics! Did you manage to eat all the takoyaki you made – do they re heat well?

        I’m so craving takoyaki now – I found a great takoyaki stand at the Mira Mesa farmers market some time ago but not sure if he’s there anymore.

        Where did you get the takoyaki pan? I have an ebelskiver (that I’ve never used) – I bet it would work nicely for takoyaki :)

        • Hi Faye, I don’t know if I should be proud or embarrassed that I can eat 16-20 takoyaki balls in one sitting, assuming that’s all that I’m eating. We haven’t had any leftovers to reheat but I have eaten a few when they were cold. I think they would be okay reheated in an oven since they’re sort of fried.

          I got mine at Marukai, which also has two other versions, one that makes slightly smaller versions and one that makes up to 12 that are the same size as mine and has a handle. MIne and the one with the handle are available through Amazon too.

          I think an aebelskiver can work but ebeskiver holes are much bigger than takoyaki ones. Takoyaki are about the size of a golf ball, some pans are even smaller. So the cooking will take longer and might need to use a lower heat setting. But you can certainly use it. If your aebelskiver pan is cast iron and you haven’t seasoned it yet, you should do that at least one before attempting to use it. Then use a bit more oil on your first batch to help with the sticking.

  2. Great update on the ballz! Funny, Cathy and I were looking for a place that supposedly did aebelskivers this morning. No such luck. This pop up coffee place was not where they were supposed to be, therefore, no pancake ballz for us. I could go for some takoyaki though! :)

    • Thanks CC! I was looking at aebelskivers pans last year when I wanted to make takoyaki but decided not to go that route because of the size. I figure I can just make smaller aebelskivers. Now I need to make some of those.

  3. Happy New Year Cab!

    Nice to see you back!

    I’ve cooked with cast iron for over 40 years and I can say one thing, when you get the pans seasoned right they turn jet black and are like Teflon coated. Never wash them with soap or detergent just hot water or you’ll have to re-season the pan again.

    I have my grandmother’s cast iron fry pan handed down to my mother and now to me. It makes a beautiful crust on anything I fry!

  4. Very nice octopus balls CAB! I worked once at takoyaki stall in a summer carnival back in junior high. It was just a job then but I feel I would’ve enjoyed it a lot more now. I’ve had a takoyaki pan for some time now but haven’t taken it out for a spin yet. I did notice the size of the divot/ball tend to be bigger in more modern pans. I think it’s due to the popularity these days of filling them with other than octopus, such as cut sausages or pieces of cheese. Anyway, hope you’re doing well!

    • Haha thanks Dennis! I think it’s cool that you worked a takoyaki stall. I’ll admit I don’t know how enjoyable it would be for me to work at a hot takoyaki plate all day long or how sick I’d be of takoyaki after the summer.

      I was going to get the pan with the smaller divots but they looked so small. And the ones I had at Raki Raki were on the bigger side, which is a bit too big IMHO. So I went down the middle and got the medium sized pan.

      Hope you’ve settled back in from your trip and to see you soon for lunch!

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