There’s nothing hard with making takoyaki at home, after a couple of goes, we’re experts at it. What might throw a spanner in the works is in the trying to find the equipment essential for homemade takoyaki: a takoyaki grill pan.
There are a few ebay sellers and Japanese vendor selling takoyaki pans online. But they’re pretty expensive with the shipping and foreign exchange conversion. Since a takoyaki pan is a pretty specialised bit of equipment -- you can’t really use it for anything else other than takoyaki -- I don’t want to spend too much money on it. I’ve been searching for an affordable alternative off and on for almost 6 months when I got a call from my sister telling me she found one in Target of all places! Suddenly they started popping up seemingly everywhere, Woolworths, Kmart, Big W, you name it they’ve got it.
Well, my previous statement’s maybe a bit of a fib. First, they don’t call it takoyaki pan, they are consecutively marketed under the alias of dutch pancake maker, danish pancake pan and poffertjes cake pan. Some of these are exactly what they are marketed as, but some are masqueraded takoyaki pans.
To check which one of these are takoyaki pans, take it out of its box and see if you can find an octopus symbol cast onto the pan. If there is, then that’s your 100% confirmation it is a takoyaki pan. If they don’t have the octopus symbol, they’re probably not takoyaki pans. In saying that, you can try measuring the indented slots, if they're about 40mm in diameter each and are perfect half spheres then those pans are basically takoyaki pans too.
The advantage of buying a takoyaki pan from your local store is you are assured the machines voltage and frequency requirement would comply with the country you’re in. No need to mess around with buying a transformer.
The second, less important thing to check is to see if the cooking plate is detachable from its heater base. This comes in handy when you want to wash the pan separately from its electrical parts. This little beauty I have is courtesy of my sister -- also a takoyaki aficionado -- who found it for the grand total price of $20! Oh yeah!
There are so many takoyaki recipes out there to choose from, mine is from the cute yet informative japanese vlogger Cooking with Dog. I couldn’t find some of the ingredients so my recipe is adjusted for that.
To start making the adorable japanese octopus balls, first you start with the octopus. I bought a whole octopus, of which I only used one of its long legs to amount to about a cup’s worth. Boil the octopus until the flesh turns opaque, the chewier the better. You can boil it first then chop it or the other way around, it makes no difference.
I couldn’t find sakuraebi anywhere! I had to make do with these dried baby shrimps instead. I’ve made takoyaki with and without the shrimps, the ones with the shrimps do have slight shrimpy flavour to it that I quite like. But without the shrimps, they are still delicious.
I dry roasted the shrimps on a frying pan over a low heat. The drier the better, but be careful not to burn it.
Then if you have a small blender / grinder, grind them to a fine powder. Otherwise use mortar and pestle to grind them down as much as you can possibly muster.
In a mixing bowl, beat 1 egg. Add 340mL ice cold water and stir to combine.
I’m pretty lucky my local asian shop carry takoyaki flour, cutting down the ingredients list for the batter. This is because the takoyaki flour is already built in with all the good stuff I’d otherwise need to buy to make the batter, like katsuobushi powder, bonito powder, soy sauce, etc.
Add 1/3 the 100g takoyaki flour into the egg-water mixture with a whisk -- or chospticks work well too.
Combine well before adding the next third, and again before adding the last third. If the batter seems runny at this point, don't despair, it will come together in the end.
Turn on the electric takoyaki pan. Oil the slots with a paper towel that has been soaked with vegetable oil.
After a few seconds or so, the oil will be hot enough to pour the batter into the slots. Fill the slots up to the brim. If there is any leftover batter, keep it in the fridge while you move on to the next step.
Add a few pieces of the octopus pieces into the slots.
The batter might overflow slightly. The pan should have a lip, which will contain this minor batter runoff.
To each slot, add the baby shrimp powder and chopped spring onion.
Leave for a few minutes for the bottom of the batter to set and brown.
Now let's get on with the fun bit!
Working with one slot at a time:
Working with one slot at a time:
Use the pointy ends of two skewers to break up and tuck in the overflowed batter into a nearby slot.
When the batter is all tucked into that slot, turn the batter ball 90º, so that half of the crispy browned side and half of the wet batter side are now visible.
Repeat with the remaining slots.
By the time you’ve finished tucking and half-turning the last takoyaki ball, the first ones are ready to be turned again. This time turn the wet batter end facing completely downwards.
Leave for a minute or two for the wet batter to crisp up.
Then start turning all of them every which way you want, to visibly check that all sides have now turned golden brown and delicious. Do this for a few minutes before removing them onto a plate.
Top the takoyaki balls with: a drizzle of tonkatsu sauce, a sprinkle of aonori, a handful of katsuobushi -- enjoy a long minute or two to watch the katsuobushi dance -- , a sprinkle of spring onions, and a drizzle of mayonnaise.
While I enjoyed eating the cute little takoyaki balls with a skewer, I repeated the above process with the rest of my batter.
As the batter has sat for a while, don’t forget to whisk it before pouring for the second batch.
If you ran out of tako, you can use other less traditional ingredients such as finely chopped mozzarella, chopped cabbage, bacon, and prawns. And if you’re craving for something sweet, how about little cubes of chocolate.
adapted from Cooking with Dog
- 1 egg
- 340mL iced water
- 100g takoyaki flour
- 150g octopus, boiled and chopped
- 2g dried baby shrimps, toasted and ground to powder
- 1 spring onion, chopped finely
- 100mL “bulldog” tonkatsu sauce
- 100mL kewpie mayonnaise
- 10g pack of aonori seaweed
- 34g pack of katsuobushi
- 1 spring onion, chopped finely
- Electric takoyaki grill pan たこ焼き器
- Two long bamboo skewers
- A paper towel soaked with canola
- In a mixing bowl, whisk 1 egg briefly. Add the 340mL ice cold water and mix to combine. Add the 100g takoyaki flour in thirds into the mixing bowl, mix well each time flour is added to the batter.
- Turn on the takoyaki pan. Oil the pan with oil soaked napkin. Wait until the oil heats up and fill the slots with the takoyaki batter until full.
- Add the octopus pieces in the slots. Top with toasted shrimp powder and spring onions.
- Leave for a few minutes for the bottom to crisp up. Working with one slot at a time, use the pointy ends of the skewers to break up and tuck the overflowing batter into a nearby slot, and turn the batter in the slot 90º. Repeat with the remaining slots.
- Once you've half-turned all the balls, turn the first takoyaki ball all the way downwards so that their wet batter end face completely down. Repeat with the remaining balls.
- Leave to crisp up for a few minutes. With a flick of the skewer, turn the balls a few times, they should all be rotating freely and their surfaces golden brown.
- Plate them and top with as much or as little as you want of tonkatsu sauce, aonori, katsuobushi, spring onions and mayonnaise.