Takoyaki

Posted on April 15, 2015

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Guess what I lugged back home from the recent Japan trip?_MG_9836 A takoyaki pan! A cast iron one at that. This added significant weight to my already too heavy luggage and if not for the very kind lady at the check in desk, I would have been up a pretty penny in overweight luggage charges. But how could I resist? It was only about $11aud! These easily cost more than double that online minus the shipping cost. It would have been foolish not to have bought it. The deal was if I was to lug it a quarter of the way across the world, I must use it often. And of late, I have been a woman of my word!

For those uninitiated, takoyaki is a Japanese snack food of octopus balls. These small spheres have a crisp shell, with a custard-like centre, diced octopus, pickled ginger and spring onions, and are then topped with the a sweet sauce, mayonnaise, dried seaweed and dried bonito shavings. With so much going on, deliciousness was always a given, but surprisingly – it’s rather easy to make. The only requirement is having the right pan to cook them in! _MG_9861 The batter is a simple standard mixture of flour, egg, seasoning and dashi (a Japanese style fish and seaweed stock). Fillings, on the other hand can vary quite a bit, but most typically include dice octopus (the tako part of takoyaki), spring onion, pickled ginger and tempura scraps. A popular new age version I saw in Osaka was cream cheese takoyaki!

The below recipe is thanks to little japan mama. The many glowing praises for that recipe were more than enough to persuade me. Only change in my version is the omission of pickled ginger in the filling.

I do usually like making my own stock, but in this case, I just used the instant variety. I can’t profess to having any insight on how to brew a good dashi, and it seems a bit overkill to brew my own dashi only for it to be included in a food where I won’t be able to taste the difference. Like the rest of the Japanese ingredients, instant dashi powder can be found at Japanese grocers. It pays to spend a bit of time there to look for a product to suit your dietary requirements. Some products will have lots of flavour enhancers/additives, while others will only use natural extracts and yet others will be vegetarian. The one I bought only has salt, dried sardine, kelp, mushroom and sugar; with 1/2 a sachet being enough to make 600mL of dashi. In case you cannot read the package instructions, generally ~1 teaspoon of dashi powder will brew 500mL of stock for use in the below recipe. If you can’t find any dashi powder, plain water or chicken stock can be substituted but obviously the final product will have a lesser seafood flavour.

RECIPE – TAKOYAKI (makes ~28 large balls)

Original recipe from little japan mama

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon corn starch
  • 2 eggs
  • 500mL dashi
  • 3 teaspoons soy sauce
  • oil for cooking

Filling:

  • 250g octopus (about 1 tentacle)
  • 2-3 spring onions, chopped

Toppings:

  • Takoyaki sauce (or fruity sweet sauce such as bbq sauce could be substituted)
  • Kewpie mayonnaise
  • green seaweed flakes
  • dried bonito shavings

Method:

  1. To cook octopus, bring a medium-large pot of water to boil. Once boiling, submerge whole tentacle in the water and simmer on medium heat for ~4 minutes or until cooked through. Octopus cooks very quickly and you want to avoid overcooking to keep it tender. Rinse in cold water, dice into small pieces then reserve.
  2. Prepare batter by mixing ingredients together until you get a thin and smooth consistency._MG_9850
  3. Preheat the takoyaki pan and brush all over with oil.
  4. Once the pan is near smoking point, it is ready for use. Pour batter into the takoyaki pan, making sure to overfill the cavities.
  5. Evenly distribute octopus pieces and chopped spring onions to ensure each ball will have a bit of everything._MG_9853
  6. Allow batter to cook for a few minutes until a crust has developed. Once a crust has developed, you will be able to use skewers to pull in the excess batter from the pan and turn balls around. Continually turn balls to get them into a spherical shape and ensure they are cooked through before removing._MG_9854
  7. Serve with generous additions of the suggested toppings._MG_9855_MG_9858

Doesn’t it look so appetising? It actually looks like it’s more work than it is! But my beneficiaries won’t need to know that… When they thank me for slaving away in the kitchen to produce these yummy morsels up, I’m just going to stay quiet and nod in agreement ;).

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Posted in: Meats, MissC cooks