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All over the world, there are strange and amazing dishes. Some are cultural and can only be found in those places, while others are seen world-wide. Whatever takes your fancy, there is a dish for you out there. One such interesting dish is Takoyaki often called Octopus balls by some people.
What does Takoyaki taste like? Takoyaki is a Japanese dish made from octopus. It is salty and a little chewy. These balls of dough have an amazing flavor combination like Worcestershire sauce and mayo with a touch of pickled ginger. The flavor of Takoyaki is called Umami and can be likened to a savory or meaty flavor.
Typically a snack item, Takoyaki can vary slightly in its flavors based on where you get it and how it was made. We hope to educate and inform you about this fantastic, well known and loved dish from Japan, and perhaps even encourage you to try some!
What does Takoyaki really taste like?
Just like with any new food, Takoyaki may not seem like your kind of snack or meal at first glance. It is always a good idea to try new things, however. And you might be surprised!
That being said, we will try to break down the many flavors of Takoyaki and how they can differ. When trying the Takoyaki ball, you will get a crispy and soft dough outside. This is made with various spices and exciting flavors that will vary depending on who made it. The inside will likely be octopus tentacles that have been chopped up, boiled, and rolled into a ball. This is added to pickled ginger, onions, and a variety of other local herbs and spices.
While the inside is soft and melts in your mouth, the outside is a flavor-packed dough that is baked until just crispy and golden brown.
Don’t be afraid of octopus!
It might sound like a weird food to you, but octopus is actually quite tasty. By boiling these octopus tentacles, it makes the meat very soft and chewy, almost like it melts in your mouth. This delicate and soft meat pairs well with the flavor-packed dough that surrounds it. Freshly made, the dough will have a lovely crispiness to it and enhances the flavor and texture of the octopus meat inside.
What is Takoyaki?
This dish is considered a snack or appetizer in Japan. It is very popular in the Osaka prefecture but can be found all over Japan. This dish can go well with various sauces or just be enjoyed on its own.
The name Takoyaki means grilled or boiled octopus. Tako is the Japanese word for octopus, and yaki is a word that is derived from yaku, which is a term that describes a way of Japanese cooking, usually boiling or grilling.
From a visual standpoint, Takoyaki is a ball-shaped bit of dough with chopped octopus tentacles on the inside. The shape is important as it helps hold everything together in an easy to eat snack.
There are many kinds of Takoyaki
There are actually many flavors and a variety of kids of Takoyaki. This is all based on where in Japan you get it. The recipes are all roughly the same, but each prefecture of Japan will make them in a slightly different way that wonderfully represents that area or the specific chef making it.
Takoyaki is a very popular snack during festivals and holidays. It’s a great savory treat between sampling some of the amazing street foods you will find.
What is Takoyaki made of?
While you can add other things to Takoyaki, the five key ingredients are all very important and should not be removed.
The first of these ingredients is the octopus. Depending on where you live, octopus tentacles can be sold in a supermarket, raw or cooked.
Dashi flavored batter is your next ingredient. Dashi is actually a broth. It is made by using kelp and fermented, preserved tuna shavings put on a simmer in some water. It will have a sweet, savory fishy flavor. This is what gives the Takoyaki that Umami taste.
You might be able to find this in a powder form, pre-made in a grocery store, or find packets of Takoyaki mix seasonings. But this is largely dependent on where you live.
Tenkasu, also called tempura scraps, is another one of your essential ingredients for Takoyaki. It is needed to get the rich and umami flavors in Takoyaki perfect. Tenkasu will also help with the creaminess and crispiness of the Takoyaki.
Beni Shoga is pickled red ginger. This ingredient is used to give Takoyaki that pop of color in the yellow batter and to add a nice kick of spiciness.
Green onion is also used to complement the yellow batter and Beni Shoga while adding to the flavors, making the dish far more appetizing looking.
Can You make Takoyaki at home?
Absolutely! While you do need a special pan to cook them and special ingredients, it is very possible to make your own home-made Takoyaki.
First, you should get the special grill (see Amazon) used to cook the Takoyaki. It is called a Takoyakikki, or Takoyaki-nabe. It comes with a cast iron griddle with many half-spherical indents for the batter to sit in. Remember, the shape is very important!
There are three types of griddles. Most Japanese street vendors will use a gas-powered grill, but you can find stovetop and electric ones for sale too.
These may be easier to find in Japan, but you may also be able to find some options online with a little searching.
How to make Takoyaki
The ingredients are pretty basic, though some items may be hard to find depending on where you live. This basic and easy recipe for Takoyaki will make roughly twenty-six balls, each one being seventy-five calories.
The ingredients are:
- 2 scallions or green onions
- 1tbsp of beni shoga
- 120 grams, or ½ cup in U.S. metrics, of cooked octopus. This can be tentacles or other parts of the octopus.
- ¼ cup of katsuobushi or dried bonito flakes
- 1 cup of all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp of baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 ½ cups of dashi
- 2 tbsp of no-flavor oil
- 1/3 cup of tenkasu
To start, you will need to finely slice and mince the beni shoga. Repeat with this process with the green onions.
Next, dice the octopus. Aim for bite-size pieces, roughly half an inch each.
Grind the Katsuobushi into a fine powder.
Mix the all-purpose flour, baking soda, and salt into a separate dish, combining thoroughly.
Add eggs, dashi, and soy sauce carefully to the powder mix.
Now, whisk all of the ingredients together into a well-blended batter. After this stage you should transfer your batter to any container with a spout for easier pouring into the griddle.
Now heat up your Takoyaki griddle to a medium heat, brushing oil over the whole thing, holes and flat surfaces alike. Once the griddle is smoking hot, pour the batter into each hole. It’s okay if the batter overflows a small bit.
Something to note here is that when you are brushing in the oil you must use a good amount. And the more oil you use, the crispier your Takoyaki will be. Ideally, the holes will be filled about one-fourth of the way with oil, but more will not be bad for the Takoyaki.
Once the batter has been poured in, add one to three pieces of chopped octopus into each ball, sprinkle in the katsuobushi powder, tenkasu, beni shoga, and green onion as well. When you pour in your batter it is okay for a little overflow, but try to keep it to just under the lip of each hole, this is because when you add your octopus bits, if they are larger, the batter may risk overflowing too much.
Give the balls three to five minutes, or until the bottoms have hardened, split the overflowed batter and then turn the balls ninety degrees from their original position and stuff in the edges as you go. This first turn is the most important, so be sure you are turning each ball a complete ninety degrees and stuffing any extra batter as you turn. The uncooked batter on the insides will help in forming the other half of the ball.
Set a timer for four minutes and continue to turn the Takoyaki balls from time to time until you get a perfectly round shape. Once the four minutes are up, you may remove the Takoyaki balls from the griddle and onto a plate to enjoy however you like!
Many people like their Takoyaki plain or with salt to properly enjoy the flavors. But there are some pretty great sauces that can be had with Takoyaki. Below, is a simple recipe you can make to go along with your homemade Takoyaki balls.
The ingredients you will need for this are:
- 3 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce
- ¾ tsp of sugar
- ½ tsp of ketchup
- 1 tsp of mentsuyu
Combine all these ingredients together and adjust to your preferred taste.
Mentsuyu is a soup base commonly used in various noodle dishes, but it can also be used for sauces. You can make this with sake, soy sauce, mirin, kombu, and bonito flakes. It may also be purchased from Japanese grocery stores or certain online shops.
How to eat Takoyaki
There are many ways to enjoy this fine snack, you can eat them plain, or dip them in something. There are many options to pick when it comes to Takoyaki.
Plain soy sauce is a good choice, or a specific Takoyaki sauce, which you can also make at home to go with your homemade Takoyaki balls.
Many in Japan say the best way to eat Takoyaki is to do as the locals do. They often recommend the Takoyaki in Osaka for a tourist’s first time. The Takoyaki from Osaka tends to be very flavorful and will typically be served plain or with some salt. Once you have tried it the popular way then maybe branch out and try all the crazy flavors.
When it comes to actually consuming this snack, it is recommended to use a toothpick, insert the toothpick into the side of the Takoyaki and take one bite. Do not try to eat it all in one bite, this can appear as rude and you may end up burning your mouth on the insides of the Takoyaki.
Now that isn’t to say you can’t use chopsticks, but this is typically a food you find at street vendors all over Japan, so toothpicks are the more common utensil.
Takoyaki is a great snack or between-meal treat. It is savory and delicious. Whether you are visiting Japan or live there, it is highly recommended that you try this food.
Every prefecture in Japan has its own way of making Takoyaki, but even the people who live there say that you’ve not had Takoyaki until you’ve tried it from Osaka. There, you can find over ten different kinds of Takoyaki shops, not even counting the street vendors.
Truly, no trip to Japan is complete until you’ve had some fresh Takoyaki!
What does Octopus taste like?
Unlike squid meat, octopus meat is very soft and delicate. Easy to chew, this meat is considered a lot like chicken or lobster.
Where did Takoyaki originate?
Some-time around 1935 a Japanese man named Tomekichi Endo invented and popularized Takoyaki in Osaka. He was inspired by another dish called Akashiyaki, a type of egg rich round dumpling with octopus
What is the texture of Takoyaki?
When it is fresh, Takoyaki will be a lovely crispy texture on the outside and a tasty melt in your mouth inside. Be careful, however, as it will be quite hot.