The word "tako" means octopus, and "yaki" means grilled, which means takoyaki are grilled octopus balls. Bite-sized pieces of boiled octopus are placed in the half-spherical mold of a takoyaki pan, and then a batter mixed with dashi, tempura pieces, and green scallions is poured over. As the batter cooks, it is turned over and it puffs up to form a ball. The balls are then removed from the pan, drizzled with okonomi sauce, sprinkled with dried seaweed, pickled ginger, fish flakes, and Kewpie mayonnaise. Takoyaki is very similar to okonomiyaki in taste and texture.
Takoyaki pans are available online at Amazon, but if you already have an æbleskive pan, that would work. If you loathe buying unitasker gadgets, just make these into little pancakes and they'll still be really delicious.
1 1/2 c. flour*
2 1/2 c. dashi*
1 tentacle of boiled octopus, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 scallions, finely chopped
* Red pickled shredded ginger
* Dried bonito fish flakes
* Aonori (green seaweed powder)
* Kewpie mayonnaise
* Okonomi sauce
Tenkasu (pieces of fried tempura batter, available in Japanese groceries)
Mix flour, soup, and eggs in a bowl. (If using batter mix, measure out 1 1/2 cup and add enough water to make a batter the same consistency as pancake batter, and add eggs. Oil up the takoyaki pan or a griddle. Add the batter about 1/3 of the way, then add a piece of octopus and about a teaspoon each of the scallions and ginger, and then finish off with more batter. Grill the balls and turn them over with the metal pick that comes with the takoyaki pan when the tops start bubbling. (If not using a takoyaki pan, flip them over at this point.) When all surfaces are evenly brown, remove to plate and garnish with fish flakes, seaweed, mayonnaise, and okonomi sauce. Enjoy!
* Note: you can buy takoyaki batter mix at Asian grocery stores. If you choose to do this, then omit the flour and dashi from the above ingredient list.
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(Image: Kathryn Hill)