I have been to Japan many times now, and always without exception I end up in an izakaya having a couple of beers and eating some of these delicious ‘octopus balls’. Now ‘octopus balls’ as a description may not sound that appealing to many of you out there, but take my word for it these are one of the best beer snacks ever.
Takoyaki, along with its bigger, equally yummy sidekick okonomiyaki hail from the streets of Osaka the second biggest city in Japan and the capital of yummy fried batter based snacks. The recipe below will make the standard version of this popular street food. But if you get the chance to visit Osaka and walk down Dōtonbori (the main street) you will see all manner of variations include ones as big as baseballs.
Note: you will need a takoyaki pan to make this recipe; you can usually pick them up at your local Asian grocer or online.
makes 25 ballsTakoyaki balls
25 x 1.5cm cubes of fresh octopus tentacle
1 cup plain flour
1 tsp dashi powder
2 cups water
2 Tbsp benishoga (red pickled ginger) finely chopped
Takoyaki Sauce (or Okonomiyaki sauce)
Katsuobushi Bonito flakes
Aonori (green seaweed sprinkles)
1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour and dashi, add the eggs and milk then whisk until you have a smooth batter.
2. Cover and refrigerate the batter for half an hour.
3. Cut your octopus into 1.5cm cubes, place them in a pot of boiling water. Boil until just cooked, should not take longer than a minute.
4. Heat your takoyaki pan up and oil each mould with an oil soaked paper towel, keep this handy so you can oil between batches.
5. Add a little batter mixture in the bottom of each mould, place one piece of octopus and a pinch of pickled ginger in each mould. Then fill each mould till its overflowing with batter.
6. Leave to fry for a couple of minutes, then with a two bamboo skewers carefully turn the takoyaki balls over so the fried side is up.
7. Go over the takoyaki again turning them to incorporate all the loose bits, until they are a perfect ball shape.
8. Cook the takoyaki until golden brown around the entire outside.
9. Place the balls on a serving dish and add all the toppings: takoyaki sauce, mayonnaise, aonori then katsuobushi.