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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Takoyaki (Japanese Octopus Balls)

Since moving to the US and particularly since a year ago, I have been introduced to a variety of food that I had never had before. France has great food but it must rank pretty low for the variety of foreign food it offers. When I was eating out in France I would never wonder whether I wanted Thai, Chinese, Indian... My options were mainly between different types of French food and Italian. Living close to Spain Tapas was also a possibility. But Asian food in particular is not very popular, most people don't know it very well, and the numerous documentaries on TV about the questionable hygiene of a few chinese restaurants didn't contribute to giving them a good reputation.

The only Asian food that is very popular is sushi. In fact, most people associate Japanese food only with Sushi and I was one of them until recently. Since I moved to Boston, even though I tend to think that the food in Boston is not the best, I have been able to eat a much larger variety of food. Whenever I go out I ask myself if I feel like having Japanese curry, Korean bbq, Chinese hot pot... Understanding these types of food helps me appreciate the countries much better and I can't wait to visit all those places to try the authentic recipes.

In January we got hold of an authentic takoyaki machine! I was very excited to cook them by myself since I had only tasted them once when I was visiting Hong Kong in December. Tako means octopus in Japanese, and takoyaki are known as octopus balls. Takoyaki is a very popular street food in Japan. To make takoyaki, a cast iron or electric takoyaki pan with many half-spherical molds is used. The pan needs to be very hot when cooking the batter. Making the batter in itself is pretty simple, but the tricky part is to cook the takoyaki as a ball. The pan is in the shape of half balls, so you need to turn the balls when they're half cooked in order to shape a nice ball. It took us several tries before we managed to find the perfect technique.

Takoyaki recipe:


  • 1 2/3 cup flour
  • 2 1/2 cup dashi soup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 lb. boiled octopus, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped pickled red ginger
  • 1/4 cup dried sakura ebi (red shrimp) *optional, I didn't use it
  • *For toppings:
  • katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
  • Takoyaki sauce (you can find it at the asian supermarket)
  • mayonnaise


Mix flour, dashi soup and eggs in a bowl to make the batter. Thickness of the batter should be like a potage soup. Preheat a takoyaki pan and grease the molds. Pour batter into the molds until almost full. Put octopus, red ginger, green onion, and dried red shrimp in each mold. Grill takoyaki balls, flipping with a pick to make balls. When browned, remove takoyaki from the pan and place on a plate. Put sauce and mayonnaise on top and sprinkle bonito flakes and aonori over.
*makes 4 servings

If you want more directions on how to cook the takoyaki, you can look at this funny video on Youtube!

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