A home-made Osaka classic!! *w*
If you're an anime fan like me, you'll recognize these right away!! Known as fried octopus balls, this warm and savory snack is a Japanese classic. Although the recipe is relatively simple, you need to get your hands on a takoyaki pan to make them...But!! thanks to eBay XD now I can make these myself and enjoy them at home!!! *w*
1.- Katsuodashi: this is my bag of katsuodashi :) Katsuodashi is some sort of granulated fish stock you can find at asian grocery stores. It's commonly known as dashinomoto :) To make dashi, just dissolve 4 tsp. of katsuodashi on 500 ml. water :)
2.- Benishoga: pickled red ginger. From what I know, shoga means ginger in japanese and beni means carmine, but lots of people outside japan confuse this shoga variety with the one you eat with sushi (those beige-ish slices on the side XD). On my local asian grocery store, I've found jars with benishoga in chunks or grated in bags, but whatever the case, just make sure it's red XD This one goes finely chopped :)
3.- Green onion: quite common :) For takoyaki we'll just use the green part XD Make sure you 'cisele' it, which means you just make fine slices out of it instead of chopping it. If you do it right, you'll end up with tiny tiny cylinders like the ones in the pic :)
4.- Boiled octopus: As you can se in the pic, I like to use only the tentacles of the octopus 'cause sometimes the head tastes funny >_< I also like to buy fresh octopus and boil it at home, but if you just can't stand slimmy things XD buy it on it's already cooked variety XD Chop these a little smaller than bite-size pieces :)
Now, this is when we start cheating!! XDDDD
Well...not really XD but if you look at the original recipe, it says you have to pour your batter into your takoyaki pan and THEN add the green onion, benishoga and octopus to each little ball...The first time I made takoyaki, I followed the recipe to the letter....but it's quite difficult to do this once the batter is on the pan....you have to be super fast or some kind of japanese pro XD 'cause if you don't, your takoyaki will end up too hard on the surface....
So!! To make things easier, just add your green onion and benishoga to the batter :) It's less messy and all the ingredients are way better distributed :)
Now that your batter is ready, heat and oil your takoyaki pan :)
Mine is an electric one, but you may find also the cast-iron kind. If you don't have a takoyaki pan but still want to try the recipe, you can use stove-top safe mini-muffin trays, though it will be more difficult to achieve the spherical shape.
Make sure the pan is veeeeeeeeeery hot before you pour your batter on it :)
Grab a bamboo skewer and turn them round. The rest of the un-cooked batter goes to the bottom of the cavity giving it the spherical shape :)
This step is quite tricky and you'll need some practice to master it XD but it's not impossible, trust me ;)
Sometimes the batter is not enough to make the other half of the ball, but to solve this little problem, you can lift each ball up, pour some more batter and put the ball back on top of it to make it whole, it's not forbidden :)
Keep turning them round quite often until the skewer comes out fairly clean when you insert it on the takoyaki :)
You have to turn them a lot 'cause you need the outside to stay soft, see how you can push it with the skewer?
Repeat from Step 7 until you run out of batter or octopus, whatever comes first XDDD
Just to make things clear, I'll add some notes =3
- Takoyaki is not, in any way, one of those healthy and balanced japanese dishes. If you're looking for some other japanese healthy recipes, let me know =3 I love japanese food!!! and I'll gladly post some other how-to's for you =3
- The original recipe calls for TENKASU. Tenkasu are the leftover pieces of batter that float in the oil of tempura (another japanese dish). Some people outside japan use unflavoured rice krispies as a substitute, but I don't get the point of adding them XD
- Some recipes I've found on the web call for finely chopped cabbage, but it's flavour is too overpowering for me....I prefer the taste of benishoga on my takoyaki *w* However, you can use it if you want =3 Entirely your choice. Just add it to the batter with the green onions and ginger :)
- The toppings I use are the "traditional" ones...though you can also use mayo or skip the nori stripes. For the sauce, you have lots of options. I like bull-dog sauce 'cause it has that bittersweet taste that I love so much X3 However, in the asian groceries stores you can find special takoyaki sauce, okonomiyaki sauce or tonkatsu sauce =3 Ask a store clerk for them, take your pick and try them until you find the one you like better :)
If you have any questions, just post a comment below :) and if you try this project, show me how it turned out!!! X3 I'd like to see!!
Hoe you like it!!! :)