Grilled Savory Pancake Bites With Octopus (Takoyaki)

Takoyaki (Grilled Octopus Ball with Sauce, Bonito Flake, Seaweed)
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Ratings (9)
  • Total: 23 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 8 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings

Takoyaki is a popular Japanese snack food or street food. It is made with a savory pancake batter, similar to its cousin okonomiyaki (savory pancake with vegetables and/or meat) but shaped into round balls and filled with cooked octopus. While the idea of octopus in a pancake may sound unappealing at first, you'll be surprised at how savory, delicious, and addictive this favorite Japanese snack is! In fact, takoyaki, which is originally perceived as a snack, can be a meal in itself. Restaurants and takoyaki stands tend to sell takoyaki in packs of 8 pieces or 12 pieces, which can be quite filling.

The term takoyaki comes from "tako", meaning octopus, and "yaki", which means grilled. In some translations, takoyaki is referred to as grilled octopus bites. Takoyaki has a very thin, and almost crip grilled exterior with a very soft, almost liquid center, with a tender or slightly chewy bite of cooked octopus.

The batter is often seasoned with sliced green onion and red ginger (benishoga). The toppings are traditionally a sweet and savory okonomiyaki or takoyaki sauce, along with dried shaved bonito flakes (katsuobushi) and green dried seaweed powder (aonori). Creative optional toppings include mayonnaise, cheese, scrambled egg, alternative sauces such as teriyaki sauce or tempura sauce, and chopped green onions.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound octopus (boiled cut into bite-sized pieces)
  • For the Batter
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups dashi broth
  • 2 eggs
  • Optional: 1/4 cup benishoga (pickled red ginger finely chopped)
  • 1/4 cup green onion (finely chopped)
  • Optional: 1/4 cup sakura ebi (small red shrimp)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons canola oil (or other vegetable oil for coating the takoyaki pan)
  • For Traditional Toppings
  • Prepared okonomiyaki sauce (may be substituted with Worchestershire sauce, takoyaki sauce, or tonkatsu sauce)
  • Japanese Kewpie brand mayonnaise (or another brand of Western mayonnaise)
  • Katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
  • Aonori (green seaweed powder)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Make sure you've pre-cooked the octopus and cut it into bite-sized pieces.

  3. In a large bowl, make the takoyaki batter by combining flour, dashi broth, and eggs. Mix until well incorporated. Note, the thickness of the batter should be similar to a cream soup and is on the thinner side.

  4. Preheat a takoyaki pan and coat each of the round molds in the pan with canola oil.

  5. Pour batter into the molds so that it is about 3/4 full.

  6. Put octopus, red ginger, green onion, and dried red shrimp in each mold.

  7. Grill takoyaki balls, allowing it to cook about 3 to 4 minutes before flipping the ball over using a takoyaki pick.

  8. Grill the other side of the takoyaki another 3 minutes until golden brown.

  9. When browned, remove takoyaki from the pan and place on a plate.

  10. Garnish the takoyaki with okonomiyaki sauce (or substitute sauce). Then add mayonnaise, and sprinkle with dried bonito flakes and green aonori seaweed.

  11. Serve immediately.

Non-Traditional Toppings

  • Scrambled egg garnished with teriyaki sauce

  • Chopped green onions and kizaminori (thinly sliced dried seaweed)

  • Tempura sauce 

  • Shredded mozzarella cheese (melted)

  • American cheese slices (melted)

Special Equipment

  • Takoyaki cast iron pan (to use on the range of a stove), or an electric takoyaki pan

  • Takoyaki pick

  • Brush for coating takoyaki pan with oil (optional)