Monday, March 13, 2017

Our Best Homemade Takoyaki たこ焼き

"Mum, can you cook takoyaki for me? Pleeeeeeeeeease...

Takoyaki also known as Octopus Balls is one of Japan’s famous street food originated from Osaka.

Since the day we left Osaka, I had been hearing this repetitive request from my son every now and then, asking me to cook takoyaki for him. Shame on me... After 3 months coming back from our Osaka trip, I had not cook any takoyaki yet.

"Mum, these takoyaki are as not good as the ones at Osaka and Kyoto!" said my son after trying out takoyaki in a Japanese restaurant at Melbourne. At one glance, I knew instantly why my son was critical with the Melbourne-made takoyaki... They were double deep-fried!!! And obviously not freshly cooked in a takoyaki pan!!!

"You said that you are going to cook takoyaki and you didn't!" said my son as he was trying to emphasize his disappointment further. Despite all, my desperate son still ate all of the disappointing takoyaki. And I can see that he really like his takoyaki and he is very desperate!!! LOL!

Being a mum of a takoyaki-loving boy, I guess there is no escape for me... Imagine me, a non-Japanese cooking authentic takoyaki??? I'll try and hope that mine will be as good as the Osaka ones. To do that, I must wear my "must win headband" LOL! Plus lots of research and reading... Guess what? I did it!!!

homemade takoyaki
"Mum, your homemade takoyaki is the best!!!"

As usual, if you google for "takoyaki recipe", there are heaps!!! So which is the best?

To my son, our homemade takoyaki is the best... not because he angkat me (meaning over praising someone in Singlish) LOL! ... because I asked him what sort of takoyaki he wants and I have cooked the takoyaki that he wants accordingly.

Best homemade takoyaki??? I must say that there is no best or most perfect takoyaki recipe because what is best to us might not be the best to you... Ours are the best because we like our takoyaki to be the firm type with crispy outside. Yum! Yum!

What firm takoyaki? I have a few tips to share if you want to make your own takoyaki accordingly to the texture that you like.

Firm vs Creamy inside

As I was thinking of which takoyaki recipe to use, I didn't do a eeny, meeny, miny, moe! After comparing many takoyaki recipes, I have noticed two typical ways of mixing takoyaki batter.

For takoyaki with firm inside, the typical recipe contains 2 eggs with 120 to 150g flour and dashi stock or water mixed in the standard ratio, 100g flour : 300ml dashi stock or water.

For takoyaki with soft and creamy inside, more liquid is required to make the batter extra runny and the typical recipe contains dashi stock or water mixed in the standard ratio, 100g flour : 480ml dashi stock or water.

And of course, for takoyaki with extra firm inside, the ratio of a typical recipe can go as low as 100g flour : 125ml dashi stock or water.

What is the perfect ratio to use? I can't say which is the best because it really depends on your preference. My recipe is the one that makes takoyaki with firm inside and they are perfect for us!

For a perfect texture, I would also highly recommend the use of:

1) cake flour or flour with 8% protein content
If unavailable, you can add 20g cornflour into every 130g plain / all purpose flour that you use.

2) baking powder
Most recipes don't add baking powder but I notice some do!!! If you like your takoyaki to be fluffy, you have to add baking powder. Based on what I have seen, the standard amount of baking powder to add is 2 teaspoons in every 150g (1 cup) flour used.

3) dashi stock
According to Just One Cookbook, dashi is a Japanese stock that is made from kombu (dried kelp), bonito flakes (dried smoked thinly shaved skipjack tuna), anchovies or sardine, with one ingredient or in a combination of two, three or all. Obviously, takoyaki made with dashi stock are extra tasty than the ones made with just water and salt.

4) tenkasu
Ten is from the Japanese word, tenpura, 天ぷら (tempura) and kasu is from the Japanese word, 屑 (kuzu) which means "rubbish". Together, Tenkasu refers to the by-product of tempura... You know the small bits and pieces of fried batter that are left in the oil after frying that we will eventually discard.

My husband reckon that the addition of tenkasu in his takoyaki is not absolutely necessary but my son and I reckon the addition of tenkasu is totally essential to make our takoyaki extra fragrant and tasty. Hmmm... What can I say? Personal preference?

Honestly speaking, cooking takoyaki without the addition tenkasu is really super quick easy. Just mix the batter and cook... That's it. If you are cooking tenkasu from scratch, you will need extra time and a lot more cleaning due to the deep frying. Despite all, I still vote for takoyaki with tenkasu! To me, takoyaki with no tenkasu is so plain so plain... LOL!

Want to know how to cook tenkasu from scratch? I will have a how-to video to show later.

5) interesting fillings
Besides cooked octopus and cheese, you can cook your takoyaki with many other types of fillings like...
canned tuna or salmon
cooked prawn or squid
meat-free options like corn or peas

6) toppings
Takoyaki sauce, Japanese mayonnaise and bonito flakes are a MUST to add because takoyaki without these toppings are again so plain so plain to eat!!! LOL!

7) adequate oil for brushing
The generous brushing of oil will make your takoyaki crispy or will prevent the takoyaki from sticking onto your pan especially if your pan is not the non-stick type.

crispy tenkasu
This is my homemade tenkasu.
You can buy the packet tenkasu in some specialised Japanese grocery shops but I prefer to make my own.
crispy tenkasu
So crispy and delicious!
To me, the addition of tenkasu is essential to make takoyaki extra extra delicious.
This is our homemade takoyaki with the perfect spongy inside and a nice crispy outside.
Not too soft or too firm! Just yummy!!! Just right!!!

Want to see how I cooked my tenkasu and takoyaki? Here are my videos.

To cook takoyaki, you need a takoyaki pan and two takoyaki picks or wooden skewers and you can buy these at ebay if you are living in a place that does not sell any Japanese cooking products.

Imagine. If a non-Japanese like me can cook delicious authentic takoyaki at home, I'm sure you can do it too :)

Here's my recipes.

Our favourite takoyaki with firm inside and crispy outside
Serve 4 as snack size, makes about 32 standard balls depending on the size of your takayaki pan

For the batter:
150g cake flour or 130g all purpose / plain flour plus 20g (2 tbsp) cornflour
2 tsp baking powder
500ml (2 cups) dashi stock
2 large eggs
2 tsp soy sauce

cooked octopus, cut into small bite sizes
tenkasu, see below for recipe - My son said that our perfect Takoyaki must contain tenkasu!
grated cheese
finely sliced spring onions, the green parts only
red pickled ginger, finely chopped

Other types of fillings:
canned tuna or salmon
cooked prawn or squid
meat-free options: corn or peas

store bought takoyaki sauce
Japanese mayonnaise
bonito flakes
aonori (seaweed flakes) - Ops! I forgot to add in this video!

adequate vegetable oil for brushing

Combine flour, cornflour (if you are using all purpose / plain flour) and baking powder. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk dashi stock or water plus salt, eggs and soy sauce until combined.

Sift flour mixture into the egg mixture and whisk gently until smooth and combined. Do not over-mix. Cover mixture with cling wrap and let it rest at room temperature for 15 mins.

Transfer batter to a cup with a measuring cup with a spout for pouring the batter or use a ladle to scoop batter.

Heat the takoyaki pan at medium high heat. Brush takoyaki pan (all parts including the holes and the connecting area) generously with oil. Or your takoyaki won't be crispy or will stick onto your pan if your pan is not the non-stick type. When pan is hot enough, pour or scoop adequate batter to fill the holes. The semi-cooked batter should start to puff up and flow out of the holes. Distribute the fillings in adequate amounts evenly over the cooking batter.

When the bottom surface of the balls become firm, use your takoyaki picks or skewers to break the connecting batter in between the balls. Stuff the excess batter and the edges into the balls and

and turn the balls while stuffing them. Keep turning the balls while cooking them and they will turn nice and round. Keep cooking and turning until the balls are golden brown and crispy.

Transfer takoyaki balls onto a serving plate and top the balls with takoyaki sauce, mayonnaise, aonori and bonito flakes. Serve immediately.

Homemade Tenkasu

Make about 5 serves (each serve is enough to cook 32 takoyaki, see above)
250ml (1 cup) cold dashi, plus 1 to 4 tbsp to adjust the consistency later
1 tbsp white vinegar - I used Japanese rice vinegar
150g (1 cup) all purpose / plain flour
15g potato starch or corn flour
adequate cooking oil for deep frying

Combine cold dashi and vinegar into a large mixing bowl. Add all purpose flour and potato starch or cornflour into vinegar mixture and using a pair of chopsticks or a fork to mix lightly until mixture forms a dribbly crepe-like loose type of batter. If the mixture is too thick, stir in more dashi or water tablespoon by tablespoon until the consistency is dribbly enough. Do not over-mix or beat batter.

Heat cooking oil to 170-180°C or 340°F - it is important to cook tenkasu in hot frying oil.

Use a pair of chopsticks to scoop and dribble drops of batter into the hot oil and cook for 2-3 mins or until crispy. Remove and drain on absorbent paper. Repeat until all batter is used up.

Tenkasu can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week or in a freezer for up to 6 months. To reheat, spread cold or frozen tenkasu in a thin layer in a large baking tray lined with baking paper and bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for 10 mins or until tenkasu is crispy again.

Happy Cooking
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  1. I tried takoyaki once at a Japanese restaurant and I did not like it. But I am sure I will like yours very much!

  2. Oooo this is lovely! Your son must be the happiest boy! I would love good home made takoyaki! I don't eat them often in singapore as many places put barely anything inside!

  3. Hello thank you for sharing your recipe. I come from Germany and i used (Speisestärke - cornflour 20g) and measured all the ingredients. Unfortunately your recipe is not working :(. I was really sad about it. The dough is sooo´liquid :(.

    1. Hi, Sorry to hear that this recipe didn't work for you. I hope that you have added 150g cake flour OR 130g all purpose / plain flour plus 20g (2 tbsp) cornflour, NOT 20g cornflour only!!! Yes that the batter should be the runny type so that the octopus balls are soft and tender inside. If you prefer to use a firmer batter that makes firmer balls, you can mix 120g to 150g flour with 2 eggs plus 360 to 450ml dashi stock or water as mentioned in my blog post. Appreciate if you read my blog post thoroughly before you made any sad conclusion on my recipe. Thanks!

    2. Hello Zoe, thank you very much for your detailed instructions. I do know now what went wrong. In Germany i have to go to an asian grocery market to get the corn flour i need for your recipe. The German corn flour from the Supermarket are not the same.