What is takoyaki?
Takoyaki is a ball-shaped Japanese food which was originated in Osaka. It is made of a wheat flour-based batter that filled with minced tako (octopus). “ Yaki” means flipping on a pan. Takoyaki is often eaten as snack or light meal, but these days, some people have it as their usual lunch or dinner. Typically, mayonnaise and takoyaki sauce are brushed , and green lavers and dried bonito flakes are added on it as a finishing touch. Depending on what one likes, it is also good with putting other foods like diced rice cakes, cheeses or bacons instead of octopus. Takoyaki is often sold at yatai (stalls at a festival). Today, it became popular, especially among the people in Kansai area, to have their own takoyaki pans in their houses. Moreover, it is normal for teenagers to held a takoyaki party with their friends today.
The history of takoyaki
Before takoyaki came into being, there were other similar food named choboyaki and radioyaki.
Choboyaki is a food oriented in Taisyo period. “Chono” means “ little”. Although its shape is very similar to takoyaki, octopus was not used to make it. Red pickled ginger, konnyaku and dried young sardines were standard ingredients for choboyaki. A sauce or soy sauce was brushed on it. More than Akashiyaki, the way of eating choboyaki was more similar to takoyaki. Choboyaki was mainly sold at a matsuri or a shrine festival. Sometimes, it was cooked at a home as a snack for children. This was one of the steps to make choboyaki as a common-man quality.
A little after that choboyaki was originated, radioyaki came into being. Radioyaki was made from flour dissolved in soup stock. Beef tendon and konnyaku were added in it. The shape was almost as same as takoyaki. Compared to choboyaki, the size of radioyaki was a little larger. At that time, radio was thought to be one of the characteristics of stylishness. Therefore, the name of radioyaki stem from radio.
In 1935, the food company “Aidiya” developed radioyaki into takoyaki. Endo Tomekichi, the founder of Aidiya corporation, put eggs and octopus in radioyaki and named it takoyaki. Before the war, basically, takoyaki was eaten without any sauce. However, after the World War II, the special sauce for takoyaki was created and this sauce made takoyaki more popular in Osaka.
How to cook delicious takoyaki
- Add “tenkasu”
Tenkasu is deep fried butter ball usually added to flour-made foods. Tenkatsu brings many merits to make good takoyaki. Its taste becomes full-bodied and it is easy to shape beautiful sphere because tenkasu absorbs water and swells up.
- Adjust the quantity of ingredients
If the dough contains too much water, the shape will be easily crumbled and become difficult to flip takoyaki. Keep the quantity of flour somewhat less so that its appearance is done to a beautiful brown.
- Set appropriate temperature
To make crispy outside and creamy inside takoyaki, turn the heat up high. It is just the right temperature if the dough began to sizzle on the pan.
Takoyaki in Osaka
In Osaka, there are many takoyaki shops. Most of all are small scale shops like private managements. Although restaurants which prepare the place to eat inside still have a demand, there are also stores only for take out. These days, takoyaki shops as tenants of large commercial establishments started to advance. On the other hand, the number of dagashiya (popular-priced candy store) that makes takoyaki is decreasing.
A variety of flavors
There is no rule of takoyaki. Depending on what you what ingredients you put in, it is able to enjoy various kinds of flavors.
- Vegetable ( broccoli, asparagus, onion, tomato)
Putting in vegetables is getting popular especially among young women. Vegetables make its taste light, simple, and healthy.
- Fish and shellfish (squid, shrimp, oyster)
Fish and shellfish really match to the taste of takoyaki. To enjoy new taste and texture, it is one way to put fish or shellfish instead of octopus.
- Fruits (strawberry, kiwi, blueberry, pineapple)
Although fruits don’t sound to match with takoyaki, the sweetness and freshness of fruits make you crazy about it.
Takoyaki is very famous food not only in Kansai but also in other areas. It is popular among young age to held a takoyaki party (takopa).
Instead of octopus, it is possible to try a variety of tastes by changing the ingredients and this is one of attractions of takoyaki.
To experience full-blown takoyaki, one way is to go to a restaurant.
To enjoy many flavors, it is good to make by yourself in your house.