If you’ve visited Japan before, then perhaps you were lucky enough to discover takoyaki, a hidden gem of a treat. Seeing someone fry those small bite-sized pancake balls for the first time can really elicit that sense of wonder. And if you didn’t already know, you can share that experience and make your own snacks with your friends and family, by purchasing your own takoyaki cooker. Even if octopus (or just seafood or meat in general) is something you know you’ll refrain from, there are quite a variety of snacks and alternatives that you can prepare. And for a measly 1000 yen (or roughly $10 USD), how can you go wrong?
Types of Takoyaki Cookers
The most common type of takoyaki cooker is the standard 18-piece cooker (pictured below). These typically retails for 1000 yen (approx. $10 USD) in Japan, though prices can vary if you plan to import. Another common type is the larger 24-piece cooker. Moving on, there also exist jumbo-sized takoyaki cookers, which are more of a gimmick. Often called Mega Takoyaki, or Giga Takoyaki, this kind of cooker can produce takoyaki as big as 8 – 10 cm a piece!
When you start getting into the premium side of takoyaki cookers, it’s important to keep in mind just how often you expect to be cooking with it. If you are a fan of hot plates, the kind used for cooking okonomiyaki and other Japanese cuisine, then you’ll be pleased to know that some even include a takoyaki plate. Having a multi-functional cooker is certainly more ideal, and being able to remove the plate to clean it is also a plus.
Finally, for those takoyaki connoisseurs, there is the revolving takoyaki cooker. This autonomous cooker will rotate the takoyaki for you, and while less interactive for a party setting, it’s still quite mesmerizing to watch.
Just like with any other recipe, many of the ingredients here can be substituted or omitted, so don’t worry if you can’t find everything on the list in your local area or if not every ingredient is to your liking. So long as you have a takoyaki cooker, then you should be good to go.
- Takoyaki flour (100g)
- Eggs (at least 2)
- Dashi (Japanese soup stock, 400ml)
- Tenkasu (tempura chips / flakes)
- Negi (finely sliced green onions)
- Beni shoga (red pickled ginger)
- Tako (Cooked octopus, or whatever you want instead of that)
- Katsuo Bushi (fish flakes, used as a topping)
- Aonori (seaweed powder, more of a garnish)
- Okonomi sauce ( the perfect sauce to drizzle on top)
- Kewpie Mayonnaise (a light Japanese mayo to drizzle on top)
How to Cook Takoyaki
If used with a standard cooker, this recipe will produce roughly 45 pieces of takoyaki. That’s three rounds of cooking for the standard 18 piece takoyaki cooker. Anyway, let’s take it from the top.
Step 1) Lightly oil the plate in the takoyaki cooker. A quick wipe down with a paper towel and vegetable oil should be fine, but don’t overdo it.
Step 2) Add tenkasu (tempura chips / flakes) to each slot in the cooker’s plate. Then turn the cooker on.
Step 3) Add 100 grams of takoyaki flour to a large bowl, and then add two beaten eggs with 400ml of dashi. Some people also add salt and shoyu (soy sauce), or even substitute the dashi with shoyu. It’s up to you.
Step 4) Stir the ingredients into a fine batter and start pouring the batter into each slot in the cooker’s plate. Don’t add too much. Between half and three quarters should be fine.
Step 5) Add negi (green onions) and beni shoga (red pickled ginger) if desired. Then add the main ingredient, the tako (cooked ocotopus). Some great alternatives include broccoli, cheese, mushrooms, kimchi, tofu, mochi, beef, pork, and chicken. The possibilities are endless!
Step 6) After adding your ingredients, wait a few moments and you can start flipping the takoyaki as they cook. They’ll start to take a semi-spherical shape and you can use a toothpick to poke around at the edges until they pop out. If the batter spills out, just push it back in. Roll each piece around in the slot so all sides cook evenly. If one piece looks too small, you may need to add a little more batter.
Step 7) When they all turn a nice shade of golden brown, it’s time to plop those balls onto a dish. You can then add your okonomi sauce, kewpie mayonaisse, katsuo bushi, aonori, and/or whatever you like. Parmesan cheese is also a great topping!
Step 8) Enjoy! If you used the standard 18 piece takoyaki cooker, you should have enough batter left to cook two more times. And don’t forget to leave room for dessert!
Simple Snacks & Takoyaki Alternatives
I hope you’re still hungry after all of that, because that takoyaki cooker you’ve got there can cook a whole lot more snacks than just octopus balls. Hopefully, you went above and beyond with your first round of cooking and tried some fun new alternatives. Take a look in your fridge or on your spice rack if you still need some more ideas. When you’re ready to move on to the next course, take a look at these great options:
So here’s an idea! Grab some of that vegetable oil, or whatever oil you use, and add just a small amount into each slot. About a quarter full should do it. When the oil starts bubbling, add some delicious cake batter and presto! You’ve got instant bite-sized donuts. Great with ice cream or chocolate fudge. Oh, and speaking of chocolate…
Grab a nice selection of snacks and fruits that go great with either cheese or chocolate. I hope you have some leftover donuts! Each of those slots in your takoyaki cooker can fit a portion of cheese or chocolate, and once it gets cooking, you have yourself a very beautiful fondue going on. Try melting an assortment of cheeses in each slot or mixing and matching your favorites. The same goes with the chocolates. Milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate; you name it and you’ve got it. Just make sure not to burn anything.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, the snacks you can cook with a takoyaki cooker are only limited by your imagination. Be sure to keep these ideas and recipes in mind the next time you plan a fun activity with your friends or family. Regardless of your taste for tako, there’s always something for everyone. You’d be surprised at what you could think up.
Do you have any recipes or snacks that you enjoy with your takoyaki cooker? Comment below and clue us in! We’d love to give them a try!