Yesterday was my first attempt at cooking takoyaki and I have to say that I am pretty happy with the results.
As far as hardware goes, the only essential is a takoyaki-ki (pan) and I picked up mine at the Costa Mesa Marukai for about $14. It is not a multitasker in any sense - unless you are Danish and like mini-abelskiver - but as Takoyaki are one of my favorite foods, it is a worthwhile purchase imho.
I am not sure of sources over the internet to procure one of these guys - maybe ebay?
There are three parts in the equation of takoyaki creation:
I utilized the straightforward recipe from japanesefood.about.com/od/seafoodfish/r/takoyaki.htm With regard to the batter, what is important is the inclusion of dashi stock in lieu of H20. To me dashi IS the backbone of the takoyaki, so please do not use plain old water.
Dashinomoto is perfectly acceptable, although you may wish to achieve richer results by means of a *from scratch* katsuobushi and konbu base broth. This time I used a dashi 'teabag' from Mitsuwa that I really like and I think produces a good stock.
The batter recipe calls for 2.5 cups dashi and 1 cup flour (sifted) as well as 2 eggs. I did not include dried shrimp as the package I had bought from the latino market went bad but did include a pinch of baking powder for puffiness.
This is really up to you and realizing the Japanese fondness for unusual ingredients (a la corn niblets on pizza), go crazy. I have heard of cheese and kimchi being included to produce a delicious batter ball.
Traditionally, you need tako (steamed octupus leg) - hence the name - chopped benishoga, green onion and maybe cabbage bits.
No tako, so I guess I made 'ebiyaki' with defrosted cooked rock shrimp in addition to minced g. onion and chopped beni.
I hold the toppings to be of great importance as well. You need an Okonomi sauce but you do not need to buy the expansive Otafuku ( www.otafukufoods.com ) brand as I did. I have had great results with the homemade version from Hiroko Shimbo's "Japanese Kitchen." Another idea is to dilute the Kikkoman tonkatsu sauce with some worstershire or apply as is.
I am not huge on mayonaise and I have been served takoyaki with a dab of it on the side - as I would likely serve it to friends. Occasionally - however- a light drizzling of Kewpie from a squirt bottle is a nice contrast to the earthy okonomi sauce.
The aonori (powdered seaweed resembeling mince parsely) is a cornerstone to the dish in my book although it may be diffcult to come across. And do not forget the *dancing* bonito flakes as well!
Process: Heat pan over medium, spray or brush with oil (liberally if you want a crispy exterior). Pour batter into recesses about 3/4 full. Quickly add fillings.
I used a lobster pick to turn the little bubbling guys over as they cooked. On some of them I needed to pour a little additional batter to produce a perfect sphere - do so as needed.
Cook to a golden hue.
Making Takoyaki is almost like cooking pancakes or frying tempura - you are constantly over the stove while full plates are being passed to the table and consistently being returned for replenishment.
If you are lucky -they disappear fast- you might get to taste them! ;)
These I made rank equally among the best I have bought. Nice and crispy on the outside and moist tender and molten (careful) hot on the inside.
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