Fun And Easy "Build-Your-Own" Takoyaki Recipe

Molten-hot, gooey, and filled with bite-sized pieces of chewy octopus (or other non-tentacled fillings of your choice), takoyaki is a staple Japanese street food popularized in Osaka. But you don't have to hit the streets of Japan to taste takoyaki. They're also central to gatherings called tako-pa (short for "takoyaki party"). Similar to a communal hot pot party, during a tako-pa everyone gathers around a takoyaki maker and a spread of various ingredients to cook, engineer, and eat the perfect bite.

Whip up this easy 7-ingredient takoyaki batter by recipe developer Rika Hoffman, then assemble a group to fill the takoyaki with briny morsels of seafood, smoky chunks of meat, crisp veggies, and luscious melted cheese. This doesn't have to entail a lot of work. Divvy up some of the shopping and prep work, or invite everyone to bring a surprise filling, breaking the typical takoyaki mold with add-ins like potato chips, chili crisp, or even pork floss!

Fair warning: This is how traditions like takoyaki Russian roulette — a sadistic game of chance — are born. The takoyaki indents are filled with the usual suspects: boiled octopus, cheese, sausage, mochi — except one, which contains a small but mighty wallop (ahem, dollop) of wasabi. Everybody selects a takoyaki, and one unlucky fellow meets their fate: a wasabi bomb that implodes in a spectacularly sinus-clearing fashion. You may want to have ice cream on hand to soothe the burn.

Assemble your build-your-own takoyaki ingredients

First and foremost, gather the takoyaki batter ingredients: all-purpose flour, cornstarch, baking powder, kosher salt, eggs, soy sauce, and dashi (Japanese soup stock). You can make dashi from scratch using katsuobushi and kombu or simply mix instant dashi granules with water.

You'll also want to have all of the classic toppings on hand: takoyaki sauce, Kewpie mayo, aonori (seaweed flakes), and katsuobushi. Specifically, you'll want the finely shaved usukezuri or hanakatsuo variety of bonito flakes, which are used as toppings for takoyaki and okonomiyaki, rather than the thickly shaved atsukezuri flakes. These finely shaved katsuobushi flakes will be fluffy, feather-light, and translucent in appearance.

For fillings, we suggest seafood such as boiled octopus or "tako" (the dish's namesake), shrimp, mentaiko or tarako (cured pollock roe), sausages (or your choice of meat), scallions, kimchi, tenkasu (which can be substituted with puffed rice), beni shoga (pickled red ginger), shredded cheese, and kirimochi (shelf-stable blocks of hard mochi that become chewy and elastic when warmed).

Step 1: Mix the dry batter ingredients

To make the takoyaki batter, sift the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl and mix to combine.

Step 2: Combine the wet batter ingredients

In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, dashi, and soy sauce.

Step 3: Mix the wet and dry ingredients together

Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture in 2 additions, whisking thoroughly to eliminate lumps. Set batter aside.

Step 4: Prep the kirimochi

To prepare the toppings, cut the kirimochi into ¼- to ⅓-inch cubes, if using.

Step 5: Chop the scallions

Thinly slice the scallions, if using.

Step 6: Slice the boiled octopus

Cut the boiled octopus into small pieces, roughly ½ inch, if using.

Step 7: Prep the shrimp

Chop shrimp into small pieces, roughly ½ inch, if using.

Step 8: Slice sausages or other meat

Cut sausages (or your choice of meat) into small pieces, roughly ½ inch, if using.

Step 9: Prepare the mentaiko or tarako

Slice open the membrane of the mentaiko or tarako, if using, and scrape out the eggs using the dull edge of a knife. Discard the membrane.

Step 10: Chop up the kimchi

Chop kimchi into small, ¼-inch chunks, if using.

Step 11: Set up your takoyaki station

Assemble your takoyaki station by setting out the batter, fillings, and toppings.

Step 12: Heat the pan

Heat a takoyaki pan.

Step 13: Grease the pan

Spray or brush the pan with cooking oil.

Step 14: Pour in the batter

Once hot, pour the batter into the pan so each of the indents are filled to the brim. (It's OK if they overflow.)

Step 15: Add fillings

Add your choice of fillings to each indent.

Step 16: Rotate the takoyaki

After about 2 minutes, use skewers to partially rotate the takoyaki. (You'll slowly cook them on all sides.)

Step 17: Keep cooking and rotating the takoyaki

Continue to cook and rotate the takoyaki as needed. (If takoyaki are not full and round, add more batter to the pan and continue to cook and rotate.)

Step 18: Continue cooking the rest of your batter and fillings

Once the takoyaki are golden brown and crispy all over, they are done. Repeat cooking process with remaining batter and fillings, or save batter for up to one day.

Step 19: Top with condiments and serve

Divide the takoyaki among plates. Brush with takoyaki sauce, drizzle with mayonnaise, sprinkle with aonori and katsuobushi, and serve while hot.

What tools or equipment do you need to make takoyaki?

To make takoyaki, the most crucial piece of equipment is, of course, a takoyaki pan with half-sphere indents. There are two main options: an electric takoyaki maker, which can simply be plugged into an outlet, or a takoyaki pan, which could be cast iron or nonstick. If you go with a takoyaki pan, you may also want to acquire a portable burner for the purpose of cooking and eating communally.

Next, you'll also want a pair of takoyaki picks to rotate the takoyaki as they cook. These often come in sets with electric takoyaki makers, but for an alternative, wooden skewers or barbecue skewers can also be used — their pointed ends easily slide beneath the cooking takoyaki to rotate them.

Lastly, you'll need something to grease the takoyaki molds with. A can of nonstick cooking spray is great, but a tablespoon of oil and a pastry or basting brush will also do the trick.

What are some good takoyaki filling combinations?

The takoyaki flavor combinations are really endless, but here are a few ideas to get you started. The classic takoyaki contains octopus, tenkasu, scallions, and beni shoga and is topped with takoyaki sauce, aonori, Kewpie mayo, and katsuobushi. Mix it up by adding in some melty cheese, a stretchy cube of mochi, or some kimchi for extra tang and spice.

The kimchi-cheese-mochi combination is a versatile one that pairs well with your choice of protein, from sausage to seafood. Mentaiko-mayo is another classic. Add cheese for even more richness and gooeyness, and cut the unctuousness by finishing off the sauce-slathered orbs with a sprinkling of fresh scallions.

Feel free to experiment with ingredients beyond the ones we've listed here. Sriracha, yuzu ponzu, squid, ham, edamame, scallops, cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, chicken, corn, potato chips, and fish cakes like chikuwa or kamaboko are all welcome at the takoyaki party!

Fun And Easy "Build-Your-Own" Takoyaki Recipe
5 from 21 ratings
Gather around the table for a shared takoyaki party. Everyone can choose their own fillings and toppings for these savory Japanese pancake bites.
Prep Time
20
minutes
Cook Time
15
minutes
Servings
6
servings
Close-up of 8 takoyaki balls on a yellow-rimmed plate
Total time: 35 minutes
Ingredients
  • For the batter
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups dashi
  • 1 ½ teaspoons soy sauce
  • For the optional fillings
  • Kirimochi
  • Scallions
  • Boiled octopus
  • Raw shrimp
  • Cooked sausages (or hot dogs, ham, or bacon)
  • Mentaiko or tarako
  • Kimchi
  • Tenkasu
  • Beni shoga
  • Shredded cheese
  • Wasabi
  • For the toppings
  • Takoyaki sauce
  • Kewpie mayonnaise
  • Aonori
  • Katsuobushi
Directions
  1. To make the takoyaki batter, sift the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl and mix to combine.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, dashi, and soy sauce.
  3. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture in 2 additions, whisking thoroughly to eliminate lumps. Set batter aside.
  4. To prepare the toppings, cut the kirimochi into ¼- to ⅓-inch cubes, if using.
  5. Thinly slice the scallions, if using.
  6. Cut the boiled octopus into small pieces, roughly ½ inch, if using.
  7. Chop shrimp into small pieces, roughly ½ inch, if using.
  8. Cut sausages (or your choice of meat) into small pieces, roughly ½ inch, if using.
  9. Slice open the membrane of the mentaiko or tarako, if using, and scrape out the eggs using the dull edge of a knife. Discard the membrane.
  10. Chop kimchi into small, ¼-inch chunks, if using.
  11. Assemble your takoyaki station by setting out the batter, fillings, and toppings.
  12. Heat a takoyaki pan.
  13. Spray or brush the pan with cooking oil.
  14. Once hot, pour the batter into the pan so each of the indents are filled to the brim. (It's OK if they overflow.)
  15. Add your choice of fillings to each indent.
  16. After about 2 minutes, use skewers to partially rotate the takoyaki. (You'll slowly cook them on all sides.)
  17. Continue to cook and rotate the takoyaki as needed. (If takoyaki are not full and round, add more batter to the pan and continue to cook and rotate.)
  18. Once the takoyaki are golden brown and crispy all over, they are done. Repeat cooking process with remaining batter and fillings, or save batter for up to one day.
  19. Divide the takoyaki among plates. Brush with takoyaki sauce, drizzle with mayonnaise, sprinkle with aonori and katsuobushi, and serve while hot.
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