Takoyaki - The best Japanese street food
Maybe you eat Takoyaki several times because they appear all over the world. Maybe you already know what it is but do not know what it is called yet. Or maybe this is the first time you hear about Takoyaki. No matter how much you know about TAKOYAKI, this article will help you have more interesting information about it.
Takoyaki is one of Japan’s best-known street food in particular and the Asian in general. Takoyaki is a compound word in which "tako" means octopus and "yaki" is to bake or grill. As simply a small ball-shaped Japanese snack with cooked octopus, Takoyaki is easy to serve and enjoy with just one skewer. Usually takoyaki is brushed on the surface with a layer of sweet salty sauce or mayonnaise and served with shavings of dried bonito.
Do you know Takoyaki's history? Takoyaki was first popularized in Osaka. Osaka Bay is located on the Seto Inland Sea, which is a major trading port for inland trade. Since Osaka were rapidly industrialized, it easily became one of the busiest transport lines in Japan. So, it was not a surprise that cuisines from other regions of Japan had such an opportunity to enter and be available in Osaka.
Once upon a time, there is a street vendor named Tomekichi Endo credited with his invention in 1935. Takoyaki was inspired by Akashiyaki, a small round dumpling from Hyogo made of an egg-rich batter. He tried changing Akashiyaki's recipe with wheat flour and octopus as a filling instead of egg-rich batter because the Seto Inland Sea was an abundant source of octopus. And then Takoyaki was born.
On my business trip to Japan I went to Osaka which is known as the hometown of Takoyaki. Of course I didn't miss this chance to try Takoyaki here. My first destination was Dotonbori - the busiest and most crowded food court in Osaka. There were many Takoyaki shops easily found here from small food booths to restaurants.
A plenty of choices made me feel so difficult to choose where to go, so I and my friends picked randomly a shop called あ っ ち ち 本 舗 - "atchi chi honpo" due to there was a lot of customers waiting in long queues. The common thing of all Takoyaki shops is they show their Takoyaki making process to the customers. While waiting, I observed how they made Takoyaki with professional skills. I felt like this job was a piece of cake! You just filled the molded pan with wheat flour-based batter and waited for the cake to be cooked then flipped it around. I also wanted to make Takoyaki once!
After 20 minutes in line, I ordered Takoyaki with 3 types of sauces: traditional, cheese and curry sauce. All of them look exactly the same from the outside, so you need to eat to feel the different flavors of each type. Unlike Takoyaki I have eaten so far, Takoyaki in Osaka is often served with large slices of onions which makes the dish more flavorful. Another thing surprised me was when I saw the super long queue of customers, I thought the shop would not have any seats left for us but it was not. There was only have few groups of people inside the shop. Most of the customers prefer to take away and enjoy Takoyaki on the street rather than eat in the shop. Now I knew the reason why Takoyaki was called street food. ^^
I saw people make Takoyaki the last time and wanted to try it once! One day after working, my co-worker suggested me a shop where I can make Takoyaki by myself. So interesting! I was taken to the 串 カ ツ 田中 - "Kushikatsu Tanaka". They serve many specialties of Osaka and main dish is in its name, Kushikatsu (deep-fried skewered with single dipping in sauce ). But I came here just to make Takoyaki.
If you order the handmade Takoyaki set, the shop will prepare all necessary ingredients including molded pan, skewers, wheat flour-based batter (processed), ginger, octopus, bonito, spring onion ... and Takoyaki sauce, Mayonnaise. The steps were very simple. Put oil, flour and ingredients into molded pan in turn. Then, wait until the cake is cooked and flour hardened. Next, use a skewer to flip the cake 90 degree. It sounded simple but when I started I really felt not easy at all.
To make a delicious Takoyaki, it required skills. I couldn't make it because at first, it looked like the flour was already cooked but the inside was very soft so the batter can spill out anytime. So, you need to flip the uncooked batter quickly and continuously. Be careful with the mold pan because of the heat, you might get burnt.
After much efforts, we got Takoyaki made by ourselves. My Takoyaki looked not perfect as professional people but I was very happy about this new experience. Based on this, I have learned some experiences and wanted to share a few tips with you to make a perfect Takoyaki:
- First: Put lots of oil to the mold since the oil helps takoyaki form crispy skin and it’ll be easier for you to flip without the batter being stuck.
- Second: Generously pour the batter. When you see smoke coming out of the grill/plate, fill the hole with the batter. The mold should be covered with the batter after adding octopus and other ingredients.
- Third: Once the bottom of takoyaki balls are crispy, rotate 90 degree to let the uncooked batter pour out.
Through this article, hopefully everyone will have the same interesting experience as me and if you have any chances, please try making Takoyaki. No matter how it looks like, enjoy Takoyaki made by your own is still meaningful, right?
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