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.
Great Backround information:
kare_raisu: Nice job with the takoyaki... (...and welcome to Flickr!) I'm personally a fan of takoyaki with Kewpie; I like how the Kewpie lightens up the whole dish.
I'm glad the takoyaki turned out well. It never even occurred to me to make my own, but just last night I had some which was just horrid. It was so undercooked that there was no crust to speak of on the outside, losing huge points on texture.
This all came about when I made a late-ish run to Marukai, Shin-sen-gumi (robata), and Kappo Honda, arriving at Marukai just as they closed! (I had their Sunday hours off by half an hour... I usually make my runs much earlier in the day.)
The robata @ Shin-sen-gumi, (1st time for me as I usually go to their ramen-ya), was good to very good, [still like S.D.'s own Yakyudori much better for both quality and price...]. Had their gyutan, hatsu, teba, kawa (not kawasu), pork belly, pork rump, tomato, fried natto, and perhaps a few others that I cannot remember right now. The best was their gyutan, pork belly and kawa, in that order.
The real disappointment was in Kappo Honda - frankly it was horrible. In additon to the takoyaki I had some mekabu tororo, ika natto, buta kakuni, nankotsu no karaage, geso shio-yaki, gohan, and shiratama zenzai. They were all terrible other than the gohan and the complimentary kyuri oshinko!
Thank you for the welcome and compliments cgfan!
After drooling over all the food porn posted on this site, i succumbed to peer pressure and finally bought a digital camera. [yep - a week ago, believe it or not!].
Working in a kitchen has taught me not to send out anything that you yourself would not take great pleasure in eating. It may have been a case of a busy night (?), novice or a simply careless cook.
If the latter is the case, it is truly a shame. As a cook you need to always have it in the back of your mind that people are paying top dollar and need to be more than just satisfied.
You probably know about Book-off! in the same center as Marukai, but if you don't --I recommend it. Great books and hard-to-come by Japanese CDs that I know would spark your interest.
You are right on the Kewpie, it is my favorite mayonanaise on the market. Have you tried the brand with the rooster on it?
I have to check out shin-sen-gumi, the selection you describe sounds like it defintely worth the hour drive.
I posted on Ebisu in August: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/321339
My bosses brother manages the grocery portion of the ebisu complex and I think they do a great job at the restaurant. You may be interested in their Yoshoku restaurant, Bon Marche. Yoshoku cuisine is my favorite subsection in the world of Japanese Culinaria. It has a fantastic bakery and dont miss the beef stew (although the old chef was a bit defter in work).
Very tasty looking... I've seen countless takoyaki features on tv in Japan and the key is the art of cooking them with the right level of gooey-ness inside and crispy-ness outside. There are some restaurants in Tokyo that provide you with the batter and the pan and let you cook your own. Osaka is the true home of takoyaki though.....BTW, I spied curry takoyaki balls at the Tokyu Food Market in Shibuya last month. I'm going to check them out next time I'm there. Cheers.
Thought I'd bump this up, as after getting fed up with the lack of takoyaki in SF, I went out and bought myself a cast iron pan at the Japanese hardware store! (A pretty penny @ $24, but it's so going to be worth it. I also noticed they sell one on amazon for about $30.)
Considering how hard it is to find house-made takoyaki at restaurants (most I've been to that even have it use the frozen reheated kind), I was surprised how easy it was to make! Well, the basic jist of it. So far I've made 5 batches in 4 days (I love the stuff!) and the first few weren't very pretty, but they've all tasted good. It's gradually getting better, so once I get some perfect spheres (and I find my camera) I'll post.
kare_raisu, good call on the baking powder! I added some of that on my most recent batch as well as some grated namaimo & there was a difference!
Also on my most recent batch (which was with scallops, so hotateyaki I guess), I experimented with using green tea instead of dashi. It was surprisingly good.