August 27, 2020

Savory, salty, and just generally delicious, takoyaki is an incredibly popular Japanese street food. Tako means octopus and yaki indicates the cooking method, in this case, pan-frying. Sometimes called “octopus balls” in English, takoyaki is made of a batter infused with dashi (dried kelp and fish flakes) which is filled with diced octopus, tempura scraps, pickled ginger, and green onion. These ingredients are fried together in a special pan and turned over with a small pick to cook both sides evenly and create the classic round takoyaki shape.

Toppings are also an important element of takoyaki, and they typically include takoyaki sauce (which is similar to worcestershire sauce), Japanese mayonnaise, bonito (fish flakes), and seaweed flakes. Nice and crisp on the outside and tender on the inside, takoyaki is a delicious Japanese snack.

The Invention of Takoyaki

Takoyaki is believed to have been invented in 1935 by a street vendor from Osaka named Tomekichi Endo. He originally made a dish called choboyaki, which is similar to takoyaki in flavor but not in shape. Choboyaki is rectangular and flat with round bumps, resembling bubble wrap or Lego blocks. Inspired by akashiyaki, a small round dumpling from the Hyōgo Prefecture, Endo created a version of choboyaki with a round shape, resulting in the first ever version of the takoyaki that we know today.

Types of Takoyaki

Since then, takoyaki’s popularity has spread beyond Osaka and can be found in regions all across Japan. Because of this, many different variations of takoyaki have been created. Although making takoyaki does require some special equipment and a skillful flip, the batter, fillings, and toppings can all be experimented with to create fun new flavors. For example, the classic Osaka version of takoyaki does not include cabbage, but in several other regions of Japan, including Tokyo, cabbage is a commonly used ingredient. There are also variations on the sauces used, including citrusy ponzu sauce and sesasame-based goma dare sauce. You can find different versions of takoyaki in Japan depending on the location as well as the season.

You deserve authentic Japanese treats

Where to find Takoyaki

You won’t have to look far to find takoyaki in Japan. It is available from many different street vendors as well as at restaurants, and you can even pick up some takoyaki from grocery and convenience stores. Takoyaki is an extremely popular festival food, and is featured heavily at summer festivals. This may be because takoyaki pairs well with beer, so the combination of hot takoyaki and a cold beer is a great summer treat. This pairing also makes takoyaki a popular menu item at izakayas, which are casual Japanese bars that serve alcohol and snacks.

Takoyaki is an iconic Japanese street food not only because of its distinct shape, but also because of its flavor. The use of dashi and egg gives the batter a unique flavor which pairs beautifully with the savory filling and the salty sauces and garnishes. Even if you aren’t in Japan, you can still satisfy your craving for takoyaki or try it for the first time with our Takoyaki Tei Corn Puffs! These corn puffs are perfectly snackable and capture all the delicious flavors of traditional takoyaki in one bite!

Courtney Thompson
Courtney Thompson

Courtney is a writer and editor with a bachelor's degree in English literature. When she's not writing, she enjoys cooking and going to concerts.


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