What is takoyaki? 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 takoyaki batter infused with dashi (dried kelp and bonito flakes) filled with diced octopus meat, tempura scraps, pickled ginger, and green onion. These ingredients are fried in a special takoyaki pan and turned over with a small pick to cook both sides evenly and create the classic round takoyaki recipe and shape.
Toppings are also an essential element of takoyaki, and they typically include takoyaki sauce (similar to Worcestershire sauce), Japanese mayonnaise, bonito flakes (fish flakes), and dried seaweed flakes. Nice and crisp on the outside and tender on the inside, takoyaki is a delicious Japanese food and snack.
The Invention of Takoyaki
Takoyaki is believed to have been invented in 1935 by a street vendor from Osaka named Tomekichi Endo. He initially made a dish called choboyaki, similar to takoyaki in flavor but not 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 ball that we know today.
Types of Takoyaki
Since then, takoyaki’s popularity has spread beyond Osaka and can be found in regions across Japan. Because of this, many different variations of takoyaki have been created. Although making takoyaki requires special equipment and a skillful flip, the takoyaki 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 citrus-y ponzu sauce and sesame-based goma dare sauce or even your classic soy sauce. You can find different versions of takoyaki in Japan depending on the location and the season.
Where to find Takoyaki
You won’t have to look far to find takoyaki in Japan. It is available from many street vendors and 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 combining 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!
Let's watch how takoyaki is made in our TikTok!