How to Make Takoyaki or Octopus Dumplings
As amazing as it sounds, takoyaki or literally "fried octopus" is delicious. If you are adventurous like me, then trying new ethnic foods is not scary. You may be surprised and end up with a new favorite snack. Takoyaki is a Japanese snack that really is made of bits of octopus, green onion and ginger. They are made of a batter that is fried in a special takoyaki pan and served with a variety of sauces.
How to make Takoyaki or fried fish dumplings is easier than it sounds. All you need is a few specialty tools such as a Takoyaki Pan, turning tool, recipe for dumplings and dipping sauce. Takoyaki is a popular snack in Japan and is growing in popularity in other countries such as the US as well. If you are an adventurous cook like me, you may want to give this dish a try.
According to Japanese cooking history, takoyaki was made popular around 1935 by a street vendor, Tomekichi Endo. Inspired by Akashiyaki which is a small round dumpling of egg batter and octopus from the city of Akashi, takoyaki spread throughout Japan. "Yaki" is derived from "Yaku" which means to fry or grill in Japanese. You know like dishes such as teriyaki, sukiyaki, etc.
I hope I can encourage you to be brave like me and give these little "fishy" dumplings a try. You never know, you may find a new favorite snack!
Why Use a Specialty Cooking Pan?
The reason to use a special pan is that it is designed to make perfectly round dumplings. Plus, the design of this pan with the wells allows you to add the octopus, onion and ginger filling during the frying process. Besides this specialty cookware, you will need a turning tool to fry these dumplings in hot oil in the wells. Once you master the technique of turning the dumplings, you will find this an easy snack to make for the family or serve to friends as a treat.
I felt pretty confident in trying and making these octopus filled dumplings in a fry pan called a Takoyaki Pan. I found this pan very similar to the pan I use to make the danish pancake called Ebelskivers. My family has been making these round pancakes in a similar specialty pan for decades. Even though the batter is different, the frying process is the same.
I have written an article on how to make delicious Aebleskivers using an Ebelskiver Pan as well. These round pancakes are a delicious breakfast or brunch treat!
I have learned that the secret to perfect stuffed pancakes or fried dumplings is to get the pan hot, use a little bit of oil and know when to turn the batter with a special turning tool. I use a knitting needle as my turning tool, but they do sell a special takoyaki pick to use to turn the takoyaki. Once the batter browns on the bottom be ready to quickly turn all the wells 180 degrees, fill each with a small amount of the filling and continue to cook, turning until the dumpling is round.
One of the Best Takoyaki Pans
How to Make Takoyaki - Easy to Follow Steps
In searching for a good step by step video, I found this one that really shows the process of frying the batter in the Takoyaki pan. I recommend watching the technique of how to use the turning tool to create a perfectly (or near perfect) round dumpling. It helps to have all your ingredients ready, batter made and the platter ready to place your cooked dumplings. Of course, also family or friends with an appetite to give these dumplings a try!
Takoyaki Batter Recipe
- 1 2/3 cup flour
- 2 1/2 cup dashi broth
- 2 eggs
- Dash of salt
- 1 cup chopped octopus
- 1/2 cup chopped green onion
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
- Prepare dashi broth per instructions. Set aside.
- Put flour and salt in large mixing bowl. Make a well and add eggs. Mix well adding broth until batter is a thick consistency with no lumps.
- Prepare filling ingredients, set aside.
- Heat the takoyaki pan according to pan instructions.
- Pour batter in hot seasoned wells of pan, sprinkle filling over batter and cook until edges of batter are browned. Turn with turning tool, frying all sides of dumpling until perfectly round and brown.
- Remove browned dumplings to serving dish. Eat while hot.
- Serve with soy sauce, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce and dried bonito flakes.
Turning Picks - Important Tool
Would You Eat Takoyaki? - Fried octopus dumplings that is!
Ok, would you eat the fried octopus dumpling, takoyaki or prefer a sweeter version of a puff pancake?
All Kinds of Dumplings
Dumplings are found in many cultures!
Dumplings are basically cooked balls of batter or dough. They can be served plain or cooked with all types of flavors and ingredients. In my adventures in cooking a variety of ethnic foods, I have come across all kinds of dumplings. Some are fried, some are boiled, some are baked and most are delicious.
Dumplings are included in dishes in just about every country around the world. Each may vary in some way as to what they are filled with, how they are cooked or how they are served. Some dumplings are served with a main course such as Chicken and Dumplings while others are served as a snack such as Japanese Takoyaki.
My family's favorite dumplings are the American version of Chicken and Dumplings using a basic egg, water and flour batter. We don't need a special pan to cook them in; we just drop the dough by spoonfuls into the hot chicken broth. Once they are cooked, the meal is ready to eat.
I also like the oriental wontons which are a thin dough dumpling usually filled with a fine ground meat and vegetables. I make these every once in a while at home (no frozen versions for us) and serve with a sweet and sour sauce.
Here are some other dumplings that you may recognize:
- matzo ball
I am sure there are many more dumplings to add to this list, and I apologize if I missed your favorite dumpling.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons