Our first takoyaki party was a huge success!
Last night we had an opportunity to have some friends over and make a unique Japanese party food. Together, we were 15 people from 9 countries crowded into our living room and kitchen feasting on delicious foods with strange ingredients.
We had a takoyaki party!
Takoyaki was first popularized in Osaka, and it can be found at street vendor stalls throughout the country, especially at festivals. It’s a great party food because it’s easier to make in large quantities and the pieces are small and easily shared.
We had enough mouths to feed and work to do that we set up every flat surface in the kitchen as a different food prep area. They were:
The table (right side) – Batter mixing. We purchased 1kg takoyaki flour (it’s different from regular flour). We mixed 200g of flour with 2 eggs and ~600ml of water to form smooth takoyaki batter.
Small counter space between the sink and the fridge – Filling preparation. We asked our guests to bring different fillings, and to feel free to experiment. We ended up with octopus legs (the traditional filling, “tako” means “octopus”), squid, fish eggs, sausage, corn, shrimp, norwegian cheese (no Norwegians were present :(), green pepper, another kind of fish, and bananas. All of those things needed to be cut into small pieces. Our Japanese friends were highly skilled at chopping slippery things into the tiny bits.
Main counter space – Cooking. We had 2 special takoyaki pans at our disposal. The chefs poured batter into greased pans, added tenkasu (fluffy tempura bits), beni shoga (red ginger), green onion, and one or more of the fillings. When it was time, they flipped half-cooked spheres of takoyaki with precision and skill.
The table (left side) – Toppings. 6 pieces of takoyaki were placed in special plates to be served, but not before they were topped with okonomiyaki sauce (tastes a lot like ketchup + oyster sauce, as we discovered when we ran out and someone made more from scratch), mayonnaise, aonori (seaweed flakes), and katsuobushi (smoked, dried & shaved bonito fish).
It was a fair amount of work, and many people took turns in the kitchen. After a while it got hard to keep the fillings straight and we started to serve “surprise” plates. The anti-fish people in the room took some risky bites. One of the more popular original combinations was the norwegian cheese, sausage and green peppers. One batch of dessert takoyaki was made with different batter, banana and chocolate sauce, but I didn’t get to try it myself. It was the only one the Bunny wanted to eat for some reason…
It’s impossible to make takoyaki without a cast-iron pan with spherical indents. Thankfully I got one for my birthday and I’ll most likely be bringing it back to Canada with me when we leave Japan. Most of the ingredients will be difficult to track down…but I’m sure we will figure something out.