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Writer and recipe developer Caroline Caron-Phelps of Pickled Plum likes to snack on takoyaki—pillowy soft, bite-sized octopus cakes which are sold throughout Japan by tiny specialized takoyaki shops as well as yatais (street vendors), highway truck stops, supermarkets, and convenience stores. The ingredients for her home version—including the irresistibly tangy-sweet takoyaki sauce—can all be sourced from your local Japanese market. Inexpensive electric takoyaki makers can be ordered online from Amazon. Look for cooked octopus at your local fishmonger, or substitute drained, canned octopus.

Featured in “In Japanese, Onomatopoeic Words Describe Diverse Food Textures.”

Yield: makes 28 takoyaki balls
Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

For the takoyaki:

  • ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cups cake flour
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • ⅔ cups dashi*
  • Toasted sesame oil, for brushing
  • ½ cups (2½ oz.) finely chopped cooked octopus
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped onions

For topping:

  • Takoyaki sauce, such as Otafuku brand
  • Kewpie-brand Japanese mayonnaise
  • Pickled red ginger, julienned
  • Bonito flakes

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, eggs, and dashi.
  2. Plug the takoyaki maker and turn it on. Brush the molds and the top surface lightly with sesame oil. In a small bowl mix together the octopus and the onions and set aside.
  3. When the takoyaki maker is hot, pour a little batter into each mold until they are ¾ of the way full. Place a pinch of the octopus-onion mixture in the center of each mold, then add a little more batter to each one to cover the filling. (It’s okay if a little batter spills over.) Cook until the underside of the takoyaki balls are golden brown, 3–4 minutes. Using a skewer, carefully flip each ball over and continue cooking until the balls are uniformly golden brown and their insides are cooked but soft, 1–2 minutes more. Transfer to a plate and repeat until all the batter has been used.
  4. Squirt the takoyaki sauce and mayonnaise over the balls, top with red ginger and bonito flakes, and serve immediately.

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