Tasty Japan: Time to Eat!
Tako-yaki Octopus Dumplings
A festive snack cooked to a sunny brown
Pour wheat batter into hot semispherical molds, add diced octopus, flip the mixture about to cook into small round dumplings, and you have tako-yaki. Browned to a diameter of about 3 or 4 cm (perfect for popping in the mouth), they are sized for eating on the move, ideal for festival time.
Once out of the skillet, tako-yaki have a tempting fragrance and a crisp surface. Inside they are soft, and with one crunch they are practically ready to melt in your mouth. The small chunk of octopus inside has a slightly chewy texture. With their delectable bittersweet sauce, the taste is truly special. Not only that, they are topped off with a brushing of mayonnaise, savory bonito flakes and a dash of green nori seaweed, ready to satisfy. Some cooks add sugar, chocolate or diced fruit to the wheat batter, and the octopus can be replaced with cheese, mentaiko spicy cod roe, sausage, or mochi rice cake. Trying out different kinds is another way to enjoy tako-yaki.
Tako-yaki are easy to make at home, too, and that is another attraction. Tako-yaki started in Osaka, where you can now expect just about every home to have a special griddle for the purpose. Family tastes vary, of course. The treats are also sold frozen in supermarkets and elsewhere, and some people add them to their bento lunchbox as extra goodies.
In recent years, several chain franchises have sprung up. Tako-yaki have become a favorite—not only for festivals, but for everyday eating, too.