This is my first feature of a guest poster. Susan Conley from Cook The Stone food blog graciously offered to review takoyaki pans. Now I’ll have no excuse to try one out and make my own takoyaki, one of my favorite food memories from my trip to Japan this summer.
If you have any specific questions about the post, recipe, and photo credits, please contact her directly at hello [at] cookthestone [dot] com and visit her site.
How to Look for the Best Takoyaki Pan
Takoyaki is one of the more popular street foods in Japan. Translated to “fried octopus,” takoyaki are ball-shaped dumplings slathered in a tangy and savory sauce and topped with bonito flakes. It is best eaten while piping hot.
Sure, it may not ring a bell like other Japanese dishes like sashimi or sushi which you can make with the best sushi knife. But I know a lot of people who are slowly getting into the takoyaki bandwagon.
Takoyaki is said to have originated in Osaka before the outbreak of World War II. It is commonly sold by street vendors although you can also buy them at supermarkets, convenience stores, food courts and specialty restaurants around Japan.
It is often served with takoyaki sauce which has a slightly salty taste. It goes well with alcoholic drinks like beer, so it is not surprising that many Japanese gastropubs or Izakayas have it on the menu.
Takoyaki is not only good enough for snacks but also filling enough to be served as a meal. Flour is used as the main ingredient, making it filling enough just like bread and pancakes. In fact, many households in Japan have takoyaki pans so they can cook takoyaki for dinner.
If you’ve eaten takoyaki before and interested in preparing one at home, then you should consider getting a takoyaki pan.
What is a takoyaki pan?
A takoyaki pan is usually a griddle manufactured out of cast iron. The iron allows even heating of the takoyaki which is usually turned during the cooking process to pull the uncooked batter to the bottom of the rounded cavity.
Don’t let the name fool you as takoyaki pan can be used in other ways apart from preparing delicious takoyaki.
Other uses of takoyaki pan
You can also use a takoyaki pan in making a good, steamy Chinese dumpling. Steaming homemade dumplings is quick and easy when you use a takoyaki pan.
It’s also possible to make desserts using a takoyaki maker. Cake pops, for instance, can be prepared with a takoyaki pan. You can also roast marshmallows directly in the indent of the takoyaki pan to have your roasted marshmallows.
Even om-rice, which is rice cooked inside an omelet with ketchup— can be made using a takoyaki pan.
How to make homemade takoyaki
Here’s a simple recipe to make your own takoyaki at home. This is easy as you would likely be over it in less than 20 minutes. You’ll be needing dashi, a class of soup and cooking stock popularly known for forming the base for miso soup. This recipe makes about 30 pieces.
- Dashi, 2 cups
- Eggs, two
- Soy sauce, one teaspoon
- Table salt, quarter teaspoon
- All-purpose flour, one cup plus two tablespoons
- Green onions, three, finely chopped
- Octopus, about 5 ounces, cut into half-inch cubes
- Pickled red ginger, chopped, 2 tablespoons
For the sauce, you’ll need the following:
- One teaspoon of ketchup
- One teaspoon of sugar
- Three parts Japanese Worcestershire-style sauce
Step by step guide:
- Combine the Dashi with the eggs, salt, soy sauce and flour in a large bowl. Mix well.
- Place the Takoyaki pan over a gas stove. Increase the heat to high and wait for the oil to start smoking.
- Put oil on a paper towel and use this to coat the pan. This would prevent the batter from sticking.
- Transfer the batter so that it would fill the holes of the pan. Drop the octopus pieces in the batter then sprinkle the green onions and ginger.
- Cook for 1-2 minutes at medium heat. Turn over the batter with a Takoyaki turner or a chopstick. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes.
- Transfer the Takoyaki on a plate then pour the sauce. Add mayo to taste. You can then sprinkle it with green dried seaweeds and dried bonito flakes.
Top 3 Takoyaki Pans
I’ll be picking three takoyaki pans which I feel should be easy to use even for a person who has no previous experience in cooking takoyaki.
This electric takoyaki pan features a fluorine resin coated plate that is fully removable and easy to clean. It measures 9.9 inches long, 3.2 inches wide and 14.8 inches tall.
It is an excellent pan for cooking takoyaki. I think it is well designed with high sides that prevent the batter from pouring all over the place. It can also heat up evenly although I have noticed that the corner takoyakis usually take a bit longer to cook. Moreover, the non-stick part of the pan works very well as long as you use oil on it.
It is also very lightweight at just 3 pounds, although some people would also find the unit flimsy. But for its price, I don’t think you can find a better deal than this electric takoyaki pan.
This cast iron pan is slightly bigger than the electric takoyaki pan preceding it with dimensions of 10 x 4 x 15 inches. And thanks to its cast iron material, it is also heavier at about 5 pounds.
As you would want from a takoyaki pan, this cast iron pan has a non-stick surface. The batter does not stick at all. You will be able to easily remove the takoyaki out of it. Moreover, the pan heats up quickly and evenly.
Aside from cooking takoyaki, you can use this pan in cooking other dishes such as Ebleskivers or traditional Danish cakes that are very similar to American pancakes.
Rounding out our list is this takoyaki grill pan that measures 8.3 inches long, 10.2 inches wide and 1.5 inches tall. It weighs about 2 pounds.
The grill pan has a non-stick surface so you should have an easy time cleaning it. The takoyaki won’t also stick to the surface. There’s a little groove between holes, too, that will help you in guiding chopsticks when you are to break up the sections.
These three takoyaki pans are excellent choices if you want to have a pan that you can use for cooking the popular Japanese street food. The TK electric takoyaki pan, though, is my favorite because it is the easiest to use. I also feel that it has the right size for a takoyaki pan.
Thank you, Susan for your review and guest post! I’m looking forward making takoyaki at home.
Other Japan post links from my travels earlier this summer:
Japan 3: Hiroshima and Kyoto (and more about takoyaki)