I love to try new foods from other cultures, especially ones I’ve never heard of before. Some of my best holiday memories involve sampling cheap local foods from street food stands. Disappointingly the UK has a fairly unexciting street food scene, well in Manchester this is true anyway! This may be due to the terribly unpredictable weather we have! When you do go to street food markets, often there are run by chain businesses selling bog standard pickles, bread, chutneys, cheese, olives, burgers, pies etc. Occasionally there are food market festivals where independents will showcase deliciously different foods from around the world, but this does not happen often enough. I’ve been informed that the street food scene in London is much more exciting but, even for me, a 4 hour round train journey for a spot of lunch is a little extreme!
I learned the joys of takoyaki from a Japanese friend who invited me for dinner and introduced me to the exciting world of Japanese street food. What I loved about the meal was that the cooking took place at the dinner table, you eat as you cook and everyone gets involved.
The cooking experience was surprising in itself as we used an electric ‘cake pops’ baker to cook the octopus balls in! It’s an ideal piece of kitchen equipment to use if you have one and want to try your hand at making takoyaki at home. I’ve done it myself a couple of times for dinner parties with friends. It is something different for friends to try as many people have not heard of takoyaki before, and the fillings can be easily adapted to suit the tastes of individuals.
I’ve now acquired a stove top iron takoyaki pan from a trip to Hong Kong and this is the first time I’m testing it out. It’s a much faster way to cook the takoyaki but takes the fun element out of the communal cooking at the dinner table since it’s all precooked in the kitchen. I guess one way round this is to get the camping stove out! However if all else fails I still have the electric cakes pops baker…
‘Tako’ means octopus in Japanese. I didn’t have any octopus this time so I used cubes of cheddar cheese and roasted chicken instead. The batter is similar to a pancake one but flavoured with ‘dashi’, a fish stock, so results in savoury stuffed spheres with a gooey centre. You can make the batter yourself quite simply but your local Asian supermarket will also sell specially prepared packages of the batter mix. The finished takoyaki are topped with Japanese mayonnaise, takoyaki sauce, dried ‘bonito’ fish flakes, and dried seaweed powder. It results in a snack that is pleasing to the eye, tasty, and filling!
- Takoyaki Recipe たこ焼き (justonecookbook.com)
- My City Cuisine: Takoyaki (haaaaaaao.wordpress.com)
- Eat on the Street in Tokyo – Japanese Street Food (roomertravel.com)
- A Ball of Goodness in a Little Piece of Japan…Locally. (darkcoffeethoughts.wordpress.com)