Takoyaki - Grilled Savory Pancake Bites With Tako (Octopus)

Takoyaki (Grilled Octopus Ball with Sauce, Bonito Flake, Seaweed)
Takoyaki (Japanese Octopus Pancake Bites). Joseph Lerma/EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images
  • 23 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins,
  • Cook: 8 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings
Ratings (5)

Takoyaki is a popular Japanese snack food, or street food. It is made with a savory pancake batter, similar to its cousin okonomiyaki (savory pancake with vegetables and, or meat) but shaped into round balls and filled with cooked octopus. While the idea of octopus in a pancake may sound unappealing at first, you'll be surprised at how savory, delicious, and addictive this favorite Japanese snack is! In fact, takoyaki, which is originally perceived as a snack, can be a meal in itself. Restaurants and takoyaki stands tend to sell takoyaki in packs of eight (8) pieces or twelve (12) pieces, which can be quite filling.

The term takoyaki is "tako", meaning octopus, and "yaki", which means grilled. In some translations, takoyaki is referred to as grilled octopus bites. Takoyaki has a very thin, and almost crip grilled exterior with a very soft, almost liquid center, with a tender or slightly chewy bite of cooked octopus.

The batter is often seasoned with sliced green onion and red ginger (benishoga). The toppings are traditionally a sweet and savory okonomiyaki or takoyaki sauce, along with dried shaved bonito flakes (katsuobushi) and green dried seaweed powder (aonori). Creative optional toppings include mayonnaise, cheese, scrambled egg, alternative sauces such as teriyaki sauce or tempura sauce, and chopped green onions.

What You'll Need

  • 1 2/3 cups flour (all-purpose)
  • 2 1/2 cups dashi broth
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 pound octopus (boiled cut into bite-sized pieces)
  • 1/4 cup green onion (finely chopped)
  • Optional: 1/4 cup Benishoga (pickled red ginger finely chopped)
  • Optional: 1/4 cup  Sakura ebi (small red shrimp)
  • 1-2 tablespoons Canola oil (or other vegetable oil for coating the takoyaki pan)
  • For Traditional Toppings:
  • Optional: Katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
  • Optional: Aonori (green seaweed powder)
  • Optional: prepared okonomiyaki sauce (may be substituted with Worchestershire sauce, takoyaki sauce, or tonkatsu sauce)
  • Optional: Japanese Kewpie brand mayonnaise, or another brand of Western mayonnaise
  • For Non-Traditional Toppings:
  • Optional: mozzarella cheese, (shredded)
  • Optional: American cheese, (shredded)
  • Optional: egg, (scrambled)
  • Optional: Teriyaki sauce
  • Optional: Tempura sauce
  • Optional: green onions (chopped)
  • Optional: Kizaminori or dried seaweed (thinly sliced)

How to Make It

  1. Make sure you've pre-cooked the octopus and cut it into bite-sized pieces.
  2. In a large bowl, make the takoyaki batter by combining flour, dashi broth, and eggs. Mix until well incorporated. Note, the thickness of the batter should be similar to a cream soup and is on the thinner side.
  3. Preheat a takoyaki pan and coat each of the round molds in the pan with canola oil.
  4. Pour batter into the molds so that it is about 3/4 full
  1. Put octopus, red ginger, green onion, and dried red shrimp in each mold.
  2. Grill takoyaki balls, allowing it to cook about 3 to 4 minutes before flipping the ball over using a takoyaki pick. Grill the other side of the takoyaki another 3 minutes until golden brown.
  3. When browned, remove takoyaki from the pan and place on a plate.
  4. Garnish the takoyaki with okonomiyaki sauce (or substitute sauce). Then add mayonnaise, and sprinkle with dried bonito flakes and green aonori seaweed. Serve immediately.​

For different flavors, try garnishing the takoyaki with the following combinations:

- scrambled egg garnished with teriyaki sauce
- chopped green onions and kizaminori (thinly sliced dried seaweed)
- tempura sauce 
- shredded mozzarella cheese (melted)
- American cheese slices (melted)

Special Equipment:

  • Takoyaki cast iron pan (to use on the range of a stove), or an electric takoyaki pan
  • Takoyaki pick
  • Brush for coating takoyaki pan with oil (optional)

Article Updated by Judy Ung.