All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.


Takoyaki / fried octopus dumplings (calamari version)

Served with an aromatic, sweet and salty sauce that blends with the savory and still creamy batter inside, these little dumplings are everyone's favorite. Takoyaki used to be something from neighborhood mom & pop shops, which often had small eat-in areas but largely sold takoyaki as a takeout item. At my local takoyaki shop, a couple of coins were enough to buy a small tray with several takoyaki, which was affordable with my pocket money -- basically change I collected from buying stationery or books -- as a child. Buying a large tray with 12 takoyaki required some help from parents or relatives, and I always dreamed about getting a large tray with 12 takoyaki and eating them all myself. When this dream came true I was so happy, but also uncomfortably full and feeling guilty about not sharing them with my sister.

The recipe below features calamari as a more widely available substitute for octopus.

Whole recipe (about 24 takoyaki balls):
902 calories; 44.8 g protein; 19.0 g fat; 117.2 g carbohydrate; 112.6 g net carbs; 862 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 734 mg cholesterol; 4.6 g fiber

1/2 of recipe (about 12 takoyaki balls):
451 calories; 22.4 g protein; 9.5 g fat; 58.6g carbohydrate; 56.3 g net carbs; 431 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 367 mg cholesterol; 2.3 g fiber

For batter & goodies
For batter
90 g flour (all-purpose)
1 tbsp katakuriko potato starch (or corn starch, tapioca starch or rice flour)
450 cc dashi
20 cc milk
1/4 tsp soy sauce (not in photo)
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
3 cm nagaimo Chinese yam (64 g in photo)

For goodies
1 calamari steak (130 g in photo)
2 green onions
3 g (approx. 1 tsp) benishoga pickled ginger
4 tbsp tenkasu tempura pearls

1-2 tbsp oil (not in photo)

For sauce & topping
1 1/2 tbsp takoyaki sauce
1 tsp dashi
1 tsp rice vinegar
2-3 tbsp katsuobushi bonito flakes
1/2 tsp aonori seaweed


First prepare batter.
Mix dashi, milk and soy sauce.
Mix flour and potato starch well, and add to dashi + milk mixture, a small amount at a time. 


Lightly beat egg and egg yolk, peel and grate in nagaimo Chinese yam, and mix well.
Add egg + nagaimo mixture to flour mixture, and mix well.
Cover, and let sit in fridge for 1+ hours (optional, but recommended).


Meanwhile, prepare goodies.
Chop green onions and benishoga pickled ginger.
Cut calamari into 1-1.5 cm squares.
Keep refrigerated until ready.


Mix takoyaki sauce, dashi and rice vinegar.

Microwave for 10 seconds or so until bubbles form, and let cool.


When ready to cook, heat and oil takoyaki pan well (apply oil in holes and flat surfaces).
Keep the heat level at medium to medium low (with cast iron pan).


Mix batter well, and put in a container with spout if available.
Pour into pan, starting with outer holes and  aiming to fill 60-70% of each hole. 


Quickly put in calamari, green onions, benishoga pickled ginger and tenkasu tempura pearls.
Pour more batter almost to overflowing holes.


With skewer, scrape batter on flat surface and move it to nearby hole.


Starting with balls in the center, flip batter halfway to two-thirds with skewer by moving tip along the bottom of the hole.
Flip again to form a round shape.
If there is a break and it doesn't form a ball, pour some batter into the break, and continue cooking.  


When done (outside is crispy), serve on a plate.
Top with sauce, katsuobushi and aonori

Ready to eat!
(Be careful not to burn your mouth -- the inside is very, very hot.)

  • Potato starch is optional when using cake flour (hakurikiko).
  • If nagaimo is not at hand, 2 eggs instead of 1 egg and 1 egg yolk should help (this will increase the overall sodium content by approximately 70 mg).
  • Milk is added to achieve a slightly rich texture and taste, but it is optional. If not using milk, add more dashi.
  • Soy sauce for the batter helps to reduce the amount of sauce at the end. If overall sodium content is not a concern, you can skip the soy sauce and use more sauce. 
  • Dashi and rice vinegar are added to sauce above to control overall sodium intake. This is optional if sodium content is not an issue.
  • In the photo above, takoyaki is served with toothpicks -- the typical utensil used to eat this snack.
  • If using octopus, about the same weight as flour is sufficient. Cut octopus diagonally to obtain part of a sucker with each piece (some crunch when eaten).
(Last updated: February 4, 2018)


Amy Escobar said...

Should the calamari be steamed first?

neco said...

No, use raw calamari. Thick pieces are ideal.