Takoyaki is a Japaneese octopus dumpling. A while ago, Mike saw Anthony Bordain sample takoyaki in Osaka on the Food Network. He asked Yoriko about it when she arrived in August, and she told us that it requires a special kind of cooking dish. She remembered his interest in it and had her parents purchase the dish and Sambi bring it when she visited. Then they surprised him with a takoyaki feast as a Christmas present.
Since that time we have used the dish several times, including experimenting with it as a pancake ball maker, filling the inside with chocolate and rice krispies and dipping it in maple syrup.
Here's what real takoyaki is like... The cooking dish is like an electric grill that has small half-circle cups in it. Ours has a raised octopus image in the bottom of the cup that looks like a minature ghost. The batter gets poured into the cups until they are full. Each ball gets a peice of boiled octopus in it, and is then sprinkled with green onion and crushed nori (dried seaweed). Using a stick, the balls get turned over so the flat side then becomes round too. Once complete, the balls are put on a platter, topped with okonimiyaki sauce (which tastes like a mild barbeque sauce) and bonito flakes (dried, shaved fish). Mayonnaise is the dipping sauce.
It looks so amazing and unusual when served. It's a whole bunch of perfect balls with the bonito flakes curling and waving because of the rising heat. Yoriko and Sambi weren't as impressed as we were with moving flakes, maybe it's commonplace. Do we have anything like this (a food that moves) in the US?
We learned that in Japan, you can't get this in a restaurant, that it is something only sold from kiosks, most commonly in Osaka. This food is something that families and friends make together. Everyone gets involved in the turning of the balls, and each batch could be slightly different, some with cheese, or whatever else appeals to the group.
Thank you to Kenichi, Ituyo, Yorkio and Sambi Uchida for the gift and the experince. We felt like we were part of your family when we experienced takoyaki!