Takoyaki (grilled octopus) is one of Japan’s most beloved festival and street foods. The round, doughy (or crunchy, depending on the style) balls are filled with sliced octopus, pickled ginger and green onion and drizzled with delicious and tangy takoyaki sauce and (usually) Japanese mayonnaise.
It’s also a fun dish to make a home with a takoyaki maker. But, unfortunately, to the horror of minimalists in tiny Japanese apartments, takoyaki makers are single-use.
In Japan, where most kitchens are already tight on space, this can be annoying for home cooks. After all, why buy a takoyaki maker if you only dust it off once a year? Luckily, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Let’s look at a few unique ways to get the most out of your takoyaki maker.
1 Put a twist on traditional takoyaki
Traditional takoyaki is savory pancake-y balls are usually topped with dried bonito flakes takoyaki sauce, mayo and aonori (seaweed flakes). But why stick to traditional flavors when you can make takoyaki with different fillings and toppings to make unique and tasty snacks?
Here are a few flavor combinations to inspire your next batch of takoyaki:
- Taco-yaki: Make a regular takoyaki batter, but substitute the dashi (soup stock) with beef or chicken stock. Add cooked, taco-seasoned ground beef or pork, cheese, and chopped onion to the middle. Cook as usual, and top with sour cream, salsa, or hot sauce for a taco-inspired version.
- Pizza-yaki: Make a regular takoyaki batter, but substitute the dashi with chicken or veggie stock. Fill with diced pre-cooked sausage (pepperoni, Italian or otherwise), dried oregano and cheese. Top with marinara sauce, pesto, dried oregano, more cheese, or hot sauce for the full pizza experience.
- Ham and Cheese-yaki: Make regular takoyaki batter, but substitute the dashi with chicken or veggie stock. Fill with diced or sliced pre-cooked ham and a cheese of your choice. Top with more cheese and a pesto or hot sauce drizzle.
2. Danish apple treats
If you want a sweeter route, try making some Æbleskivers! These are a Danish treat that are, in essence, a sugary breakfast alternative to takoyaki. While the batter and fillings differ, the cooking method is remarkably similar to takoyaki. Though you can get pans specifically for Aebleskivers, you can also use a takoyaki pan to achieve the same effect.
Æbleskiver translates roughly to “apple slices,” which you should fill your little pancake balls with for a traditional version of this dish. Of course, you can choose different fillings—berries, chocolate chips, or caramel drizzles are all great options. Simply find one of the many recipes online, mix the batter according to instructions, and cook like you would takoyaki. When done, top with syrup, jams, Nutella or powdered sugar.
3. At-home bubble waffle bites
If you’re looking for more of a challenge, try bubble waffles. Bubble waffles took off in Hong Kong around the 1950s and are known today as a specialty. This egg-based waffle is sweet, chewy, and distinctly cooked to look like a sheet of bubbles, hence the name “bubble waffles.” While you usually need the proper iron to make this dish, consider making a modified waffle with your takoyaki maker.
Make an egg waffle batter and prepare your takoyaki pan by heating and oiling the wells. When it’s ready, pour your batter in and cook it like you would takoyaki, turning and balling as it cooks to help get that round shape. Serve up with butter and syrup for a fun and tasty treat!
You can make only so many pancake-like options, but why let that limit you? If you’re a meatball fan, you know that mixing up your seasoned meat and meticulously hand-rolling each ball to the right size can be a real labor of love. And that’s not to mention the frying that must be done to create a nice sear on the meatball before you let it cook through.
Avoid all that trouble by letting the takoyaki maker help you out. Simply mix up your meatball mixture, and use the takoyaki maker for frying up little meatball pucks, perfect for tossing with pasta or throwing in sandwiches.
If you just spoon your mixture, you get awesome little half-circles that make easy, bite-sized meatballs. Or, you can roll your meatballs and take advantage of the shape of the pan to get them fully and evenly cooked and browned on the outside. Best of all, unlike cooking your meatballs in a regular frying pan, you can cook off your meatballs in bigger batches thanks to the space afforded to you with the takoyaki maker.
5. Breakfast prep egg bites
Last but not least, use your takoyaki maker as a tool to meal-prep breakfast egg bites. Egg bites are a popular way to get your protein in with your morning meal, and cooking them in advance makes it a snap to pull together a healthy start to your day.
Make your favorite scrambled egg recipe, turn on the pan and oil the wells. Fill each one to the top with egg, and then throw in your favorite egg add-ins—chopped cooked ham, green onion, cheese, chopped vegetables, or herbs. The sky’s the limit! Cook through, allow to cool, and store in the fridge to enjoy throughout the week.
What do you think? Let us know in a comment below which one you will use next time you pull out your takoyaki maker or any other tips you have to get the most out of your pan!