Quintessential Japanese street food, takoyaki translates into ‘grilled octopus’. What this slight title fails to show is that takoyaki is so much more. Yes, there is octopus, but also shallots, ginger and crispy tempura, all stuffed into little balls of dashi batter. Soft and flavour filled in the middle with a crispy, crunchy and golden outside. It gets even better, with toppings of takoyaki sauce, kewpie mayo, bonito, seaweed, plus any of the filling extras like tenkasu, shallots and pickled ginger. No guesses as to why this little dish is so celebrated. 


For the takoyaki

  • 300g plain flour

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • 3 eggs, lightly whisked

  • 10ml tamari

  • 800ml dashi (made with instant dashi powder)

  • 40-60ml vegetable oil

  • 250g cooked octopus, chopped into 1cm pieces

  • 2 tablespoons bonito flakes

  • 5 shallots, finely sliced

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped pickled ginger

  • 1 cup tenkasu  

To serve (any or all)

  • Takoyaki sauce

  • Pickled ginger

  • Kewpie mayo

  • Seaweed powder

  • Crushed chips

  • Chilli flakes

  • Radish, thinly sliced, pickled or fresh

  • Herbs

  • Toasted sesame seeds


1. To make the batter

Make the batter as you would pancakes. Add the flour, baking powder and salt to a bowl. Make a well in the centre, pour in the eggs and tamari, then whisk, gradually bringing the flour into the centre. As the mixture thickens, add the dashi slowly and keep whisking until you have a smooth batter. If the batter is too thick add a little more dashi stock.

2. To cook the takoyaki

Cooking the takoyaki feels a little chaotic but persevere and all will be well.

Heat the takoyaki pan over a medium heat, coat the whole pan and all the hollows generously with oil, letting a little pool in the base. When smoking hot, fill the hollows with batter. Don’t worry if it spills over a little, you’ve just arrived at the next step early. Drop a couple of pieces of octopus into each cavity, sprinkle over some ground bonito flakes, shallots, the pickled ginger and a handful of tenkasu.

After a few minutes break apart any batter that has joined between the balls. Using skewers, loosen the balls, rotating the forming balls a quarter turn, stuffing the overflow batter back into the cavity. This will cause a repeat of the uncooked batter overflow. Cook for another few minutes and repeat the process. They should now have achieved their classic ball shape. Cook another 3-4 minutes rolling the balls around for even colour.

3. To serve

Serve with a zig zag of takoyaki sauce and kewpie mayo, and a scatter of whatever takes your fancy from the list.

Chef's notes

  • A takoyaki pan is essential. They are easy to find online or at Asian supermarkets and hospitality suppliers.
  • If octopus isn’t your jam, feel free to sub in/add prawns, squid, chicken, cheese or tofu.
  • Make the batter in advance and let sit, this will help achieve max crispiness.
  • Be generous with the oil. Again, this helps with the crispiness and makes them easy to move in the pan.
  • Don’t be shy with the batter. The masters of takoyaki generally overfill their pans, stuffing the excess batter from around the edges into the ball as they turn it, thus helping to create a ball.
  • Takoyaki pans notoriously have uneven heat. Once you’ve created your ball and it is holding its shape, move it around for a perfectly crisp golden outside.

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