Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Japanese food is very different from standard North American meat and potatoes.  Still very different from the food we get out on the prairies, even in 'Japanese' restaurants.  My tutor, Kimura Mariko, decided to introduce me to takoyaki.

I've had tako (squid) before.  Never in this form, usually in some Greek dish, and I can't say I particularly enjoyed it.  But hey, when in Rome...

It's on a kotatsu
So Mariko was going to introduce me to Japanese foods.  First she started with Nabe, which I'll do on a later post.  Then takoyaki, which is squid inside balls of dough.  Sounds weird, doesn't taste all that bad, but is weird.  First you take this small electric cooker that looks like it has a bunch of craters.  Then you brush oil into all of the craters to help prevent the dough from sticking.

Pouring the batter into the craters you then end up with this mess of dough everywhere.  You take each piece of squid and place it in the center of each now filled crater.  For  a while the whole process looks like a sunken city with a local squid monster wielding a dozen or so tentacles.  Doesn't it just look great tasting? This is where it gets tricky.  Once the outside of the dough has started to form a solid, you take super long toothpicks and clean up the overflow.  You scrape all of the excess into the craters.  After which, you begin to rotate the semi-solid sphere's for even cooking and to laugh at Gaijin who have difficulty performing this task.

See the tool! Fear it!
Once all the overflow has been sufficiently squashed into the craters your rotate them more.  Over and over and over.  If you are skilled, like Mariko, you do it in one fell swoop.  If you are like Mariko's friends, you do it with skill.  If you're me, you do it slowly, painfully and take care of only one or two crater formed squid balls over the entire time.  Somehow, through the Japanese superior intellect and odd food magic of Japan they turn into spheres.  Which are larger than the original containers and complete spheres even though they only have the container of half a sphere.  It is the same magic that makes the vending machine dispense hot beverages in a can.

The magic spheres containing sunken city ruins and severed pieces of kraken are then removed and placed on a plate. Using the same little frustrating toothpicks they are placed on a plate in a nice orderly fashion.  They are now ready for the grueling training all Japanese food undergo prior to consumption.  An art that every Japanese child is taught as well as they are taught their multiple alphabets, garnishing.

This particular dish uses a sauce. Mariko had store bought, which was really good. But I have no idea what was in it, and I'm kinda scared to google that one and find out. The girls also included the condiment of choice in Japan, mayonnaise. Finally, shrimp flakes are sprinkled over the top.  Doesn't it just look delicious!  It actually is.  So don't be deceived by the magic, logic defying spheres that are the product of a city sunk in craters inhabited by kraken.  And yes, I do now apparently eat squid.  Weird.

The finished product prior consumption.

Here's a video on how to make it. The magic of making spheres there is less logic defying. The site also has many different Japanese foods to be made.

Bon apetite!


  1. that sounds awesome! i totally made takoyaki on my cooking mama game. It was even hard there so i cant imagine in real life! :O

  2. You eating squid!!!! That is crazy! I guess there is a first time for everything. When you get back to Canada you need to make these things for us here. I am sure you will be all practiced up by then.

  3. i'm very glad!
    thank you! XD

    you're a nice gourmet reporter! ;p

  4. Ami- Cooking Mama makes everything much harder, but yeah, the attempting to rotate is easier said than done, and it's not easy to explain :P

    Diane- if I make it for you, then YOU will be eating squid too! I may, if I can find/import a reasonably priced Takoyaki pan.

    Mariko - ありがとう。 真理子は料理を教えることが上手