Takoyaki is one of Japan’s most delicious and iconic street foods – balls of batter filled with octopus pieces. But did you know there are some interesting backstories and facts about these snack treats? Here are 10 things you may not have known about takoyaki:
Takoyaki means “octopus fried”
The name comes from “tako” meaning octopus and “yaki” meaning fried. So takoyaki directly translates to fried octopus balls.
Osaka is the hometown of takoyaki
This popular snack is believed to have originated in Osaka in the late 19th century. It remains a specialty of Osaki to this day.
Ginger gives it that signature flavor
Many recipes call for grated ginger to be mixed into the batter. This adds a subtle yet keynote spicy-sweet flavor.
It was a street food invention
Takoyaki was created by street food vendors as an easy-to-make and portable snack food. They could be grilled and served quickly to hungry customers.
Octopus used to be cheap
In early development, octopus tentacles were an inexpensive ingredient that could stretch the filling. Now it’s become a specialty.
Modern machines make perfect spheres
Old school takoyaki chefs skilled at shaping the balls by hand. Now electric grills form perfect round takoyaki automatically.
Toppings tell you where it’s from
Kansai style uses okonomiyaki sauce and Mayo. Tokyo style favors takoyaki sauce and bonito flakes. Each region has its preferences.
It’s popular year-round but especially in winter
As a hearty, filling snack, takoyaki is enjoyed whenever a craving hits. But winter is prime season as a warming comfort food.
There are takoyaki festivals
Several Japanese cities hold annual festivals celebrating the beloved snack with competitions, activities and of course, lots of grilled takoyaki to eat!
It can make a great souvenir
Frozen or dehydrated takoyaki kits or sauces make unique gifts for friends missing their Japanese fix. Share the takoyaki love!