What the heck is a “tako-pa”? When I was living in Japan a lifetime ago, one thing I noticed was that they love to abbreviate, twist and abuse the Japanese language until it sounded like a secret code—and if you weren’t up on the trend, well…too bad for you. “Tako-pa” is short for Takoyaki Party, where friends can gather and cook those luscious, tongue-burning little octopus-filled dough balls. It is the quintessential street food from Osaka, and you can make them yourself at home if you have a takoyaki hot plate. Zojirushi makes one that you can get separately for your Gourmet Sizzler® Electric Griddle. And they have a pretty good video that helped me a lot.
What you do next is the part that requires a little practice. All you do is use a skewer or metal pick to turn the dough over as it cooks. If you’ve oiled the pan properly, it easily releases and turns over in its hole, allowing you to cook the other side. You can literally “tuck in” the extra batter into the dough ball as you roll it over, making a nice round ball as it cooks. Holy Moly, this is amazing!
I found it better to push down the opposite side of the ball with the pick and roll it over that way, instead of trying to pick it up from the side close to me. Came out OK, right? Maybe other than the lame one in the upper corner.
Pepperoni Pizza Balls
One great thing about this takoyaki pan is that you can make other ball-shaped treats using this same method; just change the type of dough you use, depending on what it is. I tried stuffed Pizza Balls next, with these simple ingredients and a pizza dough batter.
Surprisingly, the cheese didn’t stick, thanks to the nonstick surface and the addition of the oil. I kept the same high heat as the takoyaki, but lowering it a bit may have helped me turn it over better by giving me more time. I just need more practice, I think.
Hazelnut Cocoa Pancake Balls
For dessert I tried these chocolatey treats using Japanese pancake batter. I was careful this time not to overfill, figuring this one would expand. My mistake on this one was not lowering the temperature to account for the faster cooking time. I would suggest no more than 300°F so you have time to turn it.
I think with a little practice I’ll get better at using this takoyaki pan. It’s definitely fun to watch the little balls form, so that’s a different experience. Of these three, the best one was the takoyaki itself, which I guess means the traditional one is always best!
Just For Fun
Watch the pro do it. But no fair! Notice how the entire plate rocks in a circular motion? That helps keep the dough agitated so it’s easier to flip and roll into little balls!
All photos and videos by ©2021 Bert Tanimoto
Please note that these recipes were not tested by Zojirushi America