In Oasaka Japan, one of the most popular dish they have is known as Takoyaki. It is a round batter ball filled with tiny octopus pieces. When cooked right, it will have a crispy exterior with a soft and gooey interior. However, to achieve these results, you need the right tool. The Best Takoayki Pan should be durable with a nonstick coating. Generally cast iron are the preferred choice, but newer models are coming onto the market.
What is a Takoyaki Pan?
A Takoyaki Pan is a pan with dimples around the top. While the size of the dimples can vary, generally they should be around one to two inch in diameter. The area surrounding the dimple should be flat for overflow of batter. When cooked, you can pick and fill the balls with it.
These type of pans can be used to make other ball shaped desert such as Aebskevier or paddu or Banh Khot. However, their size will vary.
In Japan, the street vendors use cast iron for their pan. Its the most durable and they develop a nonstick coating overtime. While it does take a while to get hot, once it does, it stays hot. Perfect for a full day of service. It does take a bit of skill though, if you are not careful you can easily tear the ball. One thing to note, because takoyaki are relatively unknown, finding a Japanese cast made iron pan is difficult. What you are left with are the Chinese made one. There is simply not a market for it.
Nonstick pans are easier to use and there even exist automatic electric models. They generally work and the results are good, but cast iron models usually get a better crust. The nonstick coating does not transfer heat as well as metal. Another issue is that the nonstick coating has a wear life. After one or two year of continuous use, you will have to replace it. Nevertheless, they are great for beginner and those who buy it will rarely wear it out.
Electric Models are convienent and you can use it right on the table. However, the major issue with them is that they dont get as hot. This mainly due to the power limit of the gadget. Nevertheless, they do produce acceptable result.
Aside from the pan itself, what you do need is the pick. The pick will lift the ball from the crevices and turn it. Metal picks are great for cast iron pans. However, if you are using a nonstick one, you should find a wooden or plastic pick. The metal one will scratch and damage the nonstick coating.
How to Use a Takoyaki Pan
For the stove top model, what you should do is preheat the pan. They oil each of the dimple with oil. There is usually a brush that lets you coat it. If you have oil spray, you can use that.
Put in the filling first then pour in the batter. Once you see some browning on the bottom, then start flipping it over. Tuck any excess protruding batter inside. Add some extra oil to improve the crispness. Add the sauce, mayo and bonito flake to finish.
Can You Make Takoyaki without the Pan?
No not really. If you want the traditional shape of a takoyaki ball, then you need a Takoyaki Pan. I supposed to you can probably use a muffin tin and make it, but your result will be very different. It will probably also tear. If you want to make Takoyaki, you need a Takoyaki Pan.
Is your Takoyaki Moving?
There are some misconception about the movement of Takoyaki. The top of a Takoyaki is usually garnished with Bonito Flakes. Those are shaved so thin, that the wind will make it flow. When that happens, it looks like its moving. The Octopus should not be moving at all.
Best Takoyaki Pan List
Below you will find a list of some of the Best Takoyaki Pan on the market. There are a few different configuration available. Choose one that best suit you.
Iwatani Takoyaki Grill Pan , Medium, Black (Best Overall)
Iwatani is a Japanese manufacturer of kitchen goods. They make a wide variety of products from grills to butane torch. This model is a nonstick aluminum pan that makes traditional size takoyaki. Unlike some of the stamped pan, this is casted from a mold. Meaning its heavier duty than your typical pan. You can use this straight on your stove or on a portable grill. The raised lip lets you overflow the batter a bit and pick it right in once done. Unfortunately, I could not find a cast iron model of this pan.
Happy Sales , Cast Iron Takoyaki Pan, 8″ L x 7-3/8 D x 1-1/8 H, Black (Best Cast Iron Model)
If you want a cast iron model. This version by Happy Sales is a good alternative. The handle is wooden so it wont get hot and the pan is heavy to hold the heat. You should season it a bit with some oil before use. Just coat it then bake it at 350 degree Fahrenheit. for half an hour. Another thought when using is to heat it up slowly via low heat. Since its cast iron, it will have heat spot.
AUTOMATIC ELECTRIC JAPANESE TAKOYAKI GRILL PAN 12 HOLES 100 V OCTOPUS BALLS (Best Electric Model)
For a fully automatic model, this one is for you. It even turns the balls by itself. Every time it turns, you will hear a nice clink sound. You even get some nice utensils for your takoyaki. One bad thing is that it uses nonstick coating as well. It will eventually wear down and it needs to be replaced. Aslo, its not fully fool proof. In that case, you have to help it a bit with the pick.
There are a lot of option for Takoyaki Pan. While the cast iron are used in restaurant, limited availability and how difficult it is to use will put off some people. The best alternative will be a nonstick pan. Most of these are made of aluminum so it will conduct heat well. You should be able to get a good browning out of it. If you want a fully automatic model, then maybe get a electric one. It will even turn it over for you.
Looking for a similar dimple pan. Then check out the Best Aebleskiver Pan. The diameter of the ball are slightly different.