Saturday, May 10, 2014

What's Takoyaki? Frozen Takoyaki- H-mart: Cherry Hill, NJ

Frozen Takoyaki- H-mart: Cherry Hill, NJ
Octobus balls! Don't worry, I haven't gone Bear Grylls on all of you. These aren't balls as in testicles (never thought I'd have to type that on a food blog), these are spheres of fried dough filled with cabbage and a little chunk of octopus.

A few years ago my boyfriend went to Japan for a college course on psychology, and while he was there he had some delicious street food. This is one of the items he's been craving since he's returned, so I found a frozen version in H-mart to try and satisfy his craving.

"Tako" in Japan refers to octopus, Hence the "tako" in takoyaki, and although I am not a big fan of octopus, or really anything with tenticles, I was open to giving these little snacks a try. 

Sorry the bag is empty in the photo above. I forgot to photograph it before I cooked the takoyaki.

There were two brands of frozen takoyaki at H-mart, and I ended up picking this one because I preferred the packaging. The characters were bold against the bright red background, so it really caught my eye and the photo was quite appealing. (The other package had a cartoon octopus on it and looked more childish, which can be fun, but I was in a serious foodie kind of mood that day.)

Inside, there were plenty of frozen takoyaki, but no toppings or sauces. I had to buy those separately, so that might be troublesome for some shoppers, but all of the items I needed were available at H-mart, so I wasn't inconvenienced at all.

Baking these was just like heating up any kind of frozen food item. You spread them out on a cookie sheet, I wrap mine in foil for easy clean-up, and bake them at 375 degrees F for 10-15 minutes. (It all depends on how many you are baking at a time.) 
Once they were done I topped mine with a drizzle of takoyaki sauce, which is a thin smoky brown sauce that tastes very similar to BBQ and steak sauces, a bit of japanese mayo, and bonito flakes.

Bonito is something I wasn't too familiar with, so I watched THIS awesome video.  Long story short, they are really super thin smoked fish flakes. It sounds kind of gross, and it looks a bit like fish food, but they are honestly very delicious. It's hard to describe their flavoring, but it's kind of like a smoky-papery-tuna-jerky. (Does that make sense?)

I can see why my boyfriend was craving these little octopus balls. (Ha!) When the toppings and the finished takoyaki are combined, the taste is really addicting. The Japanese mayo is creamy with a hint of sweetness, which pairs nicely with the smoked fish flakes and BBQ-like sauce, and the little ball of fried dough is crisp on the outside and gooey on the inside.

On it's own, the takoyaki batter tastes similar to Chinese Pizza, which isn't really a Chinese dish at all, but the texture is light and fluffy. Where things get a bit weird for me is the octopus. That little purple chunk (seen above) is insanely chewy. We're talking eraser-territory. Admittedly, I would like these a lot more with a different seafood filling, like fish, but then this wouldn't be "takoyaki."

Those of you who enjoy octopus-sushi and calamari, I am sure you'd love this, as for those of you who are like me and not fans of tenticled-food items, it's still quite delicious and worth a try. The octopus piece inside is really small, so I am able to eat it without there being an issue, but I have shared this with my mom who couldn't handle the chewiness. (She spat it out.)

It might not be everyone's cup of tea, but I think everyone should be open to giving it a try.
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1 comment:

  1. I am hooked on these delicious little snacks. I had them around Christmas last year and had been craving them ever since. We have a small Japanese market not too far from me (One World Market in Novi, MI) that has a small sushi bar built in to it. They make the takoyaki fresh sometimes, but on my most recent visit they were out of the prepared meal, so instead my wife bought me a large bag of frozen takoyaki! No instructions on how to prepare it, so we winged it and turns out she was on the money with her heat selection, she put it at 400F for 15 mins. I was actually unaware they were supposed to be gooey on the inside, as the meal the store had out that day seemed more bready, but I may be mistaken. I got hooked on the flavor and the ones we got did not disappoint. Thanks for your review and for confirming our cooking method! Have a good day!