Alongside of okonomiyaki, takoyaki is one of the great snack food in Japan. Both okonomiyaki and takoyaki are mainly made of flour, and particularly popular in Western Japan.
For me, who grew up in Eastern Japan, takoyaki reminds me of street vender food at a fair. It was a special treat to buy those things at a fair and share with friends.
Takoyaki means octopus grill literally, when translated to English. As you can guess, boiled octopus chunks are inside of the balls. Other than octopus, chopped scallions, agedama, pickled red ginger are also often inside. In the United States, where obtaining octopus is not easy, you can omit octopus. Instead, put cheese, boiled sliced squid, cooked ground beef, and so on.
Compare to rather dense okonomiyaki, takoyaki is softer and lighter. In order to achieve the fluffy and puffy texture, the batter is intentionally thin. It may take several tries to make successful round takoyaki balls, as you need to flip the them using a pick or a bamboo stick.
As to the equipment, you must have a takoyaki pan to make takoyaki. It is very similar to a pan to make ebleskiver, Danish round pancake puffs. Both of them are almost identical, so that if you have either one, you can use for the other purpose. If you are buying one, make sure to buy one with deeper half round dent, so that it’s easier to make spherical shape balls.
Either buying an electric type or an over the stove type is a personal preference. I prefer to wash the pan using detergent under running water, so that I tend to buy a simple over the stove type. But some electrical takoyaki maker’s pan can be detached from electrical parts to clean.
This recipe is adapted from Japanese about.com site.