My latest Post.

This view,this beauty
A tear unbidden
Creeps into my eye.

My stay is short
But I shall return to this place
If only my life is long enough.

Such beauty
Gazing upon it
I hope my years are many.

Bokusui Wakayama.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Takoyaki Party.

14th November 2004.
   Takoyaki: A ball-shaped Japanese snack with copious amounts of takoyaki sauce, mayonnaise, green laver (aonori) and shavings of dried katsuobushi brushed & sprinkled over top. All washed down with copious amounts of alcohol.
  Takoyaki Party: Where a group of people - family, friends or whatever - gather at a designated place and make takoyaki, drink alcohol and have a really great time (as in above image).
   Takoyaki reminds me of the great Kiwi takeaway
of Fish-n-Chips. Whereas takoyaki is smothered with sauce & mayonnaise, we smother our fish-n-chips with lashings of tomato sauce. And, to add to the possibility of heart disease, we sometimes devour the meal in what is known as a chip-butty
   Like the Japanese equivalent, both are best washed-down with a good cold beer, or two. Whether these meals could be regarded as a delicacy, I will leave that up to you to decide. For me. There is only one word to describe a feed of this caliber - oishii.

   Originating in Osaka back in 1935, takoyaki soon became popular in the Kansai Region and later spread (no pun intended) to the Kanto Region and other areas of Japan. Facilities selling takoyaki can be found everywhere and they come in many shapes-and-sizes - specialist restaurants, small street vendors, private homes ( where the garage has been converted), and, like in the image above, at fairs and other public events. 

   So, where did my love of this delicacy originate from? To answer that I need to go back to the second week of November, 2004. I was standing outside this shop (in the image on the left), at the Keihan Hirakata Station, when I became intrigued by the actions of the staff behind the counter. The man, with a spike in his hand, was busy turning little balls (about the size of a table-tennis ball), on a hotplate, at an incredible pace. Then, when they were cooked, he would flick them into a tray and pass the tray onto the next assistant who would then take a paint-brush and spread brown sauce over them and sprinkle some ingredient over that. Later that evening, during dinner with my family, I recalled to them what I saw earlier and, all in unison, said "aah Takoyaki". Somewhere in their explanation the term "Takoyaki Party" was mentioned and, on the 14th November 2004, I was to experience my first takoyaki party. God-knows how many we devoured, or how much alcohol we consumed, but this was to become the best social occasion in my life. But it didn't finish there. After our mess was cleaned-up, we all hopped-into a car and headed-off to the nearest karaoke parlour  for 4-hours of singing & drinking and fun. I must have been so drunk because the first song I sung was Queens Bohemian Rhapsody.

   Now lets come forward to Sunday 17th March 2013, and the opportunity for my wife and I to host a takoyaki party for our family. But, before I show you the video of the occasion, I shall explain what equipment and ingredients are required.
First up is the special takoyaki pan. These come in many shapes and sizes, depending on how many will be attending your party. This particular pan (in the image on the left) is a combination pan that can be used to cook OkonomiyakiTeppanyaki and many other recipes.
   For the ingredients you commence with finely-chopped cabbage (much finer than for a coleslaw). For today's party we used half a cabbage which took me the best part of 30-minutes to chop.
  Next Tako, or Octopus, which is diced into small pieces so as not to take up too much space in the dumpling.
   On the tray, in the image on the right, is finely diced Red Ginger, sliced Spring Onion and Tenkasu ( I remember at my first party asking why we were adding Rice Bubbles to the mixture.)

   The three ingredients, in the above image, when mixed, become the all important Batter, in the image on the right. Unlike most batters, that are fairly condensed, this is very thin, like soup. And, as you will witness in the video, it is poured abundantly over the pan. 
And then, to top-it-all-off (no pun intended), the toppings. Firstly a healthy squirting of Mayonnaise, followed by an equally large dose of special Takoyaki Sauce, followed by a generous sprinkling of Katsuobushi ( not to be confused with wood-shavings) and Aonori

   Oops. I almost forgot to mention the tools needed. Apart from the knife, to prepare & chop some of the ingredients, and a whisk, to make the batter, you will need a metal spike, to turn and serve the dumplings, but we use long wooden toothpicks instead. Also a special brush to oil the pan before each serving.
   Now this is what your table should look like, as you begin your takoyaki party. All that is missing is the liquid refreshments. But, don't despair, they are only a meter-or-so-away.
   So now sit back and watch this video of the "Barcock Takoyaki Party".

                                                          Bon Appetit.


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