If there’s one dish that makes me think of the time I spent in Japan, it’s takoyaki, tiny dumplings with a chunk of octopus and a few other things inside. Takoyaki was invented in Osaka, the food capital of Japan, in the 1930s, by a street vendor named Tomekichi Endo.
In the beginning, takoyaki was street food for me, something I’d find at an Osaka matsuri (festival). It soon became my favourite après-ski food, far better than the pizza pops of my youth. And when I lived a few doors down from a takoyaki shop, it became a staple in my life, so much so that when I moved to a different neighbourhood, I bought myself a takoyaki maker and learned how to make the dish myself. I made a slightly westernized version, using homemade chicken broth instead of dashi, and sometimes veered from the traditional octopus, adding cheese instead (inspired by the shop in my old neighbourhood).
Takoyaki is a social dish, best made by a group of friends huddled around a kotatsu. I lugged the cast-iron moulds home with me when I left Japan, hoping I could recreate that experience in Canada, but I soon realized the impracticalities of hooking up a gas canister to the device in a Canadian apartment. Still, I was reluctant to part with the takoyaki maker, and stored it until my decluttering phase in 2015.
It’s become more common here in recent years. In fact, I can now get great takoyaki at nearby Ikoi. But I still miss being able to make it at home whenever I want. All that’s going to change, though, because the other day, my electric takoyaki maker arrived. Now all I have to do is source me some octopus and a few other ingredients, and get going. It’s a pity I no longer have my kotatsu.
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