Sunday, November 24, 2013

Takoyaki

Moving is tricky. 

First I lived in Pittsburgh for 18 years. My parents (both) and grandparents (all 4) were born and raised in the area and Mom and Pops still reside there. My remaining Grandma, Sally, moved to Indiana in her 80's and lives there still, at 95 years young! 

Somehow, I was bound and determined to leave at 18. Sure, college just 3 hours away (and still within the home state) isn't a HUGE deal. People do it all the time and come right back 4, or 5, years later. Not I - after my four years were up I moved to Hawaii! Crazy - yes. Far away - you bet. Awesome - of course.

Hold the phone here Ang, this is a blog about food. That it is, my friends! 

Food in Pennsylvania was all I knew for a very long time. Dad's cooking and Mom's baking. Pierogies, cannoli, sticky buns, and arguments over 'gob' vs 'whoopie pie'. French fries on sandwiches and salads and topped with gravy. Farmers markets put on by the Amish where things are home grown or freshly baked. Chinese food with fortune cookies and 'sushi' from plastic containers in Panda Express kiosks.

Moving to Hawaii was a real eye opener as far as cuisine goes, naturally. Sure there are plenty of coconuts and pineapples, but the real game changers for me were all of the Asian foods. First I developed a love for pho and Vietnamese food, later it was Chinese dim sum that I couldn't get enough of (no fortune cookies to be seen), and eventually I grew to love takoyaki from the giant Japanese department store. Once I knew we'd be leaving Hawaii I started to better photograph my favorites and I'm hoping to catch up on their corresponding stories now that we're off island. 

Takoyaki are savory little doughy dumplings made with pieces of octopus inside. They're topped with tons of sauce, lovely Japanese mayo, and dried fish flakes that wiggle from the heat of the fresh-from-the-cooktop takoyaki.

Here you can see how they begin, with the batter poured on the cooktop at the bottom of the photo. After being solidified and pushed together into individual portions over the little wells, they're flipped over using the special tool and become a complete ball of goodness as seen in the top of the photo.


Imagine me while taking these snapshots - the sole-white-lady taking photos of the Japanese food! That's a stark contrast to the standard Japanese tourists taking selfies with forks and knives in Waikiki restaurants. Do I get a prize?


Clearly the description of takoyaki and the cooking process are my own, creative words. Check out this video that they play at my Honolulu takoyaki spot.

video

Of course you can buy your own takoyaki making accessories on Amazon.

Now this was the only place I'd ever had takoyaki and this was always the presentation: piping hot balls of goodness doused/swimming in sauces, topped with goodies, inside a paper vessel, inside a plastic clamshell.




It's no joke how hot they are, one must wait at least 10 minutes before indulging. That gives you plenty of time to take photos and watch the magic of squirming fish flakes! I've enjoyed a ritual of sneaking takoyaki more in the past year than ever, most times alone during an impromptu trip to the mall! 


Now we're getting acclimated to our new home of Seattle. We know we can expect lots of new things and foods, although we're unsure of what will we find.

It is with great pleasure that I can report that takoyaki is alive and well here in Seattle. Although it seems big and scary, the Disneyland ride is correct, it's a small world after all. Today we met up with an old friend of mine who also lives in the area. Michelle and I met when we were 14, just before our freshman year of high school! Her birthday was last week and she chose the restaurant for today's lunch - Japonessa in downtown Seattle. Is was there where we enjoyed takoyaki.


It was food for my soul! The taste,  texture, and extreme temperature were right on. The presentation was 100% better and the fish flakes were smaller and more magical!

Which Pittsburgh/East Coast offerings have made it to Seattle? Which of my "new" favorite foods, discovered in Hawaii are here? I'll keep you updated, surely.

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