When Andy Huang opened Taisho Bistro (3332 Sheridan Drive, Amherst), one of the blue-collar Japanese treats he brought to town was takoyaki.
Colloquially known as octopus balls because of their spherical shape, octopus fritters might be a more precise translation. In Japan, “it’s a very popular street dish that people can buy at a market, from a cart or stand,” said chef-owner Huang.
The dish starts with batter poured into a hot, oiled pan covered with hemispherical impressions. The takoyaki maker adds ingredients like diced blanched octopus, scallions and ginger, then starts turning the fritters as they cook. “We just keep rotating it, turning it, until it becomes a sort of golf ball,” Huang said. “If you don’t keep turning it, one side will be burnt and it won’t be round, more like a bowl shape.”
Deftly rotated with a thin probe resembling a fondue stick, takoyaki done right turn into golden brown spheres that are firm on the outside, with oozing interiors. Taisho Bistro serves six to an order for $5.
The fritters are topped with two sauces. One is Japanese mayonnaise, like Kewpie, and the other is a thick, sweet, barbecuelike sauce. They’re also sprinkled with seaweed powder and covered in flakes of bonito, a dried tuna.
The fritters usually come to the table piping hot – so much so that the rising heat makes the tissue-paper-thin bonito flakes flutter.
“They move, so customers think they’re alive, or something,” Huang said. “We always mention to customers that before you bite into it, wait a little bit, because the insides are really, really hot.”
For more information, visit www.taishobistro.com or call 835-8088.
Serbian Holiday Bake Sale.
Buy ethnic cookies by the pound from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday in St. Stephen Serbian Orthodox Church (177 Weber Road, Lackawanna). Cookies include nut and pineapple kifle, wedding cakes and raspberry and apricot thumbprints. There also will be maple, chocolate and cherry pecan torta rolls and other cakes. For more information, call 823-2846.