It is pancake season for sure out here in the great NorthWet. Over my son's winter break we tried for 14 - only made 11. Stupid Norovirus.
But an interesting detour along the way. The Aebleskiver. The pan.
|Get the real cast-iron version.|
Then it doubles as home-protection...
and heats and creates the crispy shell better.
Drop a bit-o-butter in each cup, fill the cups most of the way up, maybe add a filling (chocolate chips are always good), wait for a crust to form on the bottom, and the, use toothpicks or skewers to roll the ball over. And wait for the crust to form all golden brown on the other side. Add toppings (powdered sugar - always good).
Then a trip to Uwajimaya and the Fresh Takoyaki stand! (if you search "takoyaki" on the Uwajimaya page it'll give you the dates.)
Takoyaki caught my eye when I saw them being tediously turned over with two little skewers. At home I usually use tooth picks, but the actions looked so much the same I couldn't help but make the comparison.
|The wells are smaller, there's more of them, and|
the batter gets spread around quite a bit more.
|And the list of fillings is impressive:|
Along with the boiled, cubed octopus, there is
dried shrimp and, red pickled ginger (the savory type, not sweet)
and the scallions.
Or if you're feeling Hawaiian - they have Spam.
(What is Takoyaki? An octopus aebleskiver of course. OK, not quite, but it is a little ball of pan-fried goodness - savory rather than sweet. And much like the aebleskiver best enjoyed hot off the pan.)
I had had takoyaki in a restaurant once before. Not as good. They had cooled a bit, the toppings had soaked in, and the crunch on the outside had dimmed. The secret is getting this at a stand or food cart - so they finish frying, pop on the extremely decorative toppings (Japanese mayonnaise, Takoyaki sauce or other dark sweet sauce, bonito flakes -officially, "katsuobushi"- AND nori flakes), and hand it over piping hot.
And then you eat it!
Now - here's where the debate comes in... can one make takoyaki in an aebleskiver pan - or is the aebleskiver cup just too big?
I'll agree that too much of the chewy soft dough might be a problem, but there they were, alongside the single purpose electric, table top grills for takoyaki, aebleskiver pans packaged as Takoyaki pans.
So they may not be AS good, but I bet takoyaki follows the rue of all other foods you can make yourself, but are kind of a pain.
1. BEST: Made by experts with all the exact right equipment and lots of practice.
2. Pretty Darn Good: Bumble through a few attempts and then get pretty good!
3. Whoops! Try the frozen/packaged/pre-made version, and then realize you were doing pretty well, and it is worth the trouble. Go back to trying it yourself when you really have a hankerin' and the experts aren't selling.
Extra Bonus - My aebleskiver pan is no longer a uni-tasker Alton Brown!
I'm not counting home defense. That's just too silly.
P.S. Takoyaki are an outgrowth of okonomiyaki - a flat Japanese pancake... so see, the pancake challenge is bubbling under the surface.