Tokowasa • Raw, hot and tasty

Written by Peter Allen on . Posted in food

Ever had the opportunity of trying the special tako wasabi? I was on vacation in japan a few months ago, and of all the things I miss about the beautiful country, the one thing I miss most is the food. Particularly the one they call takowasa, also known as tako wasabi in English.

Personally, I don’t like raw food. I prefer my food properly cooked. So, when I saw the takowasa for the first time at a local restaurant somewhere in Osaka, I was not interested. The slimy, slippery and chewy texture of the octopus was a big turn off for me. The foodie in me kept pushing me to try it out as I could notice the joy on the faces of people eating it. My friends then dared me to try it out.

I reluctantly gave it a try and behold, it was not as bad as I thought it would be. Surprisingly though, the same slimy texture of the octopus was just the perfect blend for the heat of the wasabi and it went perfectly well with wine. If you are a foodie and truly appreciate good food from different cultures as I do then you would certainly want to give the tasty dish a try.

What is takowasa?

Takowasa or Tako Wasabi as it popularly called in English is derived from the combination of two other words; Tako which means raw octopus and Wasabi (a densely flavored Japanese horseradish). Takowasa, therefore, means a Japanese side dish that comprises of raw chewy octopus with a good amount of wasabi. This dish is also on rare occasions referred to as wasabi octopus.

Takowasa is such an amazing dish i. In terms of appearance, it might not look appealing to the eye, but believe me when I say there is more to it that meets the eye. As a matter of fact, after trying this dish for the first time, I soon began to discover how addictive its taste was.

One interesting fact about this dish is its relatively low-calorie content and it is very nutritious too. More importantly, the protective nature it provides for the liver and stomach against the dangerous effect of ethanol is also something to note.

More so, if you are like me that can’t fathom the idea of consuming raw food, there’s absolutely no cause for alarm as it has been discovered that there are new tako wasabi products that are making use of properly cooked octopus. It is however said that some countries are already serving takowasa in a totally different way. For instance, imagine the addition of seaweed to the Tako Wasa dish, such that you can enjoy the dish like a nacho snack.

Sounds awesome right?

Before I forget to mention, you can also get frozen Tako Wasa products in most Asian supermarkets usually at a very good and fair price.

Takowasa and its origin

According to the history books, it was said that Takowasa originated from a sort of punishment game in a food company called Azuma located somewhere in Japan back in 1991. At the time, staff were given tasks and target to meet up that would help the company grow, but however, it was soon discovered that some of the workers were not living up to expectation and targets were not being met.

Therefore, to serve as punishment for those lazy workers, they were forced to eat a Japanese raw octopus dish that comprises of octopus in combination with red hot wasabi. Initially, the workers did feel like they were being punished. After consuming the dish at least once or twice, they began to notice how tasty this dish was and eventually no longer felt hard done by this punishment.

As time went on their employee began to notice the joy on their faces when it was time for the so-called punishment dish. One faithful day they too decided to have a taste of this “punishment dish” and when they did, they could not believe how delicious and pleasant this dish was.

Around 1991, the company started commercial production for this dish, which later became very popular amongst the Japanese people, and was usually found in almost all izakayas around the country.

The prefect takowasa recipe

If you ever have the opportunity to prepare tokowasa at any point in your life, you will find it worthwhile, because it is a unique and uncommon delicacy. However, the Japanese octopus recipe I will be showing today is quite a brief and easy one. To prepare you will need the following takowasa ingredients:

  • 6 pounds of Tako (octopus)
  • 2 tbs of salt
  • Fresh wasabi paste
  • Soy sauce
  • Mirin
  • Sugar
  • Sake and plum

Directions

  1. The first step is to thoroughly clean the surface of the octopus with salt, ensure you rub all parts of the octopus with salt using your hands. When done, wash off any form of slime under running water.
  2. Next, with a very sharp knife, carefully cut the octopus into little pieces probably about 2cm in length and 1cm in width.
  3. Since the octopus is usually eaten raw, you just have to mix in a large bowl the octopus with freshly prepared wasabi paste. For extra flavoring, add the other ingredients like the sake, soy sauce, mirin, a little bit of salt and sugar, plum.
  4. And there you go; you have made yourself one healthy bowl of takowasa. You can eat directly after the mixing or you can simply store in the fridge for a couple of hours before consumption.

Note: if you are preparing the wasabi yourself simply follow the steps below

  1. First off, select a wasabi rhizome with very strong, unwrinkled and fresh root with crisp-looking leaves too. Although they may not be readily available in your local store, as they are mostly found in Japan and grown in some areas of Canada and probably northwestern United States. You can however try your local Asian store as luck might just be on your side.
  2. Next step, carefully remove the leaves from the end of rhizome with a knife and set them aside as you can use them for a nice flavorful addition to salads.
  3. Wash the body of the rhizome and trim off any form of marks or bumps. Once this is done, let it dry after which you simply use a fine grater to shave off a sizable amount of the wasabi depending on the amount you want.
  4. Press the grated wasabi into a ball with your hand and let it settle for at least 10-15 minutes before usage as this will enhance its flavorful taste. Serve in a plate or in addition to the tako and enjoy with a bottle of good wine.

Conclusion

Takowasa is truly an amazing and special dish, it is something you should try out when you have the chance. As some of my Japanese friends will say, “you can’t claim to be a true Japanese until you’ve successfully made and eaten takowasa”. So, make do with the information provided herein this article and enjoy takowasa at its finest.

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Peter Allen

Peter Allen

Peter's path through the culinary world has taken a number of unexpected turns. After starting out as a waiter at the age of 16, he was inspired to go to culinary school and learn the tricks of the trade. As he delved deeper, however, his career took a sudden turn when a family friend needed someone to help manage his business. Peter now scratches his culinary itch on the internet by blogging, sharing recipes, and socializing with food enthusiasts worldwide.

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