Garlicky Shrimp Takoyaki Poppers

Corn dogs are a Texas State Fair staple. But this isn’t your typical corn dog.

My children will tell you that my best recipe – in their minds at least – is corn dogs. They are the typical “food-on-a-stick” variety that you can buy at the state fair except with a little flare. Though not exactly a “corn dog”, I wanted something similar but more upscale to serve as an appetizer for a backyard party, and I settled on this Texas version of takoyaki.

Takoyaki is a crispy fried ball-like Japanese appetizer that is usually filled with octopus. In this version they are filled with garlic shrimp that is delicious served on its own. The shrimp is cooked quickly with mojo de ajo – fresh garlic poached in olive oil – and is a regular staple around our house. This can be used to season steaks and seafood and even to sauté vegetables.

Traditionally takoyaki is served with kewpie mayonnaise which is a Japanese mayo made only with yolks and has a custard-like texture. I think it pairs well in this version but we spice it up with some additional hot sauce. This recipe requires a traditional takoyaki pan but you can substitute an aebelskiver pan which is similar except that it is round.

18 large shrimp, cleaned, tails removed, and sautéed in mojo de ajo and then cut in half or about 3/4 inch pieces

16 oz chicken stock

5 oz all-purpose flour

1/2 oz corn starch

1 tbs milk

1 egg, large

1 jalapeño, finely minced

1/2 cup green onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs

Kewpie mayonnaise

Hot Sauce, to taste

Make the batter: combine the chicken stock, flour, corn starch, milk, and egg. You are looking for a very thin batter (more thin than you may think). If it is too thick, add more chicken stock. Put the batter into a large mixing cup.

Heat the takoyaki pan on medium high heat and carefully brush the pan with oil and a pastry brush. Be attentive to cover every area including the cavities. Pour the batter into the center of the pan and allow it to run and fill every cavity including the surface of the pan.

Place one piece of shrimp into each cavity. Then sprinkle some of the jalapeño, green onion, and bread crumbs over the top of the pan. You won’t use all of them in one batch.

Once the batter starts to get slightly crispy on the bottom, using a chopstick or a long wooden skewer, trace out a circle or square around each well. Then gently start to move the uncooked batter into each cavity. Once most of the batter has been generally moved into the cavities, slide the chop stick or skewer down the sides of each individual mold and flip the balls over where the cooked side is up.

Continue to flip the balls in their cavities until they are brown and crispy on all sides. Then remove them with the skewer.

Serve while hot with kewpie mayonnaise and hot sauce.

Mojo de ajo

4 heads of garlic cloves (about 2 cups) removed and cleaned of paper skin, bruised and slightly mashed

2 cups olive oil

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Place garlic, olive oil, and salt into a baking dish making sure that the garlic is completely submerged. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Then add the lime juice and chili flakes and bake for 15 to 25 minutes more. Cool in the pan, mash slightly, and then pour the oil and garlic into a mason jar. As long as the garlic is submerged it will keep in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 months.

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Dan McCoy

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