Crispy on the outside and filled with sweet red bean paste on the inside, Imagawayaki is a popular street snack in Japan.
Snacks come and go, but some are so sweetly good, they are enjoyed generation after generation like Imagawayaki (今川焼き). A Japanese snack or dessert with sweet red bean paste filling encased on the inside, Imagawayaki is one of the popular wagashi (和菓子) that’s been around for over 300 years.
Watch How To Make Imagawayaki (Obanyaki)
What’s Imagawayaki (or Obanyaki)?
Imagawayaki (今川焼き) is like a stuffed pancake. The batter is poured into a special cast-iron round grilled pan and grilled until crispy on the outside, and filled with sweet red bean paste.
You might know this dessert by Obanyaki (大判焼き). Depending on the region of Japan, these treats go by different names. The name Imagawayaki is used in Kanto region (Tokyo area) while Obanyaki is used in the Kansai region (Osaka and Kyoto area).
Imagawayaki was named after the Imagawa Bridge, which is close to where the dessert was first sold in late 1700’s during Edo period, way before Taiyaki was invented back in 1900’s. Obanyaki was named as the shape of this dessert resembles Oban (an old Japanese coin used at the time).
What Can You Fill Imagawayaki (Obanyaki)?
Traditionally, these round disc-shaped treats are filled with sweet red bean paste. Yes, the Japanese have a long history of affection for red bean. Kind of like the Americans’ love for peanut butter, we even have two types of red bean pastes: tsubuan (chunky) and koshian (smooth). However in the recent years, we are seeing more variety of fillings being offered. From sweet flavors such as vanilla-flavored custard (recipe), matcha (green tea), chocolate, to savory fillings like curry and cheese, I just love how creative & fun we can get with these sweet snacks!
Where To Find Imagawayaki (Obanyaki)?
You can find the snack being sold at Japanese festivals, food stands/shops at Nakamise-Dori (shopping streets toward a popular temple), and underground floor of big department stores (aka Depa Chika).
Where To Buy Imagawayaki Pan
Unlike Dorayaki, you will need an Imagawayaki (Obanyaki) pan. I like this cast-iron pan to create crisp outer shell. You can find one on Amazon and I bought it for $39.99. The current price is slightly outrageous, so you may want to wait and see if the price drops a little.
Warm and fluffy with delicious red bean goodness, it’s hard not to enjoy this traditional snack with great fondness. Not only I get all nostalgic when eating them, I just love how my children faces light up when they take a bite out of the sweet pancake. If you are planning to make the Imagawayaki recipe, find a relaxing weekend and enjoy the delightful snack with a cup of green tea!
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- 2 large eggs (50 g each w/o shell)
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 1 ¼ cup whole milk
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (plain flour)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 14 oz red bean paste (anko) (2 Tbsp (50 g) for each piece)
- 1 Tbsp neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, rice bran, canola, etc.) (for greasing pan)
- Gather all the ingredients.
To Make the Batter
- In a large mixing bowl, mix eggs and sugar.
- Add the honey and milk and whisk all together.
- Sift the all purpose flour and baking powder together and add to the egg mixture.
- Mix well till well combined and rest the batter for at least 15 minutes (to relax the gluten).
- Meanwhile, scoop 2 Tbsp (50 g) of red bean paste and make it into a round disk that fits in the center of the pancake.
To Cook Obanyaki
- Slowly heat up the pan to 350ºF (175ºC) over low heat. If you use high heat, some parts get hot and the heat is not even. Take your time to heat up the pan.
- Dip a small piece of paper towel in vegetable oil and grease the pan. Then use a clean paper towel to wipe off the excess oil (key for even color on imagawayaki).
- When the temperature reaches 350ºF (175ºC) over low heat, pour the batter into a liquid measuring cup for easy pouring. The batter makes about 2¼ cups.
- Add the batter half way full and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add red bean paste and set timer for 3 minutes. After 1 minute passed (on your 3 minute timer), pour the batter into the empty pan third full and cook for the rest of 2 minutes.
- [optional] If you like to use custard cream instead of red bean paste, use an ice cream scooper to drop the custard in the middle of batter.
- Using a small metal spatula or skewer, pick up two pancakes with the filling and place on top of the pancakes without filling.
- [optional] If you use custard cream for filling, you may want to add a few minutes of cooking time as custard cream is probably chilled prior to the use.
- Press down gently and cook for 2 minutes. Loosen up the edges of the pancakes and remove them from the pan.
- Let cool on wire rack. Repeat this process until you’re done with the batter.
To Serve and Store
- Serve immediately while it's hot/warm. Keep the leftovers in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for 2 days or in the freezer for a month. You can defrost overnight in the refrigerator or reheat the frozen piece in the microwave (reduce power so it won't explode). And then bake at 350ºF (175ºC) in the oven toaster or oven till crispy outside.