A classic street vendor snack in Japan, Taiyaki is a warm fish-shaped cake with red bean filling. This waffle-like Japanese snack is very popular at street fairs and festivals in Japan. In this recipe, I’ll show you how you can make fresh hot Taiyaki at home.
Living in the US, I crave street vendors’ foods that I used to enjoy at festivals in Japan. Among them, hot and freshly made Taiyaki (鯛焼き) with red bean paste was one of my favorites.
What is Taiyaki?
Taiyaki (鯛焼き) a fish-shape cake/snack filled with azuki sweet red bean paste. During the street fair and festivals, you’ll see it being cooked on a fish-shaped iron mold.
Why Taiyaki is Fish-shaped?
The original taiyaki iron mold was round and the mold was for (still is) making Imagawayaki, which is the same as Taiyaki but with a circular shape.
Back in Meiji-era (1868 – 1912), Tai (sea bream) was considered a very expensive fish and only eaten for special celebrations. Though unclear which sweet shops actually started the trend, they decided to change the snack from its circular shape mold to the sea bream shape mold, and the sea-bream-shaped cake was born and became a huge hit.
Tai means “sea bream” and yaki means “grilled/baked”, hence that’s the origin of taiyaki.
When Taiyaki is freshly made, the crispy exterior surrounding the warm soft cake with Anko filling is simply delectable. I would toss the taiyaki between my hands to avoid getting burnt and slowly bite into the steaming hot cake. I usually start eating from the head side and the tail last (how about you?).
Sometimes I had to share a taiyaki with my younger brother and I always fought for the head side because taiyaki shops do not always put the red bean filling all the way to the tail. I was always really disappointed when they don’t. You know how much I love red bean paste… 🙂
I miss those memories and always wished that I could eat taiyaki here in the U.S. And thanks to requests from some of my blog readers, I decided to purchase a fish-shaped Taiyaki Pan and started to make taiyaki at home.
How to Make Taiyaki
Classic street vendor snack in Japan, warm soft fish-shaped cake with red bean filling. You can also use Nutella and other fillings.
It’s pretty simple to make Taiyaki.
- Make the batter.
- Heat the Taiyaki pan and pour the batter.
- Add the filling of your choice and cook!
It’s similar to a waffle making, but with a filling. What kind of filling should we prepare? Let’s talk about that next.
For the filling, sweet red bean paste (Anko) is classic and most popular, but these days there are other options such as:
- Custard cream (recipe)
- Sweet potato paste, and more!
Each taiyaki store and family has its own recipe and style for taiyaki, and my recipe leans toward cakey, fluffy pancake texture as that’s my children’s preference. I like mine to be on the crispy side like waffles. If you also like crispy texture, omit the egg and adjust the liquid amount for the batter.
- 1 ¼ cup cake flour (You can make your homemade cake flour with all-purpose flour and cornstarch. To make 1 cup of cake flour, measure 1 cup of all-purpose flour, remove 2 Tbsp, and add 2 Tbsp of cornstarch. Be sure to sift the flour to distribute the cornstarch well before using it; If you use a measuring cup, follow this method: fluff your flour with a spoon, sprinkle it into your measuring cup, and use a knife to level it off. Otherwise, 1 cup of flour ends up with more than 120 g.)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 large egg (50 g w/o shell)
- ¾ cup whole milk (¾ cup + 4 tsp to be precise; depending on the egg size, adjust the amount of milk.)
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- 5 Tbsp red bean paste (anko) (for my homemade recipe, click here. You can also use Nutella, custard, or your favorite filling.)
- 1 Tbsp neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, rice bran, canola, etc) (for greasing the grill)
- Gather all the ingredients. You will also need a taiyaki maker. Please note that each brand of taiyaki maker comes with a different size mold, so if you are making taiyaki for the first time, consider the first time as a trial for measuring your taiyaki size and ingredients portion.
- Sift the cake flour, baking powder and baking soda into a large bowl.
- Add the sugar and whisk well to combine.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the egg and then add the milk to combine well.
- Combine the dry ingredients with wet ingredients and whisk well. Keep the batter in the refrigerator for at least one hour to rest and let the flour absorb liquid. Whisking the batter creates gluten, so it’s better to let it rest to make a smooth batter.
- Pour the batter into a measuring cup or jug. It should be 1 ¼ cup.
- Heat the taiyaki pan and grease the pan with vegetable oil using a brush.
- Fill the taiyaki pan mold about 60% full over medium-low heat.
- Put anko in the center of each mold and pour the batter on top to cover it.
- Close the lid and immediately flip.
- Cook for 2-2.5 minutes each side. Then flip and cook another 2-2.5 minutes. Open and check to see if taiyaki is golden brown. Let Taiyaki cool on a wire rack.
- You can also use Nutella as filling.