Making taiyaki is a fun activity you can share with your kids. These fish waffles can be filled with sweet or savory fillings, and make a wonderful snack or dessert.
What is Taiyaki?
Taiyaki (鯛焼き) is a Japanese cake shaped like a fish that’s stuffed with sweet red bean paste (anko), or various other fillings. It’s a popular snack sold during street festivals and fairs, convenience stores, at food counters (which are located in the basement of shopping malls) and specialty shops all across Japan. In South Korea, taiyaki is called bungeo-ppang and is a popular street food to enjoy during the winter time.
How to Pronounce Taiyaki
The word taiyaki literally means grilled seabream.
Ingredients for Taiyaki Batter
- Cake flour or Pancake flour: Cake flour is preferable but I’ve used pancake flour in the past and it also works well.
- Baking soda: I’m using 2 teaspoons to make the dough lighter and more puffy.
- Sugar: Just a little sugar to give the waffle like cakes a little sweetness. Japanese desserts are generally less sweet than what we are used to eating here, so less sugar is needed. But feel free to add an extra teaspoon of sugar if you like a sweeter cake.
- Salt: Just a pinch to balance the sweetness of the batter.
- Water: Using a mixture of milk and water means that the texture of the cakes will be less dense and fluffier. I’m using half and half for this recipe.
- Milk: Using a mixture of milk and water means that the texture of the cakes will be less dense and fluffier. I’m using half and half for this recipe.
- Egg: Only 1 egg is needed to bind all the ingredients.
The fun part about making taiyaki is that you can use all kinds of filling for it! I encourage you to try your own twist and use a filling you personally love. As for myself, I opted to use anko, nutella, and strawberry jam.
Which one tasted best according to myself, Ben, and his mother? To my surprise, we all picked the jam filling as a winner!
Here are other popular taiyaki fillings:
- Sweet potato paste
- Matcha cream
Anko is made by soaking adzuki beans overnight and cooking them until they are tender. Sugar is then added to the beans which are mashed to create a paste. You can buy it online, at a Japanese supermarket, or you can make anko at home by following my recipe.
- Mixing bowl
- Oil brush or cooking spray
- Taiyaki pan
- Baking rack (optional)
Taiyaki Maker (Mold)
You will need a taiyaki pan to shape the batter like fish. The one I have is by Kotobuki, which is a brand I trust based on previous purchases I have made with them.
So far the pan is holding well and is truly made of non-stick material. I got it here on Amazon for around $25.
How to Make Taiyaki
- Sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, sugar, salt) into a bowl.
- Add the water, milk, and egg, and whisk until the batter is smooth. Refrigerate for up to 2 hours.
- Take the taiyaki pan and place it over a burner on the stove. Turn the heat on to medium low and brush the fish molds with a little oil.
- Place the batter and the fillings on the counter next to the taiyaki pan so you can have easy access to the ingredients.
- Ladle a little batter and pour enough to fill about 50% of each fish mold, leaving the tail part empty.
- Give the batter a few seconds to cook and scoop a little anko, nutella, or jam. Place it in the center of each mold and add a little more batter on top to cover the filling.
- Close the taiyaki pan and flip it.
- Let the taiyaki cook for 2-3 minutes and flip the pan. Let it cook for another minute or two, until both sides are golden brown.
- Transfer the fish cakes to a baking rack and let them cool for a couple of minutes before serving.
Where to Buy Taiyaki
If you don’t have a taiyaki mold and are craving taiyaki, don’t worry! There are other ways to get your hands on this delicious Japanese fish cake dessert.
If you live in California, Texas, or Hawaii, there’s a Korean ice cream and taiyaki chain called Somi Somi that offers ah-boong, which are taiyaki stuffed with filling and topped with ice cream. They are so good! Somi Somi also sells the classic warm taiyaki with fillings such as taro, custard, nutella, cheddar, and red bean.
If you are in New York, check out Taiyaki NYC, located in Chinatown. There you can also find taiyaki stuffed with ice cream such as matcha, black sesame, and hojicha, and toppings like condensed milk, wafer sticks, unicorn sprinkles, and a ton of other choices. Taiyaki NYC’s menu also includes the traditional taiyaki cake with anko or custard, and even sells pancakes with baby taiyaki on top.
In Chicago there’s Taiyaki Chicago, which offers taiyaki ice cream in flavors like matcha, chocolate, and vanilla, and toppings such as rainbow mochi, crushed Oreos, and caramel sauce. They also offer the classic taiyaki cake with anko or peanut butter as a filling.
For those like me, who live outside the main cities, unfortunately the only way to eat taiyaki is to make it at home. If you do have a taiyaki shop in your city, please leave the location in the comment section as I would love to add more this list!
While taiyaki tastes best when it’s right out of the pan (the texture is a little crispy and the filling warm and almost gooey), it can keep for a couple of days in the fridge. In order to keep the texture moist, keep them stored in an airtight storage container.
If you wish to freeze taiyaki, wrap each fish individually in cling wrap and place them in an airtight storage container, or sealable bag. They will keep for up to 6 weeks.
The best way to reheat taiyaki is by toasting them (if they fit in your toaster), or to pan fry them without using any oil, until they are crispy. You can microwave them for 20 seconds but the downside to doing this is you won’t get the crispy exterior.
If you are into Japanese desserts, I have a few more recipes you might be interested to try. Most of them are easy to make and not crazy sweet, which I personally prefer.
Did you like this Taiyaki Recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share? Share your tips and recommendations in the comments section below!Print
Making taiyaki is a fun activity you can do with your kids. These fish waffles can be filled with sweet or savory fillings, and make a wonderful snack or dessert.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Total Time: 35 minutes + 2 hours passive time
- Yield: 10-12 taiyaki fish 1x
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Stove top
- Cuisine: Japanese
- Diet: Vegetarian
- 200g cake flour or pancake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 80 ml water
- 80 ml oat milk or regular milk
- 1 large egg
- Neutral oil for brushing the taiyaki pan
- Anko (sweet red bean paste)
- Nutella (optional)
- Strawberry jam (optional)
- In a bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, sugar, and salt.
- Whisk in the water, milk, and egg, and mix until the batter is smooth. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour, up to 2 hours.
- Brush the fish molds with a little oil and place the taiyaki pan on a burner over medium-low heat.
- Pour enough batter in each mold to cover about 50% of the surface, leaving the tail part empty (it will fill up once you add a filling and more batter).
- Let the batter cook for a few seconds and place a little anko (or other filling of your choice) in each of the molds.
- Top with more batter until the filling is covered, this time filling the tail portion as well.
- Close the top part of the taiyaki pan and flip it.
- Cook for 2 – 3 minutes and flip the pan. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, until both sides are golden brown. Not all taiyaki pan are the same sizes so yours may take more or less time to cook.
- Transfer to a baking rack and let cool for a few minutes before eating.
Keep taiyaki cakes in an airtight storage container. They will keep for up to 2 days.
Wrap each fish individually and place them in an airtight storage container or bag. They will keep for up to 6 weeks.
Use a toaster to reheat taiyaki or warm them up in a pan, without using any oil. Both methods should yield a crispy exterior. You can also microwave taiyaki for 20 seconds, but the texture won’t be crispy. It will be more pancake-like.
- Serving Size: 1 taiyaki fish
- Calories: 111
- Sugar: 2.8g
- Sodium: 279.1mg
- Fat: 0.8g
- Saturated Fat: 0.2g
- Unsaturated Fat: 0.2g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 22.4g
- Fiber: 0.6g
- Protein: 3.1g
- Cholesterol: 18.6mg