Everything You Need To Know About Taiyaki

Japan is home to some of the world's most influential and diverse dishes, with ingredients and combinations to satisfy a wide-range of palates. Between the country's signature fluffy pancakes, remarkable egg salad, and beloved mayonnaise, there are plenty of options for those familiar with Japanese cuisine to consider when ready to snack — and one uniquely Japanese snack we love is the famous and freshly-served taiyaki. 

What is taiyaki, you ask? According to Just One Cookbook, taiyaki is a popular fish-shaped cake served hot and filled with azuki bean paste, which is a sweet ingredient made from red beans. If you're not in Japan, it might be little difficult to get your hands on this treat; however, there's good news! It turns out you can make your very own version of taiyaki from your kitchen. Since it's similar to cooking up a plate of waffles, all you need are a few ingredients you probably already have stored away in your cupboard like flour, baking powder, and sugar. For the filling, if you can't find azuki paste or simply aren't a fan of the sweet ingredient, Just One Cookbook recommends swapping in a helping of Nutella, cheese, or sweet potato. But if you're trying to stick to the traditional recipe, you'll have to find a special tool to create taiyaki's distinct fish shape.

Why is taiyaki shaped like a fish?

Taiyaki has a pretty unforgettable look, but where does it get this shape from? According to Atlas Obscura, taiyaki actually means "baked sea bream," which a type of fish that used to be an expensive delicacy only eaten in Japan on special occasions during the late 1800s and the early 1900s. However, no one is exactly sure when this trendy shape emerged within local sweet shops, as taiyaki were originally created using circular molds. These treats eventually transformed to mimic the luxurious fish.

While the origin of this fishy shape may be unclear, taiyaki's taste is just as unique and worthy of noting. Featuring a crunchy outside and packed with a sweet filling, you might want to brush up on your crafty kitchen skills if you can't find the traditional street food near you. Reminiscent to of fluffy waffle, you can create your own version of the classic treat, but be sure to keep an eye out for an authentic taiyaki maker so you can experience the real deal.