TAIYAKI – FISH-SHAPED COOKIE
WHAT IS TAIYAKI
Taiyaki is a traditional Japanese cookie, which is well-known for its shape, namely the shape of the fish. Literally “taiyaki” is translated as “baked sea bream.” Taiyaki is prepared from classic pancake or waffle batter. Each side of a fish-shaped mold is filled with this batter. After that, the filling is added, and taiyaki is baked until golden brown. The most common fillings for taiyaki are sweet beans, shiroan (white bean paste), custard, chocolate, and sweet potato. However, there is also taiyaki with cheese, sausage, okonomiyaki, and other fillings.
HISTORY OF TAIYAKI
Taiyaki was created in Japan about 100 years ago. It is believed that for the first time, taiyaki was cooked in the Japanese pastry shop, Naniwa-Ya, in 1909.
The origin of taiyaki may be related to another type of Japanese cookie – imagawayaki, called "obanyaki" – in the Kansai region. Imagawayaki began to be sold during the Edo period near the Imagawabashi bridge in Kanda, Tokyo. Imagawayaki are a lot like taiyaki, but they have a round shape and softer texture.
The reason for the appearance of fish-shaped cookies is unknown. The most common version says that in those days, sea bream was very expensive, and cookies were given the shape of a fish to make a consumer feel like he or she was eating something luxurious. Furthermore, "tai," in the name of cookies, is similar to another Japanese word, "medetai," meaning happiness and prosperity. To that end, people often eat taiyaki to attract good luck.
You need eggs, milk, preferably high-fat (ideally, it should be cream, because in our country it is impossible to find milk with such fat content as in Japan), good, heavy flour (like flour for bread), baking powder, and good vanilla to prepare taiyaki.
The Japanese traditionally stuff taiyaki with bean paste. They adore custard, which, in fact, appeared in Japan only thirty years ago thanks to the French. In addition to these fillings, Nutella with bananas would be a perfect option: on one side of the mold you need to put a few pieces of banana, on the other – Nutella. The amount of filling can be varied to your taste. In addition, a mixture of tahini and custard or even fried chicken with mushrooms and onions, or cheddar with fried bacon and slightly salted salmon with cream cheese are suitable. If you take a savory filling, the amount of sugar in the dough can be reduced by half.
Japanese taiyaki sweets are made from unfermented or fancy pastry, baked in a special mold. Cookies are usually prepared with anko bean paste, chocolate, cream, or cheese as a filling. The cooking process is not complicated at all and does not require special skill and experience. Therefore, everyone can prepare taiyaki. Taiyaki mold (Taiyaki Pan or modern toaster) can be purchased in online stores or in specialized stores of Japanese or Oriental goods. It will be very easy to find such taiyaki mold, since this method of cooking has become very popular all around the world.