How to Make Taiyaki at Home, According to Two Japanese Dessert Experts

Making these charming, fish-shaped pastries is totally doable with these tips.

Keep in mind: Price and stock could change after publish date, and we may make money from these links.
May 21, 2021
961324440

961324440

Photo by: Cavan Images/Getty

Cavan Images/Getty

Crispy, hot and just sweet enough, taiyaki is a quintessential Japanese street food that’s been popular for generations. Commonly described as a cross between cake and waffles, taiyaki is typically filled with sweetened red bean paste (azuki). But its most noteworthy characteristic is its charming fish shape: a symbol of luck and fortune in Japan.

More recently, this traditional treat has been reimagined for the Instagram age by trendy shops like Taiyaki NYC, where the cakes serve as adorable (and photogenic) soft serve ice cream cones.

For those looking to make taiyaki at home, it’s not too dissimilar from cooking waffles — you’ll just need a little practice nailing that perfect golden-brown color. We asked Jimmy Chen, co-founder of Taiyaki NYC, and Hidenori Takada, owner of Oishinbo, a gourmet Japanese grocery and sweets shop in New Jersey, for their best tips.

475403232

475403232

Photo by: MoustacheGirl/Getty

MoustacheGirl/Getty

Pick Your Flour Wisely

While all taiyaki recipes call for flour (along with some combination of sugar, milk, egg, water and baking powder), exactly what kind depends on the texture you’re aiming for: fluffy or crispy. “There are many ways to make taiyaki with different kinds of flour,” says Chen. “Some people like the glutinous feeling of rice flour, which is going to end up more like mochi. Other people like regular flour, which is more like cake batter. It’s completely up to your own palate.” Keep experimenting and see what you love to eat. (As for Takada, he prefers wheat flour.)

Skip the Homemade Filling

Unless you’re prepared for a whole lot of work, don’t bother cooking up red bean paste at home — it can take around ten hours. Instead, Takada recommends Shirakiku red bean paste, available online and at specialty grocery stores. “It’s a very popular Japanese brand and comes in two types: coarse and fine,” he says. If it’s your first time trying red bean paste, Takada suggests the smooth variety. While less traditional, Nutella, chocolate and custard also make delicious fillings.

Take It Easy on the Batter

The biggest rookie mistake when making taiyaki? Overfilling your pan. To get a perfect fish shape without any mess, Takada recommends filling the mold 50% full on both sides. Then, after adding your red bean paste to the middle, carefully fill up the rest of the mold with batter little by little. If the batter happens to spill over, you can remove the crispy edges around the fish with a small knife or scissors once it’s finished cooking.

Go Low and Slow

To make sure your taiyaki doesn’t burn inside the mold, keep the heat on medium-low. After cooking on the first side for three minutes, flip the pan over and cook for another two until golden, says Takada.

Get Creative

If you’re craving some extra sweetness, try recreating Taiyaki NYC’s trendy version of the classic dish at home. “For catering, we make a taiyaki sundae,” says Chen. “You put the taiyaki, ice cream, and toppings in a bowl and use a fork and knife.” Mochi, sprinkles and condensed milk are all fun ways to add richness and flavor.

Related Content:

Next Up

How to Cook a Bunch of Little Dishes for a Crowd

Korean cuisine is known for its impressive spreads of banchan a.k.a. side dishes. Here are tips to pulling off your own well-balanced, ever-changing assortment.

The Secrets to Perfect Stir Frying, According to a Chinese Restaurant Chef

Lucas Sin shares tips that will improve your stir fries, no matter your skill level.

How to Make Cauliflower Rice

Here’s how to make it with and without a food processor.

How to Steam Broccoli

It only takes 3 minutes.

How to Cook Chinese Hot Pot at Home

Many cities have hot pot restaurants, but it’s cheaper to make at home and easier to prep than you think.

The One Thing No One Tells You About Cooking In an Instant Pot

I had to drop this habit to make Instant Pot cooking work for me.

How to Use a Pizza Stone in the Oven

It's a must-have tool for restaurant-style pizzas at home!

How to Cook Zucchini Noodles

Here’s how to cook them perfectly on the stove, in the oven or even in the air fryer.

3 Fun Ways to Make Hot Chocolate Bombs

Anyone can enjoy this fun winter project — even if you don't have chocolate molds.

Latest Stories