Recipe courtesy of Kathleen Brennan for Food Network Kitchen

Taiyaki

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Taiyaki are filled waffle-like Japanese snacks cooked in fish-shaped molds over a burner. They date back to the Edo era, when vendors morphed a similar round treat into the shape of a sea bream, a prized fish in Japan. Taiyaki (which literally means grilled sea bream) became very popular and are now a staple at outdoor markets, food halls and street festivals. Somewhat cakey on the inside, they vary from crispy to soft on the outside. This version falls in between. Taiyaki are traditionally filled with anko (sweet red bean paste), but Nutella, custard, matcha cream, chocolate, jam and ham and cheese are other options. Taiyaki pan sizes can vary, so the first time you make the recipe, you might need to play around with the amount of batter and anko per mold. You may need to adjust the heat level and/or cooking time, too. Use the first batch as a gauge.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr 35 min (includes resting time)
  • Active: 35 min
  • Yield: 6 servings
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Ingredients

Directions

Special equipment:
a taiyaki pan (the molds in ours measure 5 by 3 inches)
  1. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and a pinch of salt in a fine-mesh sieve set over a large bowl. Sift the ingredients into the bowl and set aside.
  2. Whisk together the milk, egg and 1/3 cup water in a medium bowl. Slowly pour the egg mixture into the dry ingredients while whisking. Whisk just until the batter is smooth (don’t overmix), then cover the bowl and let rest in the refrigerator for about 1 hour. 
  3. When you’re ready to make the taiyaki, heat a closed taiyaki pan over low heat. Meanwhile, divide the anko into 6 portions and place them on a plate. Shape each portion into a cylinder roughly 2 inches long and 2/3 inch wide, tapering each slightly at 1 end.  
  4. Open the pan and lightly brush the molds on the top and bottom with oil. Ladle in or pour from a measuring cup enough batter to fill the 2 bottom molds about halfway (about 2 tablespoons each). Place 1 portion of anko in the center of each bottom mold, putting the tapered end toward the tail. Cover the bean paste with 1 to 2 more tablespoons of batter (see Cook’s Note). Close the lid and immediately invert the pan on the burner, holding it firmly shut. Let cook until golden brown on the bottom, 3 to 4 minutes. 
  5. Invert the pan again and cook until the bottoms of the fish are golden brown and the batter is cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes more. Using tongs or chopsticks, gently and carefully transfer the taiyaki to a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining batter and anko, lightly greasing the molds between batches. Let cool slightly before serving. 

Cook’s Note

Store-bought anko comes in smooth and chunky versions; use whichever you prefer. Be careful not to overfill the molds, but don’t worry if some of the batter runs out of them. You can cut or break it off after cooking the taiyaki. When measuring flour, we spoon it into a dry measuring cup and level off excess. (Scooping directly from the bag compacts the flour, resulting in dry baked goods.)

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