Taiyaki is a popular Japanese sweet desert that generally comprises of a sea bream shaped jaffle made from pancake or waffle batter. It is filled with red bean paste or various other sweet fillings.
Taiyaki originated in Tokyo in the early 1900′s, and like many other Japanese dishes, the “yaki” part of the name means to grill. The way it is cooked is in a type of fish shaped waffle iron where the batter is put in first before the main filling, and then the iron is closed shut to cook the taiyaki and its tasty ingredients. The “Tai” part of the name comes from the Japanese name of sea bream, sea bream are a symbol of good fortune, hence the reason for wanting a dessert shaped like a fish.
The dish is probably derived from the Imagawayaki dish that dates back to the late 1700s. This dessert uses a similar batter and red bean paste in a round shape mold. The red bean paste is made from sweetened azuki beans and is the traditional filling in a taiyaki.
As the popularity of taiyaki increased, several taiyaki shops sprung up all across Japan. Today the fillings range from sweet flavours like chocolate, custard or apple to more savoury fillings like Italian, German potato and bacon or even cheese burger flavour.
Taiyaki waffle irons can be found for sale in kitchen districts like Osaka’s Doguya-suji or Tokyo’s Kappabashi-dori. If you want to try out a taiyaki outside of Japan, check out your local Asian supermarket for a Korean fish shaped ice cream that is derived from Korea’s Bungeopang. Bungeopang was derived from Taiyaki when Taiyaki was taken to Korea during Korea’s 1930′s Japanese occupation.
Website of a taiyaki fast food chain