Street foods are a must-try whenever one visits a new country. In Japan, their wide variety of enticing snacks on the go is particularly irresistible.
From Dango, Takoyaki, Wagyu Beef, and Yakitori to Ikayaki. There’s plenty to sample, but one of the most popular treats is Taiyaki.
What is Taiyaki?
The delectable fish-shaped waffle treat is a tasty snack with a creamy center, oozing various delicious fillings from chocolate to custard flavors.
Yatai or street food vendors are common during festivals. Still, you can find a few along the busy alleyways or streets in large cities.
If you want a quick yet tasty, affordable, and quality takeaway meal, Taiyaki is one to try.
Here is a list of the best Taiyaki flavors to try out, and they are perfect for any weather.
The Origin of Taiyaki
Taiyaki dates back to the mid-1800s when the fish-shaped cake treat first became popular.
Initially, traditional street vendors made them thick, round flour cakes filled with sweet red bean paste.
Also known as Imagawayaki, these vendors began trying different shapes, sizes, and fillings, eventually discovering the fish shape mold.
Today, the sweet snack is one of the Japanese culture’s most significant street foods.
Numerous permanent cakes and pastry stores sell different flavors of Taiyaki.
However, street stalls remain popular as they are readily available near fairs, local festivals, shrines, and tourist attractions.
It is a celebrations snack that retains originality over the years and is easy to find.
Here’s A List Of Our Favorite Taiyaki Flavors You Should Try!
Although the traditional filling for Taiyaki has always been a flavorful red bean paste, today, vendors use a variety of delicious flavors.
Give these a try if you ever find yourself roaming the streets of Japan.
The Azuki Red Bean
The sweet red bean paste filling is available in every street vendor’s stall as one of the original classic flavors.
Depending on the vendor’s preference, you may find it coarse with sizeable chunks of Azuki beans or a smoother cream.
Whichever you try, you are bound to enjoy the unique taste of this traditional filling. Pair it with a hot cup of green tea to make it a meal.
Besides being a tasty snack, the Azuki red bean paste is a healthy carbohydrate.
Some of its benefits include:
- Low-fat content, making it excellent for those looking to lose weight.
- It helps improve digestion due to its high fiber content.
- It’s rich in minerals that may lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Matcha is a well-loved green tea leaves powder with numerous health benefits hence its popularity.
It has a naturally sweet, grassy, and slightly bitter flavor that combines well with red bean paste or a different sugary filling.
You will love this combination, as matcha is a common topping in almost all Japanese desserts.
Some of the valuable health benefits of matcha include the following:
- It is rich in antioxidants, which can lower one’s risk of chronic illnesses.
- It boosts brain performance, especially attention and memory.
- It promotes a healthy heart, reducing the risk of heart disease.
Chocolate is one of the modern flavors of Taiyaki, a popular option among those with a sweet tooth.
Besides using the milky chocolate cream filling, some vendors mold the waffle using a chocolate mix batter.
We recommend you try the chocolate ones, especially if you have kids.
Another modern yet classic Taiyaki flavor is the custard cream filling.
Every Konbini, Japanese convenience store, or street vendor stocks this flavor, so you will likely notice it.
It is naturally sweet, making it the perfect combination with black tea or coffee.
Try out the sweet, toasty, and nutty seasonal flavor of chestnut filling in your Taiyaki.
The thick, smooth texture of roasted chestnuts makes a paste that pairs well with other sweet fillings. If you love nuts, then this is the best flavor for you.
Cherry blossoms are plenty during spring in Japan, making them the next best filling option for Taiyaki.
The flowers and leaves are crushed to make a thick, flavorful paste rich in antioxidants.
If you are lucky to visit Japan in spring, a sakura-filled Taiyaki is a must-try, although a few stores stock them all year round.
Some of the health benefits that make Sakura popular among the Japanese include:
- It contains anti-inflammatory properties that are good for clear skin.
- It promotes the production of collagen, which helps reduce wrinkles and maintain youthful skin.
- It contains essential fatty acids that help repair one’s skin.
Sweet Potato Paste
Like chestnut, sweet potato paste is a regular season filling for Taiyaki.
The mash combines Japanese sweet potatoes, caster sugar, salt, butter, and cream for a smooth texture.
Some vendors also add vanilla or spices for a more exotic flavor. Take it with tea, as it can be particularly filling.
Summertime in Japan can be sweltering hot. However, ice cream is not a standard filling but a common Taiyaki topping.
It is the best thing to eat during summer, so insist on an ice cream topping with whichever flavor of Taiyaki you pick.
How To Make Taiyaki At Home
Making Taiyaki at home is simple, although it may have different flavors than the original ones from Japanese street vendors.
Similar to making waffles, you will need fish-shaped molds. Your waffles also need that golden-brown color that can be initially tricky to achieve.
Here’s a simple recipe you can try out. Make a filling of your choice, as nothing is off-limits.
CookKing – Taiyaki Japanese Fish-shaped Pancake Double Pan
Items you will need:
- Fish-shaped mold. If you can’t find a waffle maker in that shape, a baking pan in the same form is okay.
- Cake flour
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
- Vanilla extract
Mix the dry and wet ingredients similar to the batter for making pancakes or waffles. However, the consistency of Taiyaki should be slightly thinner, like soft-serve ice cream.
Prepare your filling of choice.
Pour batter into your waffle maker or molds. Place your filling onto the first layer, then cover it with another layer of batter.
Close the waffle maker or place the baking pan in the oven for about 6 minutes. Remember to turn and brush your cakes with butter every few minutes for them to brown evenly.
Check that they are cooked through and remove them from the molds.
Serve your warm and crunchy homemade Taiyaki with tea or coffee.
Taiyaki is a well-loved street snack and the best culinary experience for anyone visiting culturally diverse Japan.
You can even find it in authentic Japanese stores in your local town. Look out for the above flavors, as they are the best Taiyaki treats.
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