All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.


Taiyaki / fish-shaped cakes with sweet azuki bean paste

One of my favorite Japanese sweets. There are many specialized taiyaki shops all over Japan, and their fish often have a different look. Sweet azuki bean paste is the traditional filling, although in the last few decades filling options have expanded to custard cream, matcha cream, chocolate cream, caramel cream, etc. I like the traditional style taiyaki, whose cake batter is made of flour, water, egg and baking soda (no milk or baking powder) and is filled with azuki bean paste cooked right there at the shop. The recipe below tastes very similar to the mini imagawayaki (a round cake with sweet azuki bean paste inside, which is the original form of taiyaki) I used to buy in my childhood at a little shop run by an old lady in a neighboring town.


(8 taiyaki cakes)

100 g flour
20 g rice flour
1 tsp (3 g) baking soda
1 egg
2 tbsp (24 g) sugar
1/2 tbsp (approx. 10 g) honey
150 cc water
200-240 g tsubuan sweet azuki bean paste (not in photo)


Mix baking soda and water.


In a mixing bowl, lightly beat egg, add sugar, and mix well.

Add honey and mix well.

Add baking soda + water mixture, and mix well.


Mix flour and rice flour, and sift into liquid mixture above.

Mix well.

Cover, and let sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours (or in the fridge for several hours to overnight) until bubbles appear on the surface.
(Photo at left shows the batter after 2 hours; surface bubbles are visible, and the batter is ready.)


Heat both bottom and cover sides of taiyaki pan, and oil well inside (both fish mold and flat area).

Close cover, and heat pan well.

Place pan on a moistened towel to cool somewhat.


Mix batter very well.


Put pan back on burner on low heat, spoon in batter (approx. 1 1/2 tbsp), and quickly spread to all corners of the mold.


Put tsuban (approx. 1 tbsp), and spoon batter (approx. 1 1/2 tbsp) over tsubuan.

Close cover, and flip pan.

Cook for 1-2 minutes while moving the pan's position to get even heat distribution.


Taiyaki is ready.
Serve hot.

  • Cooking time differs by heat source, pan material and size. I use a portable gas stove (kasetto konro) as it gives me better heat control over a taiyaki pan compared to the electric stove in our kitchen. My taiyakiki (taiyaki pan) is cast iron and produces two taiyaki, with each fish measuring about 12 cm x 7.5 cm.
  • How much tsubuan to use (in other words, proportion of batter and tsubuan) depends on individual preference.
  • Whether or not to put tsubuan in the tail section also is up to you.
  • Make sure to use a fresh egg, as its flavor comes through in the finished taiyaki. Older eggs make taiyaki batter taste flat and not aromatic.
  • The batter above is slightly sweet. When sugar is reduced to 20 g, the sweetness becomes very subtle.
  • Use good tsubuan, ideally homemade or from a Japanese confectionery shop. Widely available packaged tsubuan tends to be sugary sweet and somehow watery, and it is difficult to strike a balance of flavor and aroma with other components.

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