Taiyaki & fiffles

January 24, 2009

I received a taiyaki pan yesterday, and since it’s been busy time I didn’t get it out for a test run until this morning.  I love it so much!  Those of you who know me know that I am mad about everything fish.  I’m an obsessed fly tier and fly fisher, I love to cook & smoke & eat fish, and I love fish as a design motif on everything from textiles to ceramics.  So when I saw a this fishy cooking implement in the shape of sea bream, I was pretty much instantly besotted.

I awoke at 5am or so and couldn’t fall back asleep, so I spent an hour or two googling any recipes, tips, and pictures I could find of taiyaki.  I learned that some of the traditional sweet fillings include red bean paste (familiar to me from steamed buns), custard, and sweet black sesame jam.

I found this utterly fabulous youtube video about making Hello Kitty taiyaki.

I have some red bean paste, so I decided I’d try that.  Then I thought about all the different batter recipes I’d seen, and decided that they were all very similar to western waffle recipes, so I used a basic not-too-sweet waffle batter.  This batter incorporates whipped egg whites and I am really glad I chose this recipe as it was deeelicious and light and tender on the inside, and beautifully crunchy and carmelized on the outside.

Here is the red bean paste version:

Taiyaki with red bean paste filling

It was super tasty, and will make a lovely afternoon snack with some good green tea.  Mmm!

Then, seeing as it was around the breakfast hour, I figured I’d make the rest of the batter into plain old waffles, only fishy shaped.

These were delicious!  I’ve never owned a waffle iron; I’m not a frequent sweet breakfast eater, so that was okay.  But with my new taiyaki pan, I can make all manner of snacks and breakfast-like foods, and all of them shaped so cutely.  Yay!

Here are the plain breakfast version (which I’ve named fiffles), drizzled with a little maple syrup and a pat of sweet butter:

Fiffles (fishy waffles)

A few notes about using the taiyaki pan: First of all, I found that filling the batter to what seems like barely overflowing the mold is just about right.  So, when I make filled taiyaki, I put in less than full, add the filling, and then put in additional batter to just barely overflowing.  The mold half that you’ve filled is on the heat, so as soon as I close the mold I flip it so the still slightly flowing batter can neatly fill the empty half of the mold.

At this point, I look every few minutes, flipping the pan accordingly so I get the level of crispy carmelization on the crust that I desire.

About that: I find that I like my crusts to be well done, crispy, and pretty well-browned.  For me, this gave an inside that was tender and beautifully cooked, and some nice crispy bits around the fins.  Perfection!

I’m intensely interested in hearing about any savory fillings, so if you know of any, please share!  I’ve thought of one that I think might be delicious: I’ll fry up some tiny diced bacon, then set aside.  Then I’ll make some scrambled egg, add in the bacon, and cook until only barely set, and I’ll use a tablespoon of that in each savory taiyaki.  I know this probably isn’t traditional, but it seems as if it will be yummy.  I’ll report back.

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