Are you team pancakes or team waffles? I like pancakes for an everyday breakfast, but waffles are definitely my go-to for special occasions. They seem more like dessert to me, probably because of waffle cones for ice cream, plus the rise of Hong Kong-style bubble waffles in NYC. Speaking of which, what is with those bubble waffles? They seem to be all over Instagram these days! Yeah, I get it, they look cool, but Japan has an even cooler version of waffles that deserves more attention. Let me introduce you to taiyaki!
Taiyaki is a Japanese fish-shaped waffle with anko (red bean paste) as the filling. The name comes from tai – a type of fish – and yaki, meaning “grilled.” This dessert is often served at traditional festivals called matsuri, but can also be found at grocery stores or konbini (convenience stores). Today, you can buy versions filled with chocolate, custard, and even cheese!
Eating taiyaki always reminds me of my childhood trips to Japan. Unfortunately, the traditional recipe includes dairy and eggs, which I no longer eat as a vegan. Even the internet has virtually no plant-based taiyaki recipes! Until now, that is. Because I have created a recipe that perfectly replaces the original, minus the animal products.
If you don’t have a taiyaki pan, I suppose you could try making this recipe in a regular waffle maker. However, I highly recommend purchasing one on Amazon, since they’re very cheap and easy to find! Besides, is it really taiyaki if it’s not shaped like the tai fish? No, the answer is no.
Vegan Taiyaki (Japanese Fish-Shaped Waffle With Red Bean Filling)
Taiyaki is a popular Japanese street food consisting of a fish-shaped waffle surrounding a red bean filling called anko. This version is vegan and easy to make at home!
- 134 g all purpose flour about 1 cup
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 2 tsp vegetable oil
- 100 g red bean paste (anko) see notes for recipe
Combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl and whisk well to combine. Add the almond milk and oil and mix just until smooth. Cover and allow the batter to rest in the refrigerator while heating the Taiyaki pan.
Heat the Taiyaki pan on medium-low and lightly coat with cooking spray or oil.
Transfer the batter to a liquid measuring cup or squeeze bottle. Fill each fish-shaped mold just over halfway full with batter. Place a spoonful of anko (red bean filling) on the center of each fish’s body. Cover with more batter, filling all areas of the mold. Close the lid immediately and flip the pan.
Cook for 2-3 minutes, flip, then cook for an additional 2 minutes on the other side. Open the Taiyaki maker and check the color. If the Taiyaki is golden brown, remove carefully and set on a wire rack to cool. If the color is still too pale, close and cook for one additional minute.
- You can use store-bought anko, or you can make your own in an instant pot with this recipe!
- If you don’t have a Taiyaki pan, you can get one here.