Recipe for Nutella Taiyaki: a Japanese fish-shaped pastry with a crispy outside that gives way to a fluffy texture and Nutella filling.
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Known as Taiyaki (鯛焼き, たい焼き, tai- sea bream) in Japan and Bungeoppang (붕어빵, bungeo- crucian carp) in Korea, this fun street food uses a specialty pan to make an iconic fish shape with pancake/waffle batter. Today I filled the fish with Nutella, but other favorite fillings include a sweet red bean paste (traditional), custard, cheese, and more. For a savory option, you can even turn them into sandwiches.
Before moving to Los Angeles, Taiyaki was not something I easily came across on the east coast. The first time I even tried one was in a waffle cone form with soft-serve ice cream at Taiyaki NYC in New York City. I have since discovered SomiSomi here in LA and another great variation of this treat at MuMu Bakery & Cafe in Koreatown with a Nutella Croissant Taiyaki.
Making Taiyaki at home does require the use of a special pan. I have been able to find them on Amazon (Kotobuki Taiyaki Pan) and specialty Japanese and Korean markets. As a note, this pan and most of the others I have come across use aluminum and a nonstick coating that some try to avoid. The pan is best used on a gas stove and definitely avoid glass-top. Due to the shape of the pan, it just won’t cook evenly.
For the pancake/waffle base, I slightly adapted my Hottokēki recipe. After mixing, it needs to refrigerate for about an hour.
Place the taiyaki pan on medium low heat and lightly grease with oil. You may need to adjust the heat slightly lower or higher.
Once heated, fill one side of the taiyaki pan cavities 1/3rd full with the batter. Add a heaping tablespoon of Nutella in the center of the fish and cover with batter to fill out the fish shape. Be careful not to overfill. Close the pan and flip. Cook for about 2 minutes until golden. Flip and cook the other side until golden, another 2 minutes, checking the color periodically once it has had a chance to set.
The red bean paste and Nutella are a bit easier filling options for those with less experience than more runny ingredients like custard. This was my first time filling them so I was on the conservative side, but try to get the filling all the way to the tail if you can.
If you slightly overfill the pan and have crispy edges around the fish, they are easily removed with small scissors or a sharp, small knife.
These are best warm from the pan. Just be careful not to burn yourself with the hot, melty Nutella filling! They won’t be as good as fresh, but you can freeze the Nutella Taiyaki for later and bake until heated through. They are especially delicious paired with ice cream.
If you don’t have cake flour available, you can use all purpose flour. The texture will just change a little.
Nutella Taiyaki Recipe
Adapted from Just One Cookbook
- 1 large egg
- 200 milliliters (3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons) milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract optional
- 40 grams (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter melted and slightly cooled
- 200 grams (1 1/2 cups) cake flour
- 40 grams (3 tablespoons) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- Pinch salt
- Vegetable oil for greasing
- 2/3 cup Nutella divided
- In a medium bowl, beat the egg. Mix in the milk, vanilla extract, and butter.
- In another medium bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to gently fold into the liquid ingredients until just incorporated. Cover and refrigerate the bowl for at least 1 hour.
- Place a taiyaki pan over medium low heat. Lightly grease with vegetable oil.
- Once heated, fill one side of the taiyaki pan cavities 1/3rd full with the batter. Add a heaping tablespoon of Nutella in the center of the fish and cover with batter to fill out the fish shape. Be careful not to overfill. Close the pan and flip. Cook for about 2 minutes until golden. Flip and cook the other side until golden, another 2 minutes, checking the color periodically once it has had a chance to set.
- Transfer the golden taiyaki to a wire rack and repeat with the remaining batter and Nutella.