KNOWvember: Day Twenty-SEven - Taiyaki
I love my son. You might remember he was the one who gave me the idea for Corpse Fever which you can read about on KNOWvember Day Three. Other than being someone who loves the oddities of life, my son has always been obsessed with all things Japan. In fact, he selected his high school because they teach Japanese as a language.
While I have no idea what he is saying when he speaks it to me, I do know that his love has yielded many great things that we have enjoyed. The biggest being his constant quest to perfect ramen, a Japanese noodle soup.
So when my boy asks, “Dad, do you want to know how to make taiyaki?” the only right answer is “When can we start.”
Fun Fact: It's traditional to serve tai fish (sea bream) on the 100th day after a baby's birth, as well as at New Year's celebrations and festivals such as the Toyohama Tai Festival, where the people in the fishing community carry a giant tai float into the sea.
So as you might have guessed, Taiyaki gets its name because it’s shaped like a tai fish. It is very similar to the Japanese pancake treat, Imagawayaki, but smaller. And fish shaped.
Taiyaki was first sold in Japan in 1909 when Seijirō Kobe, founder of the store Naniwaya Sōhonten, was having trouble selling his imagawayaki. Using a bit of marketing savoy, Kobe decided to bake the cakes into shapes that resembled the tai, a symbol of luck and fortune in Japan.
At the time, tai was very expensive and only the very wealthy could afford them. And only on special occasions. Rumor has it that Kobe wanted to give the ordinary people a taste of the expensive fish at low prices. And he did it by stuffing sweet surprises into a cake shaped like a fish. I can hear Marie Antoinette saying, “Let them eat cake!”
Since its creation, taiyaki has evolved into many variations, with different ingredients being used for filling and batter, as well as variations in shapes and sizes.
Taiyaki would eventually make its way around the world. It came ashore first in Korea, during the Japanese colonial period. You can still find it, but it’s called bugeo-ppang. Soon it made its way to other Asian countries, but it wasn’t until after WWII did it cross the Pacific Ocean and swim into our country where, if you are lucky, you can catch one or two.
So, how do you make Taiyaki? As long as you can get your hands on a special taiyaki griddle with fish-shaped mold, it’s pretty simple. (Or buy mold on Amazon here)
You can find a delicious Taiyaki recipe by Chef Iso who has listed all the ingredients you need to make this savory treat for yourself. Who knows, maybe I will surprise my son. Not with a trip to Japan like he wants. But by giving him a taste of the good life from the comfort of his own home.
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An ex-copywriter turned punk rock pastor and peacemaker who dedicates his life to making the world a better place for all humanity.
"that they all might be one" ~John 17:21
“Prius vita quam doctrina.”
~ St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274)
* “Life is more important than doctrine.”