Matsumotos Corner Vol.2

TAIYAKI  Pancakes baked in the shape of an auspicious fish

This fish-shaped confection is called TAIYAKI.
In a baking mold in the shape of a fish called “TAI” in Japan
(sea bream in English), well mixed flour, egg and other
ingredients are baked to form the half side of the TAIYAKIfish
skin. After putting sweetened bean paste on it, a fish shape will be  completed by covering them with the other
side skin which is baked in a symmetric mold. “YAKI” means baked.
The exquisite combination of sweetened bean paste and wheat-based skin gives you one of the best experiences of tasting common people’s food in Japan. Now, as each TAIYAKI shop is competing by devising the type of stuffing and how to bake the skin, we can enjoy various types of
TAIYAKI with custard cream, chocolate, caramel etc. in it.
Why is this pancake shaped like a tai.
Actually, real tai is a big high-class f ish that is highly valued in Japan not only because of its high price. One of the reasons people feel so is the red color when baked is considered auspicious. Generally speaking, red is a happy color in Japan. Another reason is, in Japanese, the word meaning auspicious is pronounced “medetai”. As you see, the last “tai” of this word is the same as the name of this fish. For these reasons, the Japanese often serve real wholly-saltgrilled tai on the traditional celebration table. Just having this fish will make the place very festive and gorgeous. Of course, taste is also great. A man named Seijiro Kanbe, who invented TAIYAKI in Tokyo about 100 years ago, said the reasons why making this pancake into a tai shape were because it is a lucky charm, and the real tai was so expensive that it could not easily be reached by ordinary people. At first he tried a different shape but failed. But it started to fly off the shelves as soon
as it was baked into tai shape. Here are two interesting stories.
There are two types of baking methods for TAIYAKI: one is to bake one TAIYAKI at a time with a single-baking mold, and the other is to bake many at a time with a multi-baking mold. Eager TAIYAKI fans compare this to real fish, and call the former TAIYAKI “wild caught” and the latter “cultured”. In addition, TAIYAKI was once a song. “Oyoge! Taiyaki-kun” was released in 1975 and became a record-breaking hit. The humorous
song, which was broadcast on a children’s TV program, sold over 4 million single records, supported by adults as well as children. Mostly, TAIYAKI shops are small. If you’re walking along the local shopping streets in Japan, you may f ind this little f ish in one corner. It’s little, but great when you’re hungry!