Introduction: How to Make Creme Taiyaki (Custard Filled Waffle Fish)

After first landing in Japan, en route to my new home for the next 6 months I passed a small food stand selling a golden brown, fish shaped food. Even with the bus windows cracked open only slightly the sweet yet savory smell managed to fill the interior, leaving me craving for a taste of the peculiar looking treat. The next day I set out in search of this intriguing creation, returning to the area where I first saw the fabled fish pastry stand. When I arrived at the stand I was greeted with the choice of three different flavors: azuki (red bean) crème (custard), and goma (sesame). Being a fan of Belgian cream filled doughnuts I elected to go with the crème filled taiyaki. I bit in tail first, biting through the crispy, flaky fins I experienced a delicious burst of flavor from the lightly sweetened, cool yet warm, gelatinous custard. I ended up trying all the flavors within the first week, and it quickly became a favorite snack of mine during my time in Japan. My personal favorite being the crème filled taiyaki because I enjoyed the contrast of the smooth, sweet, cool filling with the warm and crispy pastry outside.

After returning stateside I wanted to share this experience with friends and family but to my disappointment I was unable to find it at any Japanese restaurants or food kiosks in my area. But after wandering through the aisles at Uwajimaya (Seattle area Asian grocery store) I came upon a taiyaki pan. Excited at opportunity of having freshly made taiyaki again I decided to purchase the pan and take a crack at making some taiyaki at home (I really don't cook much). I had to improvise a bit but the first few batches turned out great, granted they looked more like sea monsters, tasty custard filled sea monsters. After a few attempts I was able to perfect the recipe, making beautiful golden brown taiyaki consistently each and I decided to share my experiments in taiyaki creation with you here.

This is a pretty simple recipe that anyone should be able to make. Most of the tools and ingredients can be
found already in most kitchens. You can purchase the taiyaki pan online here or check your local Asian grocery store, mine ended up costing about $14 at the local store. This recipe yields about 6 to 8 taiyaki depending on the amount of batter used and the size of your mold and takes about 45 minutes to make the taiyaki with the custard filling. You can also make this treat with the more tradition red bean paste or experiment with other fillings, just skip to step 17 for the batter recipe and cooking instructions.

I hope you all enjoy this fun and tasty instructable!

Step 1: Ingredients You'll Need

This simple recipe can be made using most ingredients already found in your kitchen.

Ingredients for Custard Filling

  • 1 3/4 Cup of Milk
  • 4 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter
  • 4 Egg Yolks
  • 1/2 Cup of Sugar
  • 5 Tablespoons of Flour
  • 2 Tablespoons of Cornstarch
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 2 Teaspoons of Vanilla Extract

Ingredients for Batter

  • 2/3 Cup of Cake Flour (110g)
  • 2 Teaspoons of Baking Powder
  • 2 1/2 of Tablespoons of Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup of Milk (180ml)
  • 1 Egg
  • Vegetable Oil for Cooking

Step 2: Tools Used

For this recipe you will need the following tools:

  • Large Measuring Cup (2 Cups)
  • Large Bowl
  • Set of Measuring Cups
  • Set of Measuring Spoons
  • Wire Whisk
  • Wire Mesh Sieve (Optional)
  • Large Sauce Pan
  • Taiyaki Pan
  • Brush (You can also use a paper towel or cooking spray instead)

The wire mesh sieve helps to filter out chunks of batter and custard, ensuring a more even consistency, however If you do not have access to a sieve you can omit those steps.

The brush is used to spread a light layer of cooking oil on the pan. If you don't have a brush you can also use a paper towel or cooking spray to oil the pan.

Step 3: Making the Custard Filling

Gather the necessary ingredients for preparring the custard filling.

Ingredients for Custard Filling

  • 1 3/4 Cup of Milk
  • 4 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter
  • 4 Egg Yolks
  • 1/2 Cup of Sugar
  • 5 Tablespoons of Flour
  • 2 Tablespoons of Cornstarch
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 2 Teaspoons of Vanilla Extract

Step 4: Add the Butter to the Milk

Add 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter to the 1 3/4 cup of milk.

Step 5: Microwave the Milk and Butter for 3 Minutes

Heat the milk and butter mixture in a microwave for 3 minutes on full power. This will melt down the butter and scald the milk, which makes it easier to incorporate the rest of the ingredients. After microwaving the butter should be fully melted and the cup should be warm to the touch.

Step 6: Whisk the Egg Yolks

Add your 4 egg yolks to the large bowl and whisk them until they have a light and thin consistency.

Step 7: Add the Dry Ingredients to the Egg Yolks

Add 5 tablespoons of flour, 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, 1/2 cup of sugar, and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the bowl with egg yolks.

Step 8: Mix the Dry Ingredients With the Egg Yolks to Form a Thick Paste

Use a wire whisk to mix all the ingredients in the large bowl. The mixture should end up with a smooth, homogenous, paste-like texture. If it looks like scrambled eggs or has too many lumps it means you need to continue mixing the ingredients a little longer.

Step 9: Pour 1/3 of the Butter, Milk Mixture Into the Bowl and Mix

Pour in and incorporate one third of the butter and milk mixture into the bowl of ingredients. Mix the contents together until the paste has a consistent texture. The warm milk in this step will help loosen up the rest of the ingredients so that they can all get incorporated together.

Step 10: Slowly Add the Remaining Milk to the Bowl While Mixing

Slowly mix in the remaking milk to the mixture and continue stirring until the ingredients are fully blended.

Step 11: Place the Sieve Over the Sauce Pan and Pour the Custard Into the Pan

If you do not have access to a strainer you can skip this step.

Place the sieve over the saucepan and slowly pour in the custard through the sieve to remove any large clumps ensuring a smooth and consistent texture.

Step 12: Mix in the Vanilla Extract

Add the vanilla extract to the pan and blend it in.

Step 13: Place the Pan on Low Heat and Stir Continuously Until the Custard Thickens

Place the pan on low heat and stir continuously until the custard begins to thicken up, sticking to sides of the pan.

Step 14: Remove the Pan From Heat and Stir for an Additional Minute

After the custard has thickened remove the pan from the heat and continue to stir it for an additional minute.

Step 15: Empty the Custard Into a Container

Empty the custard into a bowl or tupperware.

Step 16: Cover and Refrigerate for 2 Hours

Cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator to chill for 2 hours. I used a glad ware container but you can also use plastic wrap to cover your bowl or container.

Step 17: Making the Batter

Gather the following items to prepare the batter:

Ingredients for Batter

  • 2/3 Cup of Cake Flour (110g)
  • 2 Teaspoons of Baking Powder
  • 2 1/2 of Tablespoons of Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup of Milk (180ml)
  • 1 Egg

Step 18: Mix the Dry Ingredients Together in a Bowl

Mix 2/3 cup flour, 2 1/2 tablespoons of sugar, and 2 teaspoons of baking powder together in a large bowl.

Step 19: Break the Egg and Beat It Until It Reaches a Smooth Consistency

Break the egg into a separate bowl and beat (mix) it until it reaches a frothy, smooth consistency.

Step 20: Pour the Beaten Egg Into the Milk and Mix

Pour the beaten egg into the 3/4 cup of milk and mix the ingredients together.

Step 21: Add the Milk and Egg Mixture to the Dry Ingredients and Blend

Add the milk and eggs to the large bowl of dry ingredients. Mix the ingredients together until the batter reaches a smooth, liquid constancy.

Step 22: Strain the Batter Into the Measuring Cup

Pour the batter through a wire mesh sieve back into the measuring cup. This will remove any large clumps from the batter and allow you to easily pour the contents into the mold.

If you don't have a sieve just pour the batter into an easy pour container.

Step 23: Preheat the Taiyaki Pan on Medium Heat

Place the taiyaki pan on medium heat and preheat both sides.

Step 24: Oil the Taiyaki Pan

These following steps have to be done quickly in succession to cook properly and avoid burning!

Use a brush or paper towel to spread a thin layer oil on both sides of the taiyaki pan. This will prevent the teriyaki from sticking to the pan and give it a nice golden crust.

Step 25: Pour a Small Amount of Batter Onto the Taiyaki Mold

Fill the taiyaki mold halfway with batter. Don't forget to fill the tail and fins.

Step 26: Add the Filling to the Taiyaki

Add approximately one and a half tablespoons of custard to the to taiyaki mold. Try to evenly disperse the filling between the head and mid tail sections if you can.

Optional: If you want to have more filling in your teriyaki you can scoop some of the batter out of the mold to create a cavity for more filling.

Step 27: Cover the Filling With Batter

Fill the rest of the fish mold with batter to cover the filling. Be careful not to add too much batter or it will make a mess.

Step 28: Close the Mold, Flip, and Cook for 30 Seconds on Medium-Low Heat

Close the taiyaki mold and flip it, cooking for 30 seconds on medium-low heat.

Step 29: Flip the Pan and Cook for an Additional 30 Seconds

Flip the pan and cook for another 30 seconds. Keep repeating this step until the taiyaki has cooked for about 3 to 4 minutes total. Gently lift the taiyaki pan and peek to see if the fish has turned a nice crisp golden brown on each side. The taiyaki should slip out of the mold easily when fully cooked. If the taiyaki is sticking to the pan or if it has not yet turned a golden brown then the taiyaki may need additional cooking time.

Step 30: Remove the Taiyaki From the Pan and Trim Off Any Sharp Edges

Carefully remove the taiyaki from the pan and onto a plate. If the taiyaki is sticking to the mold try using a chopstick or spatula to gently loosen the fish from the mold. Trim or gently tear off any rough excess edges from the fish.

Step 31: Plate Up and Enjoy!

Plate up the taiyaki and enjoy! I enjoy eating mine with a nice warm cup of green tea.

You can also try this recipe with other types of filling like sweet azuki (red bean) paste, chocolate, sesame paste, nutella, ham & cheese, chicken curry, and even sausage. Get creative and try making your own creations!