How to make the largest taiyaki fish-shaped sweet bean pancake in the world

How to make the largest taiyaki fish-shaped sweet bean pancake in the world

Not your ordinary tall fish tale.

The enduring charm of taiyaki – cakes shaped like sea bream (“tai” in Japanese) and filled with sweet bean paste or custard – is easy to understand for anyone who’s had the pleasure of trying one. And with such longevity comes the urge to try new things with the concept such as alternative flavors or designs.

But then there are some who just like to go big…real big. Your conventional taiyaki would just about fit in the palm of your hand, but the ones sold at the Maruko Pass Taikyaki Shop would be too big for your lap and weigh in at about 3.5 kilograms (7.7 pounds).

Our writer Maro paid a visit to this remote establishment, deep in the mountains west of Shizuoka City.

It’s a picturesque backdrop where you wouldn’t expect to find such a bold sign with an even bolder claim.

▼ “The World’s Biggest Taiyaki”

We’re not sure if this is officially the biggest taiyaki on the global market, but after taking a look at one of these 60-centimeter (24-inch) long monstrosities, we’re willing to take this shop at its word.

Maro struggled to lift the pastry which is said to consist of two kilos (4.4 pounds) of cake and 1.5 kilos (3.3 pounds) of sweet bean paste. It weighed about as much as a child-sized bowling ball.

One of these giant taiyaki are said to be equivalent to 30 regular ones which means it’s certainly not a single-person serving, even for our staff.

Some would probably look at such an absurdly big taiyaki and scoff, thinking that it must be unevenly cooked or crumble under its own weight. However, that’s not the case at all.

After biting and cutting into one Maro found that it was just as expertly prepared as a regular taiyaki. The cake was firm and even when taking a nibble of a corner her mouth was greeted with the sweet bean filling that was evenly spread right to the edges.

Such craftsmanship doesn’t come cheap though, and one of these gigantic cakes cost 4,000 yen (US$36). To see just how much work went into preparation, the owner of Maruko Pass Taiyaki Shop, Mr. Ikeda, kindly let Maro into the kitchen to join in on making one.

▼ Mr. Ikeda

When it comes to making taiyaki, the most important thing is the mold. A lot of shops will use a mold with multiple fish prints stamped into it. However, this comes with a reduction in detail, so this store gets theirs custom made in single plates so each scale of the sea bream comes out clearly.

The plates are also non-stick which means no butter or oil is needed and the taiyaki’s pure taste comes through. Because of this Maro could just get right into spreading the first layer of batter. It was a lot harder than she expected because of the size, until Mr. Ikeda advised her to think of it like a coloring book.

Once the batter hardened a bit, it was time for the sweet bean paste, and there was a lot of it!

▼ Thwump!

To ensure quality like we saw in the finished product earlier, Maro had to spread it all evenly and right to the edges of the fish’s silhouette.

Then another layer of batter was added on top and the cooking commenced. Mr. Ikeda took over from here because it takes a high degree of skill and experience to ensure the whole thing is grilled evenly and thoroughly.

For the next 30 minutes he constantly checked the surface for burning and adjusted the heat source until it was ready for the unveiling, which he did with a particular gusto.

▼ Ta-da!

It looked great, but gazing at the huge fish, Maro couldn’t help but wonder who actually buys something like this. Mr. Ikeda told her that it was popular for serving at family gatherings or during special occasions like graduations, much like how actual sea bream is traditionally enjoyed in Japan. He also said that he sells about 800 in a year and ships them all over Japan in a refrigerated state so that they keep during transport.

If you too decide to try one, make sure you have backup with you to help you eat and serve as witnesses, because no one’s ever going to believe you caught a fish that big.

Shop Information
Maruko Pass Taiyaki Shop / 丸子峠鯛焼き屋
Shizuoka-shi, Suruga-ku, Maruko 5787-1
Hours: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Closed Wednesdays unless its a national holiday in which case it’s closed on Thursday instead
Order information

Photos ©SoraNews24
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