Updated: April 17, 2018
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Imagawayaki (今川焼き): Recipe and All You Need To Know About This Edo Era Japanese Street Dessert!

Imagawayaki is a type of Japanese dessert made of a pancake-like coating and an adzuki sweet bean filling. You'll find in this article the explanation of what it is, where to find it in Tokyo and even a recipe for you to try at home!

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What Is Imagawayaki?

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Imagawayaki is a Japanese dessert that is also called Ooban yaki (大判焼き) or Kaiten Yaki (回転焼き). The name depends on the region, but as it is a "wagashi" (和菓子, Japanese traditional) dessert that started selling during the Edo period, the original name is Imagawayaki. It is a dessert that the outer layer is like a pancake and the inside is filled with sweet red beans (azuki). Nowadays, they also have custard, chocolate, and many other flavors. It's very similar to the also very popular "taiyaki", which is a very similar traditional dessert, made in the same way, with essentially the same ingredients, the main difference is that the taiyaki is shaped like a fish.

How Is It Made?

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First, the imagawayaki batter is made from flour, eggs, and water, so in this sense it is very similar to a pancake without the use of milk. The batter then is poured into each circle on the iron imagawayaki maker.
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Once the batter is heated for a while, the fillings such as azuki beans are carefully topped onto the batter.
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Then, two of the circular pancakes are combined together. Once the two are combined, the imagawayaki maker folds over and the batter is heated up again until it is cooked enough for the two parts to be sealed together.

Where Can You Find Imagawayaki?

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This old-fashioned and retro dessert can be found in many places. In supermarkets, you can find some that are frozen, so you can warm it up at home and preserve it for many days. You can also find it as a roten stores (outdoor stands) in matsuri and festivals. Or there are also some stores that specialize in selling freshly baked Imagawayaki throughout the year. Here are a few in Tokyo!

Tsukishimaya (月島家)

Tsukishimaya is located 5 minutes away from Azabu-Juban station. It is a long-run store and the store owners are an old married couple who have been making Imagawayaki for years. One Imagawayaki is only ¥140 and it is best to first try the most orthodox azuki taste.

Ansha Hiyoko (餡舎ひよ子)

Anya Hiyoko is located inside Ecute in Ueno station. It is an Imagawayaki stand that is created by the famous Japanese dessert store "Hiyoko." As Ueno is famous for the pandas in the Ueno zoo, each Imagawayaki is stamped with a panda, so it also looks very cute! They have flavors such as azuki, matcha, and custard cream and each one is around ¥120~¥150.

Refutei (れふ亭)

Refutei is located 1 minute away from Nakano station. There is always a long line of people waiting to buy Imagawayaki from this store. They have the traditional azuki, but they also have white azuki, azuki with mochi (rice cake), potato filling, chocolate cream, custard, cream cheese and even sausage mayonnaise flavor! Each Imagawayaki is around ¥120~¥150 and you can enjoy from traditional to more modern tastes of Imagawayaki!

Azukiya Ando (あずきや 安堂)

Azukiya Ando is a 5 minute walk from Chofu station. They especially put effort in making their azuki using the red beans transported from Hokkaido. The outer layer is soft like a pancake and matches perfectly with the fillings. As they are famous for their azuki, I would recommend the traditional azuki flavor, but they also have custard cream, white beans and green beans flavor too!

Make Them at Home! Imagawayaki Recipe

Here's how to make imagawayakis at home! Assuming you don't have the imagawayaki maker, this is a version that you can make in a frying pan. As a filling, you can use custard.

Custard Cream

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First, you make your custard cream.

INGREDIENTS

15g of cornstarch
50g of sugar
1 egg
170ml of milk
2-3 drops of vanilla essence

STEPS

Step 1: Whisk the egg first then add the milk and stir some more.
Step 2: In a separate bowl mix the cornstarch and sugar together, then gradually mix in the egg and milk substance.
Step 3: Heat the resulting batter in the microwave for about 2 minutes, stopping a few times if needed to make sure that the custard doesn't overcook. You can also do this in a saucepan.
Step 4 Add the vanilla extract and you have your filling.
Note that anko, a kind of sweet adzuki beans paste, is the more traditional filling but it might be more complicated for you do do. If you want to try to make it, please refer to this recipe.

Batter

For the batter, you will need the following.

INGREDIENTS

100g of weak flour
20g of sugar
5g of baking powder
1 egg
50ml of water
10g of butter

Step 1: Mix well together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder)
Step 2: In a separate bowl beat the egg then add the water to it
Step 3: Gradually add the egg and water substance to the dry ingredients. Be careful not to mix too thoroughly as the batter will not rise as well.
Step 4: Grease a frying pan and pour some batter into it in two separate places. Add the custard (or anko) filling in the middle of one pancake soon after you have poured the batter into the pan and while the batter is still uncooked.
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When the pancakes look like this, it is the proper timing to add the custard and sandwich them together.
Step 5: Wait for a little for one side of the pancakes to be cooked while the upside has just started have a firmer consistency. At that point, simply sandwich the two pancakes together, joining the two half-backed surfaces together. Wait a short while for them to fuse, then flip you imagawayaki on the other side. Cook for a few more seconds and you are done!
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Try to make yours similar to these ones made with the imagawayaki iron plate maker. You might not get the perfect shape, but the taste should be very close. Enjoy!

Lastly...

I hope you were able to learn what Imagawayaki is from this article. If you are curious in what this dessert tastes like, visit these Imagawayaki stands to enjoy some freshly baked Imagawayaki!
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I love eating good food and discovering new places to eat. I hope to share with all of you some of the places that I recommend!

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