Thursday, July 2, 2009
Dorayaki is one of the most accessible of Japanese sweet snacks. Dora means "gong" in Japanese, so the name of this sweet probably comes from its shape. If you are a fan of Japanese TV anime, you, along with every Japanese child who grew up between 1970 and 2005, know that dorayaki is the favorite treat of Doraemon, the cat-shaped robot from the future. In Japan, dorayaki is inexpensive and vendors can be found everywhere. But it is easy enough to make at home. Essentially, it consists of two small pancakes stuck together with a filling of sweet bean paste (an), but there are endless variations. Here is a recipe I use for basic dorayaki. It makes enough for 6~8 pairs of pancakes that are approximately 4 inches in diameter:
fresh eggs, 2 large
sugar, 2/3 cup
honey, 1 tablespoon
mirin, 1 tablespoon
baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon
flour, 1 &1/2 cup
water, 5 tablespoons
commercially sold sweet bean paste (an)
Whisk the eggs and sugar together till blended. Add honey and mirin and whisk some more. Sift together the baking soda and flour, then gradually add to the rest of the ingredients in about three batches, stirring gently with a spatula or wooden spoon till mixed. Add the water last, one tablespoon at at time.
Spoon the batter onto a heated, lightly oiled hotplate or frying pan. Don't crowd the pan. Cook the pancakes over medium heat until the top surface is covered with bubbles and the edges get dry-looking (about 2 minutes). Turn the pancake over and let cook for 1 minute longer. Remove cooked pancakes to plate and keep making pancakes till the batter is used up. The honey and mirin in the batter makes the pancake turn dark brown where it touches the pan, but that is normal. Be careful not to overcook it though. It will get tough.
When the pancakes are cooled, spread bean paste over the rough side of one pancake and cover it with another so that the smooth glossy side of the pancake is facing out. Although in a pinch, you could use ordinary pancake batter for dorayaki, it won't taste the same.
Variations: (1) Add things to the pancake batter. I've succeeded with powdered yomogi (mugwort), crushed green tea leaves, and dried ume (pickled plum) granules. Coarser additions, like chopped walnuts, make it difficult to make an even pancake. (2) Save the coarser ingredients for adding to the filling. Besides walnuts, chopped sweet chestnuts make a tasty addition to the an filling. So do some fruits like strawberries and cherries (sweet&sour goes well with an), or chopped candied citrus peel (sweet&bitter goes well with an too).
Serve this sweet snack with strong green tea.