Not everyone agrees about certain Japanese foods – but oyaki is a consensus!
This half-steamed, half-fried filled bread is the best snack, and it certainly keeps your body warm in the cold Japanese winter.
I know what you must think: the winter in Japan is not that cold. After all, it’s only around 0-5 degrees in Kyoto on the coldest days. But it’s not only the temperature; it’s the high humidity, gloomy weather, and very little (if any) insulation in Japanese houses that makes it feel like it’s always freezing. It’s on cold days like these that hot comfort food is absolutely essential.
For example, there’s the famous yaki-imo, the steamed sweet potato. I will never forget the first time I saw it sold from a small van driving slowly in the streets of my neighborhood. They sell it in a paper bag, just like a pastry. You can definitely make yaki-imo at home: just steam a whole sweet potato and enjoy the taste!
And now, after mentioning yaki-imo, it’s time to learn about a delicious local snack, originally from Nagano Prefecture – the oyaki!
The oyaki comes with different fillings and it can be either savory or sweet. The sweet filling will usually be sweet red beans, and there is a variety of savory flavors. It’s definitely something you can play with and add your favorite filling. My favorite is eggplant – so let’s go ahead and learn how to do it!
Prep time: 45 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
Serving: 12 oyaki
Does it keep?: Around 3 days (it becomes fairly dry after)
- 2.5 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 tsp grapeseed oil
- ¼ tsp salt
- 4 medium size long eggplants
- 2 tbsp miso paste
- 1-2 tbsp coconut sugar (depending on your preference)
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- Neutral-flavored oil for frying
- In a large bowl combine the flour and salt.
- Add the oil and mix together.
- Gradually add the water while continually mixing. I find it convenient to mix with chopsticks before I start kneading. Please note: you might not need to add all the water.
- After thoroughly mixing the dough for 3-4 minutes, shape it into a ball, then cover and let it rest for 30 minutes.
- Cut the eggplants in half lengthways, then cut them into 0.5cm slices (you can see how I cut it in the pictures and on my IGTV video), and soak in water for 5-10 minutes. Then strain well.
- Heat 3-4 tbsp of oil (I used grapeseed oil) in a frying pan. When the oil is hot, add the eggplants, cover the pan, and fry on medium heat. Stir occasionally. It will take around 10 minutes for the eggplants to soften completely.
- Lower the heat, add the coconut sugar, and mix.
- Turn off the heat, add the miso paste, and mix.
- Then add the sesame seeds and mix again.
- Let the eggplant filling cool down to room temperature.
Making the oyaki
- Roll the dough into a cylinder and cut it into 12 even pieces.
- Using your hands, flatten each piece into a circle with a diameter of around 10 cm. The center of the circle should be slightly thicker than the edges.
- Add a heaped tablespoon of the eggplant filling to the middle and seal the dough. I like the closing method I show in the pictures and IGTV, but you can find other methods if you search YouTube.
Frying the oyaki
- Heat a thin layer of neutral-flavored oil in a frying pan (here too, I used grapeseed oil). When the oil is hot, reduce to a medium heat and place the oyaki in the pan with the smooth side facing up. Make sure they don’t touch each other.
- Cover the pan and fry for around 5 minutes. The oyaki should be golden on the bottom.
- After 5 minutes, flip them over, add ¼ cup of water, and cover the pan immediately.
- After another 5 minutes, or when the water has evaporated, the oyaki are ready!
Serve, eat, and enjoy!