Mornington Market

The sun was shining, the birds were singing, it could have been the start to a wonderful day. Then we realised there were no places in inner Melbourne that did good taiyaki (Japanese fish-shaped red bean paste-filled waffle). So began our quest to find taiyaki. We found imagawayaki instead. At the Mornington Racecourse Market, held every second sunday of the month. Mark those dates down in your planner so you don’t miss out on potentially fantastic day trip featuring imagawayaki. Click here for website.

Here are some of the things we saw at the market. It just so happens they’re mostly food related. (Or all of them food-related.)

Cute as a button/ More nonsense analogies/ Colourful cupcakes

Buy some rock candy/ Can't believe it's sugar-free/ Tastes like normal sweet

They do a great sugarless candy range.

Are those free samples?/ In chocolate and butterscotch/ That's some good pudding

The pudding is great, especially the butterscotch pudding with butterscotch sauce. Most butterscotch sauces just taste like sugar, but this one tastes like butterscotch.

Bottles of sauces/ Bottled sauce is like cheating/ Either way, you win

Lots of preserves, sauces and jams are available at the Mornington market. We got a jar of jerk chicken paste from Elfred’s. Once that is used, I will hopefully get pictures up.

Hello star anise/ Dip bread in oil, then spice/ Good for cooking too

Spice mixes are also popular. Bush tomatoes are zingy.

Real lemonade stand/ Will they give me counselling?/ Flashback to Peanuts

It's shaken, not stirred/ The way to have lemonade/ Unlike martini

Ice-cold lemonade shaken, then poured. Tasty!

Calamari cone/ What's that? You want to be nommed?/ Om nomnom nomnom

Fantastic calamari. Rings of squid coated in a light batter, then fried until it is just cooked. Sometimes calamari can be cooked for to long and become rubbery. It isn’t over salted or peppered. The only qualms I have with it is the lack of oil drainage. But this store sells its calamari cones very quickly so there probably wasn’t enough time to drain it. The balsa wood chopsticks are also prone to splintering. But it does allow you to reach the calamari at the bottom of the cone easily.

Onto paella!

Mega paella/ Pan seems too deep to do job/ No rice crust bottom

Not quite right rice dish/ Missing roasted capsicum/ Missing soffrito

Prawns can be tasty/ But not when they are recooked/ Wish I got some crab

The paella was disappointing. Some of the rice is undercooked, especially the grains lodged inside the mussel shell, and there is no socarrat layer at the bottom. Soccarat is the toasty rice layer of the paella, and develops in a good paella. It’s only formed when the bottom of the paella pan is exposed to a high flame. On the up side, there seems to be a fair portion of seafood. There was a chicken wing, a mussel, some pipis and a prawn. Back to the downside, the chicken wing was average, it seemed to have been boiled so the charred/pan-fried taste isn’t there. The mussel and pipis weren’t bad. The prawn was precooked then cooked again, and overly salty.

A lamb souvlaki/ Lo and behold, a magpie/ Magpies eye your food

Chicken souvlaki/ Bread indicates quality/ That's some good bread there

To the item we’ve been waiting for: Imagawayaki!

Imagawayaki is a Japanese dessert found at festivals. It’s similar to taiyaki, a fish-shaped red bena paste-filled waffle. Instead of being more waffle-like, it is more similar to cake. Imagawayaki is also eaten in Taiwan (where’s it’s called wheel-cake/biscuit or red bean cake/biscuit. ‘Cake-biscuit’ being ‘bing’ in Chinese. Usually ‘bing’ is translated as biscuit, but I find it to be more similar to cake. To me, biscuits are flat and crunchy or hard. Red bean bing look like a hockey puck, but made of cake.) Red bean paste is the traditional filling for these cakes, but nowadays any sweet soft filling such as custard or flavoured pastes are also popular.

Imagawayaki (now shortened into imas) are made using a grill with depressions for the halves to cook in. Each side is grilled separately, combined together, then the batter in the middle is allowed to cook in order to fuse the two halves together. Refer to pictures for more detail/feast for the eyes/food porn:

The batter is fairly thick, but still pourable. In that jug is matcha (japanese green tea powder) batter. There was also vanilla and chocolate batter.

Pourable batter/ Best stored in a jug, not piped/ Less fiddling around

See the two rows of batter-filled depressions? Those are for the 2 halves of the cake. The row closest to the lady is fuller than the top row. These cakes will be on the bottom and have more heat from the grill to cook them. The further row will be the half that goes on top, receiving less heat. Therefore the top half needs to be more cooked than the bottom half.

Aaah! Overspillage/ Mini tongs for nifty work/ Fixes the problem

The top halves were just placed on top the bottom halves. The leftover liquidy congealing batter on the top halves are swivelled around to get the concealing batter onto the edges. When the top half is flipped onto the bottom half, the congealing batter on the edges seal over with the bottom half, sealing the filling inside the cake rather than being a custard sandwich. Sometimes the batter spills over the sides of the grill, but that’s easily fixed with a pair of mini tongs by pushing the batter back onto the edges of the imagawayaki.

A can-do gesture/ Time for some ima flipping/Thumbs up for good job

I love this picture. I don’t think it was an intentional thumbs-up either. It just looks like a thumbs-up from the angle and timing.

Imas go in bag/ To be consumed very soon/ Grabby hands are go

Imagawayaki. Serious business til the end

Onwards to tasting!

We ate these minutes after they came off the grill. (Those few minutes were spent looking for a surface to place the imagawayaki on, and photographing.)The crust is crunchy, and the inside is soft and fluffy without being floury. But it’s not only sponge-cake-like, but also moist with a pudding-like texture from the filling melding with the just-cooked batter. It’s not too sweet either. They’re warm, and smell like freshly baked goods. What else could I want?

On second thought, these look fantastic too. But those are in Los Angeles, USA. For a different sort of imagawayaki.

Classic vanilla/ The imagawayaki/ Has such a long name

Custard is smooth and has a light flavour, with little sugar. It offers the smooth creaminess while the batter offers the sweetness.

A choc-chip cookie/Not a cookie nor has chips/ A fabrication

Chocolate custard doesn’t have a very chocolatey flavour, but I suspect that might be too heavy for the batter, so I ejoyed the diluted chocolatey-ness.

Double chocolate/ Add chips for triple choc'late/ What makes quadruple?

Chocolate batter tastes like it relies only on cocoa, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The chocolate batter with chocolate custard definately reminds me of self-saucing chocolate pudding. It’s what got me thinking for words to describe the texture. Those words are pudding and fudge.

Filling has melted/ But that has its own charm points/ Warm custard for all

Double Japanese/ Matcha powder and red bean/ Do your flavour math

Sweeter green tea flavour than many matcha-favoured biscuits and candies, more like matcha sponge cakes. Sometimes I find matcha flavouring to be too subtle and gets lost with sugar and other flavourings, but I could taste the matcha flavouring in these imgawayaki. Score! The red bean paste is smooth, with some crushed beans for texture.

Despite the rain and cold, Mornington market was worth the trip just for the calamari and imagawayaki alone. Mornington market daytrip was a success!

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