Kamaboko, also known as fish cakes, is a common dish in Japan. Kamaboko can be enjoyed on its own or can complement many other meals, and the fish cakes are often used for celebratory purposes in Japan.

Kamaboko, also known as fish cakes,  is a common food in Japan but not so much in the US. At the moment, it is mainly found in Asian supermarkets, but can also be ordered online at Japan Super. However, if you’ve ever had imitation crab meat, such as the crab sticks used in many sushi restaurants, then you’ve had something very similar to Kamaboko.

What Is It?

Surimi is the main ingredients to create imitation crab as well as imitation lobster. The word surimi means ground meat in Japan.  It refers to fish that has been minced, rinsed and made into a paste. Imitation crab and lobster are the mixture of surimi and additional ingredients such as vegetable oil, egg whites, salt, seasonings, and soy protein.

Kamaboko is also made from surimi, though some of the additional ingredients may differ slightly. Fish sauce and sake are often the key ingredients for the flavor. The final product typically looks like a cylindrical white mass, though it can be produced in many different shapes.

How Do You Prepare Kamaboko?

You can eat it on its own, or eat it with drops of soy sauce. You can also slice it and add to soups, salads, casseroles, noodles, and many other dishes. What’s better, you can fry it with a bit of seaweed to make a delicious tempura!

Dark and light soy sauce? What's the difference?

Is Kamaboko Healthy?

Yes and no. Depending upon the manufacturer, kamaboko may contain ingredients such as MSG. Other manufacturers produce theirs only from the highest quality fish, with no additives or preservatives.

High-quality kamaboko will contain as much protein as eggs, as well as many healthy nutrients. It will also be low in fat and calories. However, it may be high in sodium, so if you are purchasing one, you will want to check the ingredients to ensure you are making a health-conscious choice.

Interesting Facts About Kamaboko

Kamaboko has a rich history in Japan, and even has a museum dedicated to it. November 16th also happens to be National Kamaboko day in Japan as well.

In Japan, when there’s a celebration, you will find the kamaboko on a dining table, usually in red (more like pink) and white as those colors are Japan’s celebratory color. So, there’s no surprise that the dish is one of the traditional and common food items during New Year’s celebration meals.

Why not try it to celebrate your next special occasion?

Learn the symbolism of osechi ryori here.