10 Best Fish Cakes For Ramen: From Soft And Squishy To Fried

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  September 1, 2022

17 easy recipes anyone can make...

All the tips you'll need to get started in Japanese cooking with, FOR A LIMITED TIME, FREE as our first email: the complete Japanese with ease cookbook.

We'll only use your email address for our newsletter and respect your privacy

I love creating free content full of tips for my readers, you. I don't accept paid sponsorships, my opinion is my own, but if you find my recommendations helpful and you end up buying something you like through one of my links, I could earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

Try it out for free with Kindle Unlimited:

Read for free

What are the fish cakes (or kamaboko) in ramen called?

Narutomaki is the most popular type of fish cake you can put in your ramen. They look swirly and delicious and have a great chewy texture.

But they aren’t the only game in town so let’s look at the top choices!

10 types of japanese fish cakes
Favorite Asian Recipes
Favorite Asian Recipes

If you want an authentic taste, this Ono narutomaki log is a great choice:

Ono narutomaki

(view more images)

Best ramen fish cakes

Red kamaboko

Red kamaboko fishcake

This Japanese fish cake is one of the most famous. It’s enjoyed with soups like ramen noodles and soba.

Even though it’s called “red”, it actually is more pink than red.

This kind of kamaboko is steamed on a little wood board. It often comes together with white kamaboko, often even in the same roll.

White kamaboko

White japanese kamaboko fish cake

This fish cake is second in popularity to red kamaboko.

It’s all white in color and is steamed. The outer part of the tube-shaped fish cake is broiled to give that brilliant dark colored look on the outside.

Also read: anchovy sauce vs fish sauce: are they the same?

Kani kamaboko

Kani kamaboko imitation crab surimi

This Japanese fish cake is famously referred to as imitation crab. But it’s actually made of white fish and prepared with the fluids of crabs!

Kani kamaboko is prominently used in westernized sushi, such as a filling in California sushi rolls.

It is a type of Japanese fish cake. It is made from surimi, or ground fish meat, and shaped into various forms. Kamaboko is a versatile ingredient in soups, stews, noodle dishes, and more.

There are many different brands and varieties of kanikama available, so you can choose the one that best suits your taste, it’s a delicious and nutritious way to add some variety to your meals.

Naruto kamaboko

naruto kamaboko fish cakes

Naruto kamaboko is famous for its lovely pink and white spirals and twirls, and its outer curved edges.

When narutomaki is cut, it makes a colorful addition that adds to the presentation of any dish.

Narutomaki is frequently utilized as a garnish in soup for ramen noodles or sushi.

The most popular variety of naruto kamaboko features a pink spiral on top, which is meant to resemble the whirlpools found in the Naruto Strait.

Sasa kamaboko

Sasa kamaboko grilled fishcakes

Sasa kamaboko is the Miyagi region’s claim to fame! It’s normally appreciated on its own.

The fish cakes are molded like the leaves of bamboo and are frequently served toasted to give a warm cooked flavor.

They can be a chewy addition to your ramen while still given a bit of bite from the grilling.

Konbumaki kamaboko

Japanese new year konbumaki kamaboko

These are fresh cakes that have an extremely thin layer of kelp inside. To make this extravagant structure, the fish cake blend is moved with the kelp to make a swirl when the fish cake is sliced.

This sort of konbumaki fish cake is marginally more expensive than red or white fish cake and is regularly served during special events like New Year as a major aspect of the osechi ryori feast.

You can eat it anytime you want though, and the kelp makes it a great flavor to add to your ramen, especially when you don’t have any nori or wakame to add to the soup.

Decorated kamaboko

decorated kamaboko

This is a steamed cylindrical-shaped fish cake. When it’s cut open, a beautiful pattern emerges with, for example, trees, blossoms, many-sided kanji, or other creative art.

Special kamaboko is frequently served as part of Japanese New Year’s food.

It’s just a joy to see, but you won’t normally find these in your ramen.

Chikuwa

Chikuwa kamaboko fish cake

This is a flame-broiled fish cake with a grilled taste to it.

It’s molded into a long, tube-shaped cylinder that’s hollow inside. Chikuwa is frequently added to Japanese stew (namely oden) and is used as a topping in dishes.

It’s usually found in other types of Japanese soups along with a load of other fish cakes to make it a complete meal, but it’s also great in your ramen.

Chikuwa grilled fish cake

Hanpen

Fluffy or fried Japanese Hanpen fish cake

Hanpen is a white, triangular fish cake that’s a blend of white fish and Nagaimo Japanese mountain yam, making it lighter and fluffier.

What makes the remarkable fleecy surface of hanpen? This fish cake is boiled rather than steamed! It’s also often fried (after already being pre-prepared and boiled) to be served as a side dish.

Hanpen can also be square or even round in shape and may incorporate added seasoning to change its flavor, like ginger or shiso perilla leaf.

I would either add the fluffy version to your ramen, or use the fried version as a side-dish to eat alongside the ramen, otherwise you’ll loose the crispy texture.

Satsuma-age

Satsuma age japanese deep-fried fish cakes

Satsuma-age is enjoyed in the southern part of Japan. It’s a plain cake made with white fish, or it’s blended with different ingredients; for example, vegetables or fish to make various kinds of cakes.

The deep-fried fish cake is regularly added to pan-fried food, hot noodles, and Japanese stew.

Not a regular in ramen, but you can add it and it will be delicious. Because it’s deep-fried for a long time you can safely add it to your broth and it will still be crispy.

Also read: can you freeze leftover kamaboko fish cakes?

Fish cake in ramen

Ramen is a Japanese dish that’s Chinese wheat noodles served in a meat or fish-based broth, often enhanced with sauce or miso, and other ingredients; for example, cut pork, nori, menma, and scallions.

Narutomaki is a kind of fish cake that’s an exemplary addition to ramen. So when you think of fish cake ramen, it’s probably this type!

Also read: this recipe is how you make naruto ramen fish cakes yourself

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

Try it out for free with Kindle Unlimited:

Read for free

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.