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3 Best Kamaboko Substitutes for Fish Cake Fans

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  September 1, 2022

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If you love kamaboko (fish cake), but if you can’t find it where you live, never fear! There are plenty of substitutes that will give you the same delicious flavor.

Whether you’re looking for something similar to kamaboko or just want a new recipe to try, these substitutes will not disappoint. They’re all easy to make and taste great!

Best kamaboko substitutes

The best kamaboko substitute are surimi sticks or “imitation crab”, they come closest to the texture and flavor of the fish cakes. White fish or fish sauce can do as well in a pinch, but each has its pros and cons.

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What does kamaboko taste like?

Kamaboko is a type of processed seafood made from white fish that is popular in East Asia. It is often described as a cross between fish cake and spam, and has a unique pink color.

It is soft, but also has a slightly chewy texture.

If you’ve never tried kamaboko before, it’s definitely worth a try! However, if you can’t find it in your area, don’t worry – there are plenty of substitutes that will give you the same delicious flavor.

While it is delicious, it can be expensive and difficult to find in some parts of the world.

So, here are some of the best kamaboko substitutes you can find!

Best kamaboko substitutes

Surimi imitation crab sticks

Surimi sticks actually are a type of kamaboko since both are made with surimi (the tasteless fish paste used as a base to make all kinds of kamaboko).

The flavor of imitation crab is a little fishier than most kamaboko, so be careful with how mush you add and how big you make each bite. It can quickly become overpowering.

Every kamaboko comes with its own set of seasonings and flavors and crab sticks are made to taste like crab meat.

Still, it is the best substitute since it has most of the same texture and flavors.

Also read: can you freeze kamaboko so you can keep it fresh longer?

White fish

If you’re making hot pots or stews, then adding white fish to it will give it that extra fish flavor. Again, it’s a lot fishier than kamaboko.

Kamaboko is made from white fish, but when made into the paste it’s been washed several times so the fishy taste is almost completely gone.

Adding a little less fresh white fish in your dish will give it that extra kick in the tastebuds and adds a healthy source of protein to boot.

Fish sauce

Leave out the kamaboko or any other type of fish or paste and add a little fish sauce. This will give it that umami flavor and make your dish more savory.

A little goes a long way with fish sauce, so start with less than you think you need. You can always add more, but you can’t remove it once it’s been added.

Best kamaboko to buy

Maybe you don’t need the kamaboko or its substitute right this second, or for your dish tonight. That way, you still have some time to order some and have it at home in time for when you want to make your recipe.

I’d like to share the brand I always use, and I keep some in the freezer all of the time.

If you’re looking for a great kamaboko to try, I like this Yamasa log because it has the perfect chewiness and amazing pink coloring:

Yamasa kamaboko

(view more images)

Conclusion

These are the three best substitutes for kamaboko. I wish I had more for you but there really aren’t a lot of options to swap out this unique and delicious ingredient.

Also read: here’s how to cook your own kamaboko so you’ll never run out

Check out our new cookbook

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

Try it out for free with Kindle Unlimited:

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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.