How To Cook Japanese Kamaboko: 30 Min Recipe

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  September 1, 2022

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Kamaboko is a type of Japanese fish cake that is made from white fish. It has a very smooth, delicate texture and a slightly sweet flavor.

You can find kamaboko in most Japanese grocery stores, but it’s really easy to prepare and so much tastier when made fresh, you can thank me later.

Let’s make the best Japanese fish cake ever!

Japanese Kamaboko Fish Cake Recipe

Japanese Kamaboko Fish Cake Recipe

Joost Nusselder
Japanese Kamaboko is delicious and soft but chewy and not too fishy. That's why we are going to make the traditional kind with white and red colors.
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Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 2 logs

Ingredients
  

  • 14 ounces pollock blue whiting or fresh white fish will do as well
  • 2 egg white
  • 2 tsp mirin
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp corn starch
  • pink food coloring

Instructions
 

  • First, kin and debone the fish and make sure to cut away any fatty meat. Then wash it in a colander a few times until the fishy smell has gone away.
  • Squeeze out excess water with your hands.
  • Now chop the fish into smaller pieces, then place them in a food processor.
  • Add egg white, sugar, salt, mirin, and cornstarch, and blend until you get a smooth fish paste.
  • Place half of the paste into a smaller bowl. Add several drops of pink food coloring and mix until the paste is pink or light red. Set aside.
  • Line your counter with plastic wrap and spread out the white paste in a rectangular shape. You can also use small silicone molds to push your paste into, the rectangular the better because you want to get the log shapes as much as possible.
  • Do the same with the red paste, so you have two logs.
  • Using the plastic wrap, start rolling the fish cake into a log shape, making sure to roll tightly. The roll shouldn't be too thin. Or push the fish paste out of your silicone molds to whatever shape the molds are.
  • Let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes so it can stiffen.
  • Grab a large pot and fill it about halfway with water, then bring it to a boil and place a steamer basket on top.
  • Now put the fish cake roll into the steamer and let it steam for 15 minutes.
  • Once ready, let it cool in ice water for 15 minutes .so the cake completely sets Then, remove the plastic wrap.
Keyword Kamaboko
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Cooking tips

Favorite Asian Recipes
Favorite Asian Recipes

The type of fish you use is really up to you. I usually use cod or haddock, but any white fish will work well.

1. Cut the fish into small pieces and place in a food processor.

2. Add all the other ingredients and pulse until everything is combined and the mixture is smooth.

3. You can also place the mixture in a piping bag and pipe it into small logs on a sheet of baking paper.

4. Freeze for 30 minutes if you don’t have ice water, then cut the kamaboko into slices and serve with soy sauce and pickled ginger (if desired).

How to serve and eat

Kamaboko is usually served as an appetizer or side dish, but it can also be used in soups and stews. Just slice of thin oval pieces that are the perfect bite and easy enough to pick up with your chopsticks.

It can be eaten on its own or with soy sauce and pickled ginger, but I like it best in my ramen.

Also read: these are the 10 best ramen fish cakes

Favorite ingredients

My favorite fish to use is pollock, but that’s not always available. You can use any white fish, even cheap tilapia will do in a pinch.

Remember, you’re going to get most of the fish taste out of it anyway so it only matters in terms of flavor a bit, and it’s mostly about the consistency of the meat.

If you’re going to be cooking with food coloring more often, I’d recommend this set from McCormick. It’s very cheap and works great. I like the pink color for this recipe as well and it’s the same price as most single pink colors out there:

McCormick food coloring

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My favorite mirin to use for fish cakes is just this cheap but effective Kikkoman Manjo Aji Mirin:

Kikkoman Manjo Aji Mirin

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Mirin substitute for kamaboko

If you can’t find mirin in time to make your dish, you can substitute that too. Just use a little sake and sugar, or if you don’t have that, dry white wine in the same amount would also work, but you would have to use 1/2 teaspoon of sugar to counterbalance the acidity.

How to store leftovers

Kamaboko will keep in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Make sure to wrap it tightly in cling film or place it in an airtight container to prevent it from drying out.

Conclusion

An easy, done-in-30-minutes kamaboko recipe that’ll have you leaving those pre-packaged ones at the store!

Also read: this is how to cook narutomaki ramen fish cake

Check out our new cookbook

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

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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.