Otoshimi: The Fish Paste With The Strong Taste

We may earn a commission on qualified purchases made through one of our links. Learn more

People in many Asian countries love eating seafood, and it’s available in large quantities. It’s therefore no surprise that countries like Japan have found a way to use its protein in various ways.

One of those ways is to create a protein-rich fish paste that can be the basis for a lot of fish cake and stick products.

Otoshimi is a type of surimi, a paste made from fish. It’s often used as a sushi filling or topping. It’s a specialty product used by sushi chefs and known for its unique flavor and texture.

Let’s look at what Otoshimi is, how it’s made, and how it’s used. Plus, I’ll share some Otoshimi recipes so you can try it for yourself.

What is otoshimi

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

OTOSHIMI Surimi: The Fishy Minced Paste You Need to Know About

  • Otoshimi surimi is a type of surimi that is made from fish paste.
  • The production process involves washing and crushing fish meat, then adding a solution of salt and water to create a paste.
  • The paste is then washed repeatedly to remove any unwanted flavors and odors, leaving behind a neutral-tasting base that can be flavored and shaped into various forms.


  • Otoshimi surimi is commonly used as a substitute for crab meat in dishes like California rolls and crab cakes.
  • It can also be used as a base for other seafood dishes, such as shrimp and scallop imitation products.
  • Otoshimi surimi is a versatile ingredient that can be flavored with a variety of seasonings and spices to create unique and delicious dishes.

Specialist Knowledge

  • Otoshimi surimi is a specialty product that is often used by professional chefs and sushi makers.
  • It is important to use high-quality otoshimi surimi to ensure the best flavor and texture in your dishes.
  • Some specialist suppliers offer a range of otoshimi surimi products, including different fish varieties and flavorings.

The History of Otoshimi: From Hokkaido to the World

  • Otoshimi, a type of fish paste, has its roots in Japan, specifically in the northern region of Hokkaido.
  • The history of otoshimi began in the early to mid-20th century when the industry developed in Hokkaido.
  • At first, otoshimi was only consumed locally, but it soon played an important role in the Japanese market and was sold to other countries.

Manufacture and Process

  • The method of making otoshimi involves a process similar to surimi, where fish is processed into a paste or gel.
  • Proteolytic enzymes are added to the fish paste, digesting the fish’s proteins and forming a sticky and elastic texture.
  • Other types of pastes, such as vegetable or animal pastes, can also be applied to the process to create different types of otoshimi.

Development and Industry

  • Otoshimi was first sold in the United States in the 1960s, where it was marketed as a cheaper alternative to crab meat.
  • The industry continued to grow, and companies developed machines for freezing and forming the paste into various shapes and sizes.
  • Otoshimi’s capability to be processed into different forms, such as balls or thick soup, made it a versatile ingredient in Japanese cuisine and beyond.
  • The earliest record of fish paste consumption dates back to the Fujian province in China, where it was used in the production of fish balls.

Processed Otoshimi and Post-War Development

  • Prior to World War II, otoshimi was primarily a local product in Hokkaido, but after the war, the industry expanded and developed.
  • The use of machines for freezing and forming the paste had a significant effect on the finished product’s quality and capability.
  • Processed otoshimi, such as hanpen, became popular in Japan and other countries, including the United States and Alaska, where native communities used it as a staple food source from the seas.

The East and Beyond

  • Otoshimi’s development and popularity in Japan and other parts of the world have played an important role in the food industry.
  • Today, otoshimi is used in a variety of dishes, from sushi to fish cakes, and continues to be a staple in Japanese cuisine and beyond.

What’s the Deal with Otoshimi and Surimi?

If you’re a fan of Japanese cuisine, you’ve probably encountered the words “surimi” and “otoshimi” before. While both refer to a type of seafood product, there are some key differences between the two.

  • Surimi is a paste made from fish or crab meat that has been soaked in water and additives to create a high-protein, low-fat product that can be used as a base for a variety of recipes.
  • Otoshimi, on the other hand, is a unique type of surimi that is steamed and formed into sticks or cakes. It is generally made with white fish and egg and has a fresh, salty flavor that many people love.

The Benefits of Otoshimi

So, what makes otoshimi different from other types of surimi? Here are a few of the benefits:

  • It is a healthy, low-fat protein source that can be used in a variety of recipes.
  • It has a unique flavor and texture that sets it apart from other types of seafood products.
  • It is produced using fresh, high-quality ingredients, which makes it a great choice for people who are looking for a healthy, natural food option.

Cooking with Otoshimi

If you’re new to otoshimi, you might be wondering how to use it in your cooking. Here are a few ideas:

  • Use it as a base for sushi rolls or other Japanese-inspired dishes.
  • Try it in a stir-fry or noodle dish for an extra bit of protein.
  • Use it in a hearty soup or stew to add some heartiness and flavor.
  • Form it into patties and serve it on a bun for a healthy, protein-packed burger.

Where to Find Otoshimi

Otoshimi is becoming increasingly popular in Asia and other parts of the world, so it’s likely that you’ll encounter it at your local grocery store or Asian market. You can also find recipes and meal planning ideas online, or in cookbooks that focus on Japanese cuisine.

Otoshimi vs surimi

Both otoshimi and surimi are fish pastes but surimi is the more well-known of the two. Surimi is a type of otoshimi where the whitefish is cleaned and rinsed with water so much, it has become odor- and flavorless. Otoshimi is the same ground lean fish meat without being rinsed.

So surimi is a type of otoshimi. It is known around the world because of the imitation crab sticks that are made from it as a base product.

The flavorless protein substance can easily take on any flavor that’s added to the base paste, like fish sauce for kamaboko or crab extract for kanikama, also known as “surimi sticks.”


Otoshimi is a type of Japanese food made from fish or other sea creatures. It’s a great way to get some protein and has a unique flavor and texture. It’s a great way to add some variety to your cooking. So, if you’re looking for a new food to try, Otoshimi might be just the thing you’re looking for!

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.