What is a fish cake in Japanese? 10 types of “Kamaboko”

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  September 7, 2020
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A fishcake is an Asian dish made up of fish and other seafood. It is crushed, minced, and mixed with flavors and starchy food and then fried and the Japanese call it “Kamaboko“.

Generally, fishcakes utilize codfish as a filling but because of the scarcity of codfish, haddock or whitefish are now utilized as a replacement.

Other types of fish such as sleek fish and salmon are also used for an extraordinary taste.

10 types of japanese fish cakes

These are arranged without breadcrumbs or hitter and are made with a blend of cooked fish, potatoes and often eggs framed into patties or sometimes fried.

As fish has primarily been a significant dietary part of individuals living close to oceans, streams, and lakes, numerous local categories of fishcake have emerged.

Varieties can rely upon what sort of fish is utilized, how finely cleaved the fish is, the utilization of milk or water, the use of flour or potatoes, the deployment of eggs, egg whites, and the cooking strategy.

Categories of Fish cake

Depending upon regional preferences and choices, fishcake ingredients have been classified into two categories such as:

Categories of fish cakes

Asian Style Fish cake

In Asia, fishcakes generally contain fish with salt, water, flour, and eggs.

Fishcakes can be the mix of a paste made of grounded fish and surimi. The resulting mixture is then molded into shape and left to cool.

They are then battered and breaded by utilizing a machine for that process.

At that point, they are normally seared with oil. After the cooking procedure, they are solidified, bundled, and are kept in that way until consumption.

European Style Fish cake

In Europe, fishcakes are like croquettes and made out of filleted fish or other seafood with a potato patty.

In some cases, it is covered in breadcrumbs or hitter. These fishcakes are slashed or minced fish, blended in with potato, egg, and flour with seasonings of onions, pepper, and herbs.

What is Japanese Fishcake?

The common name for a fishcake in Japan is Kamaboko. Kamaboko is a kind of Japanese fishcake produced using the meat of a few sorts of fresh fish or processed white fish called surimi.

It is simple and convenient to make and is enjoyed by almost every Japanese individual.

Fresh fish is squashed into a blend, some flavoring is included, and afterward, it is molded and cooked.

It is normally framed into a cube-like shape or cylindrical type shape like the naruto kamaboko and afterward steamed in wooden baskets until completely cooked and firm.

It can be framed into numerous different shapes and sizes too and can likewise be cooked by boiling, searing, or deep-frying it.

It tends to be served chilled, in a noodle dish, in a hot soup, or an assortment of different ways.

History of Japanese Fishcake

There is a history behind how Kamaboko was made. Although there is no concrete evidence of that, it is said that it started in the eighth century during the Heian period.

An outstanding story expresses that Kamaboko was first served at a festive dinner committed to a Japanese priest.

Since it was just the start of making Kamaboko, it was at first simply fish meat that was grounded and shaped into a bamboo stick before cooking.

As the shape was compared to that of the highest point of a cattail plant known as “Gama-no-ho” in Japanese, the dish was named as Kamaboko.

It was in the year 1865 that the retailing fish organization by the name of Suzuhiro began delivering Kamaboko.

While the market at first just served in Odawara city, the 6th proprietor of the organization chose to grow the market in the capital of the nation, Tokyo.

What are the benefits of Japanese Fishcake?

Despite its wonderful taste, it is loaded with several medical advantages which are listed below.

Texture of Fishcake

Although there are different kinds of Kamaboko, most of them have a pinkish and white color.

Kamaboko is typically chewy however the advanced kind is substantially more delicate which is enjoyed with delicate noodles.

Red Japanese fishcake just as the white one is regularly offered at a memorial and for special seasons, as in the Japanese culture, the two basic colors are considered to bring good luck.

10 types of Japanese Fishcake

Red Kamaboko

Red kamaboko fishcake

It is one of the most fundamental Japanese fishcakes and is enjoyed with soups like ramen and soba.

Even though it is alluded to as red, it has pinkish shade. This kind of kamaboko is steamed on a little wood board.

They often come together with white kamaboko, often even in the same roll.

White Kamaboko

White japanese kamaboko fish cake

It is second in prominence to red kamaboko; it is all white in shading and is steamed.

Different varieties of this kamaboko are correspondingly steamed.

However, then the highest point of the tube-shaped fishcake is broiled to make marginally brilliant dark colored outside.

Also read: is anchovy sauce the same as fish sauce and can I replace them?

Kani Kamaboko

Kani kamaboko imitation crab surimi

It is famously alluded to as imitation crab yet seems to be, a kind of fishcake that is made of white fish and prepared with the fluids of crabs.

Kani Kamaboko is prominently used in westernized sushi as a filling in California Sushi Rolls.

Naruto Kamaboko

naruto kamaboko fish cakes

It is acclaimed for its lovely pink and white spirals and twirls and the outside that has minor edges.

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

Narutomaki Fishcake is frequently utilized as a garnish in soup, like ramen, or sushi.

Sasa Kamaboko

Sasa kamaboko grilled fishcakes

It is viewed as a claim to fame of the area. The fishcakes are molded like the leaves of bamboo and are frequently served toasted to give a warm cooked flavor.

Sasa kamaboko is normally appreciated alone and is a well-known dish when people visit the Miyagi region.

Konbumaki Kamaboko

Japanese new year konbumaki kamaboko

These are fresh cakes that have an extremely slight layer of Kelp inside. To make the extravagant structure, the fishcake blend is moved with the kelp to make a whirl when the fishcake is sliced.

This sort of Konbumaki fishcake is marginally more expensive than red or white fishcake and is regularly served on special events like New Year as a major aspect of the Osechi Ryori feast.

Decorated Kamaboko

decorated kamaboko

It is a steamed cylindrical-shaped fish cake, and when cut open, a beautiful pattern emerges with, for example, trees, blossoms, many-sided kanji or other creative creatures.

Special Kamaboko is frequently filled in as a feature of Osechi, Ryori, or Japanese New Year’s food.

Chikuwa

Chikuwa kamaboko fish cake

It is a flame-broiled fishcake with a grilled fish taste to it.

It is molded into a long, tube-shaped cylinder that is hollow within. Chikuwa is frequently added to Japanese stew namely oden and utilized as a fixing in dishes.

Chikuwa grilled fish cake

Hanpen

Fluffy or fried Japanese Hanpen fish cake

It is a white, triangular fishcake that is a blend of white fish and Nagaimo Japanese mountain yam, making it lighter and fluffier.

What adds to the remarkable fleecy surface of Hanpen is that this fishcake is boiled rather than steamed.

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.

It’s also often fried (after already being pre-prepared and boiled) to be served as a side dish.

Satsuma-age

Satsuma age japanese deep-fried fish cakes

It is enjoyed in the southern part of Japan. It is like a plain cake made with straightforward white fish or blended in with different fixings, for example, vegetables or fish to make various kinds of Satsuma-age.

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

How do you eat Kamaboko fishcakes?

According to Japanese people, if you want to enjoy your fishcakes, it is basic knowledge that you observe the temperature just as the thickness of the cuts as this will decide how much you’ll enjoy the snacks.

If you plan on eating the fishcake as they ought to be, you should focus on a thickness of twelve millimeters as this will help take in a lot of the flavors that can be enjoyed by eating the right type of cakes.

If you don’t think you’re going to eat them as a stand-alone dish or snack, you might want to match them with different ingredients from the meal while and maybe go for a thin piece.

You could even take a piece of three millimeters thick. With a cut this thin, you can without much of a stretch use Kamaboko instead of, say, bacon, and you get great results.

And if you are hoping to appreciate the flavor while eating the cakes by themselves, go for a thick cut i.e. fifteen millimeters. You could then be able to add them to a plate of mixed greens without losing any of the flavors.

Concerning the temperature, you have to remember that the fishcakes contain plenty of proteins.

So adding an excessive amount of heat to cooking the Kamaboko won’t just denature the proteins but it will also ruin its crusty surface, and the cakes you’d get will be hard and also tough to chew.

Therefore, it is somehow necessary to keep the fishcakes at room temperature.

Fishcake in Ramen

Ramen is a Japanese dish that comprises of 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 fishcake that is an exemplary addition to ramen.

It is made by wrapping white fish paste hued with red food coloring with underlying fish paste into a compressed paste.

The fish paste is then cooked with a seam so it cements and can be sliced into thin cuts.

Fishcake Recipe

Kamaboko can be very easily made.

The ingredients required are essentially fish blend with a limited quantity of finely chopped vegetables, flavoring, and cornflour to tie the fish meat together.

At times, not even vegetables are incorporated. The vegetables blended into the fish paste can differ and you can utilize whatever you have in your home.

Unlike regular western-style fishcakes, Japanese fishcakes don’t utilize flour or pureed potatoes to tie the fish together.

Other than these vegetables, you can also use peas, green beans, mushrooms, shallots and additionally lotus roots. They all should be chopped and grounded.

If you’d like to try raw fish, I have written this post on types of sushi fish, which are best for raw consumption and have the best taste.

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.