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Kamaboko (Japanese Fish Cake)

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    Kamaboko Steamed Fish Cake | Easy Japanese Recipes at

    Kamaboko (蒲鉾, かまぼこ), or Japanese fish cake, is both a traditional and processed seafood ingredient used in many dishes in Japanese cuisine. It is made from white fish paste (called surimi) that has been pureed and then steamed, grilled, or fried until fully cooked and firm.

    You can find kamaboko available in many shapes, forms, and textures. The steamed fish cakes typically have a mild and sweet taste, and they are ready to use right away. You can serve them chilled or add as a topping to various noodle dishes or hot pots. When grilled, they have a nice warm toasty flavor and can be enjoyed on their own.

    A sign on a table show how to make kamaboko

    A Long History of Food Preservation

    The Japanese have been making kamaboko fish cakes since the 14th century AD as a method of food preservation. The process involves mixing different types of white fish, pulverize the meat into a gelatinous paste, and sometimes mix with salt, flour, and egg before they are cooked. The finished product can be kept and enjoyed later.

    For a closer look at how the fish cakes are being made, check out our fun tour at the Suzuhiro Kamaboko Museum in Odawara.

    Kamaboko Steamed Fish Cake | Easy Japanese Recipes at

    Different Types of Kamaboko

    The most common types of kamaboko are red kamaboko and white kamaboko (pictured below) that are sold in semicylindrical loaves.

    Kamaboko Steamed Fish Cake | Easy Japanese Recipes at

    The red one (also known as ‘aka kamaboko’) actually comes in white on the inside with a striking pink outer layer. It is typically used as a topping for noodle dishes such as udon and soba.

    These two types of fish cakes are also served at celebratory events such as Japanese New Year, as red and white are considered to bring good luck.

    fishcake cut into patterns on a black lacquer plate

    Learn the 7 beautiful designs to cut Japanese fish cake.

    A dark bowl containing Kitsune Udon Noodle Soup.

    Narutomaki is another famous fish cake known for its pink spiral pattern. It is sold in a tube shape. Naruto fish cake is sliced thinly to reveals its beautiful pattern and used as a garnish in noodle soup.

    cucumber stuff inside chikuwa on wood cutting board

    Chikuwa is a long, cylindrical fish cake that is grilled and enjoyed a snack. It has a wonderful toasty flavor and delicious in oden. In Japan, you can find chikuwa being sold at convenience stores or at the food floor at the departmental stores.

    Other types of kamaboko include jakoten (fried kamaboko), chīkama (cheese kamaboko), and specialty kamaboko that is served as part of Osechi Ryori (Japanese new year food).

    Recipes Featuring Kamaboko Fish Cakes

    Salmon roe and shiso leaf stuffed inside the kamaboko fish cake.

    Kamaboko Fish Cakes with Salmon Roe

    A Japanese bowl containing Toshikoshi Soba Noodle Soup with fish cake and wakame seaweed.

    Soba Noodle Soup

    A donabe containing fish cakes and fish balls simmered in soy sauce-based dashi broth.

    Oden (Japanese Fish Cake Stew)

    A white bowl containing Crispy Noodles with Seafood (Sara Udon).

    Sara Udon (Crispy Noodles with Seafood)

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