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7 Beautiful Designs to Cut Japanese Fish Cake かまぼこの飾り切り

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    Two Japanese fish cakes (Kamaboko), seven beautiful designs! Make ordinary fish cake into decorative designs on this Oshogatu (Japanese New Year)!

    Decorative kamaboko fish cakes on a black and red lacquered board.

    Oshogatu (Japanese New Year) is the biggest celebration in Japan, and even everyday food like Kamaboko gets a total make-over for this happy occasion!

    Kamaboko (かまぼこ or 蒲鉾) is a Japanese fish cake, a type of cured surimi. It is made by forming various white fish paste steamed into a semicylindrical log shape on a wooden block.

    Kamaboko is usually sliced and served chilled or unheated, sometimes with some type of dipping sauces. You can also find kamaboko in hot soups, rice dishes, and fried noodles.

    Decorative kamaboko fish cakes on a black and red lacquered board.

    Red (Pink)-skinned and white kamaboko are typically served at celebratory and holiday meals, as red and white are considered to bring good luck. Kamaboko is flexible in texture so it is often cut into different decorative shapes and designs.

    I’ll show you how to make seven beautiful kamaboko decorations, from easy to slightly difficult. Each design has a special meaning that is appropriately auspicious for the New Year.

    Watch 7 Beautiful Designs to Cut Japanese Fish Cake

    Two Japanese fish cakes (Kamaboko), seven beautiful designs! Make ordinary fish cake into decorative designs on this Oshogatu (Japanese New Year)!

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    1. Checkered Pattern (Ichimatsu 市松)

    Kamaboko Checkered Pattern (Ichimatsu)

    The checkered pattern is the easiest and quickest to make. All you need is both pink and white kamaboko fish cakes. Slice them in halves and stack together. No fancy skill is required!


    2. Pine Needle (Matsuba 松葉)

    Kamaboko Pine Needle (Matsuba)

    Pine needle design gives a nice 3 dimensions even though the design may not be as obvious. It’s a great fish cake design for your appetizer platter which doesn’t require any knife cutting skill.


    3. Knot (Musubi 結び)

    Kamaboko Knot (Musubi)

    The knot design is universal and it is very pretty to look at on a platter or as a garnish on top of the food. The elasticity of the fish cake makes it possible to create this beautiful design.


    4. Reins (Tazuna 手綱)

    Kamaboko Reins (Tazuna)

    This design focuses on the patterns on top of Kamaboko. If you are using a small platter with little room for 3-dimensional motifs, you can still upgrade your ordinary slice of fish cake into a pretty visual design on the top.


    5. Rose (Kohaku Bara 紅白薔薇)

    Kamaboko Rose (Kohaku Bara)

    Use red-skin and white kamaboko fish cakes for this rose design. Girls would love this decorative design in their bento box! Other happy occasions that you can use is for garnish on Chirashi Sushi on Girl’s Day (March 3 in Japan).


    6. Peacock (Kujaku 孔雀)

    Kamaboko Peacock (Kujaku)

    The peacock design is probably my favorite of all the designs that I share here. The red skin of the fish cake makes a perfect peacock’s eyespot. This design requires some fine motor skill to cut the fish cake into thin slices, and the use of chopsticks to create the delicate shape (particularly useful if you have big fingers).


    7. Pine Tree (Matsu 松)

    Kamaboko Pine Tree (Matsu)

    This design is the traditional Japanese pine tree pattern. Slightly complicated to make, but the final result makes it truly special and unique. I recommend watching the video for this design.

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    Enjoy 7 Beautiful Designs to Cut Japanese Fish Cake?

    Aside from presenting them in decorative patterns, you can also make a simple appetizer dish using kamaboko fish cake and salmon roe (ikura).

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

    Kamaboko with Salmon Roe

    I hope you have fun decorating kamaboko fish cake. Japanese New Year is a special time to spend with your loved ones, and making these delicacies in the kitchen is one of the creative ways to kindle the relationship.

    Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.

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