Often known as fish cakes, Nerimono are the key ingredients to make the popular Oden (Japanese Fish Cake Stew). These salty, flavorful fish products are made from white fish paste and have a springy texture.
What is Oden?
Oden (おでん) is a popular Japanese one-pot stew (nabemono) that features a variety of fish cake products in dashi based broth. These fish cakes are called Nerimono (練り物) in Japanese. Oden is a dish name but it sometimes also refers to the assortment of fish cakes used in the stew.
What is Nerimono?
Nerimono (練り物) are foods that are made from Surimi (すり身).
Literally means “ground meat” in Japanese, Surimi is actually made from white-fleshed fish, such as Alaska pollock and Pacific whiting, that has been pulverized into a thick paste and mixed with other ingredients like salt, oil, seasonings, etc.
Nerimono, the final products of Surimi can come in balls, sticks, cakes, and other forms in various sizes. Hence, Nerimono is also referred to as fish cakes, fish balls, or seafood balls in English. These foods have a distinctive, slightly springy texture to them.
Nerimono can be found in the freezer section in Japanese grocery stores all year round. You can use it in many Japanese recipes, and Oden is just one of them.
Since Oden is a very popular dish, you can buy a package of approx. 10 assorted Nerimiono (fish cake products). I usually buy one of these pre-selected packages of Nerimono and individual types (of my favorites). These packages usually include a packet of concentrated broth.
Most of the fish cakes are pre-cooked or fried, so they take only minutes to warm up in a hot broth, making them the convenient ready-to-eat food during the winter months.
Types of Nerimono
Curious to see different types of Nerimono? Check this website; there are so many shapes and sizes of Nerimono out there!
- Chikuwa (tubed fish cake)
- Gobo-maki (fish cake stuffed with gobo)
- Datemaki (egg and fish cake)
- Hanpen (pounded fish cake)
- Ika-maki (fish cake stuffed with squid)
- Kamaboko (fish cake)
- Kanikama (imitation crab meat)
- Naruto-maki (white fish cake with a red swirl pattern)
- Satsuma-agee (fried fish cake)
- Tsumire (fish ball)
- Vegetable Tempura (fried fish cake with vegetables)
In Japan, you can even find regional Nerimono unique to the local prefectures. Some of the port cities that are well known for Nerimono include Odawara in Kanagawa prefecture and Kagoshima prefecture, where they have access to fresh seafood and processing plants.
Recipes Using Oden (Nerimono)
A popular dish that features an assortment of Nerimono is Oden, a Fish Cake Stew. If you have any leftovers, you can use them in your hot udon noodle soup or simmered dishes, or other hot pot dishes.