The friendly folks at FishBase ( offer the following lovely definition for "kamaboko":
Elastic or rubbery, heat-pasteurized, Japanese style fish cakes made from minced fish, with starch for thickening, and sugar, salt and monosodium glutamate for flavoring.
Sounds yummy, doesn't it? But perhaps an easier way to describe kamaboko is as fish sausage. The food has a long history (the earliest known reference in literature dates back to 1111 AD) and many Japanese towns (eg. Hakone) pride themselves on their kamaboko. Originally primarily a food for travelers, making kamaboko was one of the few ways to store fish before the advent of refrigeration. Even today, the All-Japan Fish Sausage Association (Zenkoku Kamaboko Rengokai; offers reviews, recipes, history lessons and nutritional information about this omnipresent (at least in Japan) processed fish product. There are many different types, but perhaps the most common is a long white block with one edge tinted red for esthetic reasons.

So how are kamaboko used? Well, many a Japanese starts their day with a slice as a part of a traditional Japanese breakfast. When slurping noodles at lunchtime, the typical bowl of soba or udon has some kamaboko floating on top. For dinner, kamaboko are a obligatory part of many nabe stews, especially oden. And even when downing a few brewskis at the local izakaya deep-fried slices of kamaboko, called satsuma-age, are almost as popular as dried squid.

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