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.
, 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
. Originally primarily a food for travelers,
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; www.zenkama.com
) 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