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Pink and white kamaboko
Alternative names Fish cakes, eomuk, odeng
Type Surimi
Place of origin Japan
Similar dishes Gefilte fish
Cookbook: Kamaboko  Media: Kamaboko
Sugiyo crab stick (Kani-kamaboko) "Kaori-hako"
A tub of uncured fish surimi ready for finish-processing

Kamaboko (蒲鉾:かまぼこ) is a type of cured surimi, a Japanese processed seafood product, in which various white fish are pureed, combined with additives such as MSG, formed into distinctive loaves, and then steamed until fully cooked and firm. The steamed loaves are then sliced and served unheated (or chilled) with various dipping sauces or sliced and included in various hot soups, one-dish meals, or noodle dishes. Kamaboko is typically sold in semicylindrical loaves. Some kamaboko include artistic patterns, such as the pink spiral on each slice of narutomaki, named after the well-known tidal whirlpool near the Japanese city of Naruto.

Although the Japanese name for kamaboko is sometimes used outside Japan (cf., sushi), some extant English names for kamaboko are fish paste, fish loaf, fish cake, and fish sausage (Tsuji, 1980). Tsuji recommends using the Japanese name in English because no adequate English name exists, though the Jewish dish gefilte fish is somewhat similar.

Red-skinned and white kamaboko are typically served at celebratory and holiday meals, as red and white are considered to bring good luck.

Kamaboko has been made in Japan since the 14th century CE and is now available nearly worldwide. The simulated crab meat product kanikama (short for kani-kamaboko), the best-known form of surimi in the West, is a type of kamaboko. In Uwajima, a type of fried kamaboko called jakoten is popular. In Japan, chīkama (cheese plus kamaboko) is commonly sold in convenience stores as a pre-packaged snack food.


Choice of fish[edit]

Early kamaboko was made with minced catfish (Silurus asotus).

The white fish used to make surimi (Japanese: , literally "ground meat") include:

Kamaboko Day[edit]

The Kamaboko organization of Japan specified November 15 for Kamaboko Day established in 1983.

Kamaboko outside Japan[edit]


In Hawaii, pink or red-skinned kamaboko is readily available in grocery stores. It is a staple of saimin, a popular noodle soup created in Hawaii from the blending of Chinese and Japanese ingredients. Kamaboko is sometimes referred to as fish cake in English.

After World War 2, surplus Quonset Huts became popular as housing in Hawaii. They became known as Kamaboko Houses due to the Quonset Hut's half- cylindrical shape, similar to Kamaboko.[1]

See also[edit]

How to make Kamaboko: Suzuhiro Kamaboko


  1. ^ "The Kamaboko House". Historic Hawaii Foundation. Retrieved 2017-07-21. 
  • Tsuji, Shizuo, (1980). Japanese cooking: A simple art. Kodansha International, New York.