Kamaboko (蒲鉾:かまぼこ) is a type of cured surimi, a processed seafood product common in Japanese cuisine.

Pink and white kamaboko
Alternative namesFish cake
Place of originJapan
Region or stateEast Asia
Main ingredientsfish
Similar dishesGefilte fish
Sugiyo crab stick (Kani-kamaboko) Kaori-hako
A tub of uncured fish surimi ready for finish-processing

It is made by forming various pureed deboned white fish with either natural or man-made additives and flavorings into distinctive loaves, which are then steamed until fully cooked and firm. These are sliced and either served unheated (or chilled) with various dipping sauces, or added to various hot soups, rice, or noodle dishes. Kamaboko is often sold in semicylindrical loaves, some featuring 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. In Miyagi Prefecture, Sasa-Kamaboko (笹かまぼこ) is a regional kamaboko variation, pale white in colour, formed in the shape of bamboo leaves and often lightly grilled immediately prior to serving.

There is no precise English translation for kamaboko. Rough equivalents are 'fish paste', 'fish loaf', 'fish cake', and 'fish sausage'.[1] Tsuji recommends using the Japanese name in English (e.g., 'sushi'). The Ashkenazi Jewish dish gefilte fish has some similarity.[2]

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 AD and is now available nearly worldwide. The simulated crab meat product kanikama (short for kani-kamaboko) is the best-known form of surimi in the West. In Japan, the prepackaged snack chīkama (cheese plus kamaboko) is commonly sold in convenience stores. In the city of Uwajima, a type of fried kamaboko called jakoten is popular.


Choice of fishEdit

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

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

Kamaboko DayEdit

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

Outside JapanEdit


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 II, 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.[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Tsuji, Shizuo (1980). Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art. New York: Kodansha International.
  2. ^ Mouritsen, Ole (2017). Mouthfeel: How Texture Makes Taste. Columbia University Press, New York.
  3. ^ "The Kamaboko House". Historic Hawaii Foundation. Retrieved 2017-07-21.

External linksEdit