3 Japanese Fish Cakes that are most commonly eaten in Japan

There are a variety of Japanese foods whose main ingredient is fish paste. For example, as I introduced it before, in the snack and candy genre unique to Japan “Dagashi (駄菓子)“, there are many famous cheap fish paste snacks that are widely enjoyed among Japanese children.

3 Common Types of Japanese Fish Cakes

That also applies to Japanese cuisine, where 3 types of Japanese fish cakes are commonly eaten in Japanese daily life. Today I want to introduce them.

Kamaboko (蒲鉾)

Kamaboko is the quintessential Japanese fish cake with about 900 years of history. This traditional Japanese food is made with whitefishes and often comes with a wooden plate. The making method is that

  1. Remove blood and fat from the white meat of the fish
  2. Grind the fish meat, then add sugar, salt, mirin and egg white, and knead the mixture
  3. Form the seasoned fish paste into a semicircular shape on a wooden plate
  4. Cook it through the use of steam’s heat or by baking

Kamaboko is a processed Japanese fish cake and can be eaten as is. It is often served with soy sauce and also used as an ingredient for Udon and Soba noodle soups. In modern times, Kamaboko comes in many types. Even among those, Cheese Kamaboko is a popular modern Kamaboko available at almost any convenience store in Japan, which is typically enjoyed along with alcoholic drinks as an Otsumami.

Chikuwa (竹輪)

Chikuwa is a traditional Japanese food with several hundred years of history, which is one of the most commonly eaten fish cakes in Japan together with Kamaboko. Chikuwa features its unique shape. It is cylindrical and has a hole in the center that comes from the making method, which is as follows,

  1. Knead fish paste, such as walleye pollack, shark, flying fish and Atka mackerel, with salt, sugar, starch, egg white and so on
  2. Wrap the seasoned fish paste around a bamboo or metal stick
  3. Cook it through the use of steam’s heat or by baking or boiling

Like Kamaboko, Chikuwa is also a processed Japanese fish cake and can be eaten as is, but Japanese home cooks sometimes fill the center hole with some food and like to add another flavor and texture to Chikuwa. Typical examples of such foods include cucumber and cheese. Especially, the latter, Cheese Chikuwa is popular and matches well with alcoholic drinks.

Satsuma Age (薩摩揚げ)

Satsuma Age is a traditional Japanese fish cake that has its roots in Kagoshima prefecture. Actually, the basic making process is the same as that of Kamaboko. Specifically, Satsuma Age is made by deep-frying seasoned fish paste and classified as “Age-Kamaboko (揚げ蒲鉾 : Deep-fried Kamaboko)”. However, not only does Satsuma Age consist of solely fish paste, but it is also made from the mixture of fish paste and other foods, such as vegetables like Jew’s ear mushroom, onion, green onion and Beni Shoga, and seafood like shrimps, octopus and squid. Satsuma Age can be eaten as is as well as Kamaboko and Chikuwa, but we Japanese usually bake this fish cake lightly first, then eat it dipping in soy sauce.

(Reference pages of this article : Wikipedia 蒲鉾, 竹輪, 薩摩揚げ )


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. I want to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures and trivia.

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