Narutomaki: How it differs from Kamaboko fish cake
Often seen in ramen, “Narutomaki (鳴門巻き)”, also simply called just “Naruto (ナルト)”, is a fish cake with a red and white spiral pattern, which is actually considered a kind of “Kamaboko (蒲鉾)”.
For the unfamiliar, Kamaboko is a traditional Japanese food made out of white fish that’s been ground, kneaded with sugar, mirin, salt, and egg white, molded, and then steamed or baked.
Typical fish used for making Kamaboko includes cods and sharks, and the resultant fish cake mostly has a white color and typically comes on a wooden plate.
Narutomaki is said to have been named after a whirling current in the Naruto Strait located between Naruto City in Tokushima Prefecture and Awaji Island in Hyogo, but how does the fish cake differ from regular Kamaboko?
First of all, while the regular Kamaboko typically has an arch shape, Narutomaki is shaped like a round stick and the edge is often jagged.
In Japan, Kamaboko has long been favored as an Otsumami or snack for alcoholic beverages and is produced around the country. And of all the prefectures, Niigata, where I live, is the largest producer of Kamaboko.
Meanwhile, the majority of the Narutomaki consumed in Japan are produced in Yaizu City, Shizuoka Prefecture.
Narutomaki uses more thickener than ordinary Kamaboko, so the fish flavor of Narutomaki is weak and the dough is somewhat powdery. Because of that, unlike regular Kamaboko, Narutomaki is seldom eaten on its own.
Specifically, Narutomaki is often used as a topping in ramen, and as an ingredient for Chahan (fried rice).