Sasa Kamaboko: Fish Cake Shaped Like Bamboo Leaf
Kamaboko is a traditional Japanese food with a long history whose origin can be traced back to the description of 1115 in the document “類聚雑要抄 (Ruiju-Zoyosho).
The food is a variety of Nerimono made from ground white fish mixed with seasoning and binding ingredients such as salt and egg white.
The prepared surimi paste is then molded and heated, and some are flavored with ingredients such as cheese or crab flavoring.
So supermarkets in Japan usually carry various shapes and flavors of Kamaboko fish cake,
and at one near my house, the other day, I got this “Sasa Kamaboko (笹かまぼこ)” from Maruzen (Price: 98 yen/about 0.9 USD).
Sasa Kamaboko (笹かまぼこ)
Sasa Kamaboko, also known as Sasakama, is a Kamaboko fish cake with its roots in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture.
In the early years of the Meiji period (Meiji: 1868-1912), the city had a good catch of Hirame flounder.
But at the time, refrigeration/transportation systems weren’t good enough. So for preservation, the leftover fish was processed into Kamaboko.
Shaped like a bamboo leaf or “Sasa (笹)” and grilled, the fish cake was initially called “Tenohira Kamaboko (手のひらかまぼこ: Palm Kamaboko)” or “Bero Kamaboko (ベロかまぼこ: Tongue Kamaboko)”.
But later, the Kamaboko specialty shop established in 1935, “Abe Kamaboko (阿部蒲鉾店)” (Google Map) gave it the name of Sasa Kamaboko and popularized it.
Sasa Kamaboko since has become a food that Sendai prides itself on.
It is now made from various fish surimi, including Kichiji rockfish, Alaska pollack, sea bream, or Nodoguro shore dotterel,
and large food makers, including “Kibun (紀文) and “Maruzen (丸善)”, are selling it nationwide.
How to Enjoy
As with regular Kamaboko, Sasa Kamaboko can be enjoyed in various ways. You can not only eat it as it is, but you can also use it in dishes.
This time, I toasted the fish cake lightly and ate it with wasabi shoyu (soy sauce with grated Japanese horseradish).
The cooked Kamaboko was firm on the outside and soft on the inside and was delicious!
Lastly, here is the ingredients and nutrition facts label of the Maruzen Sasa Kamaboko. According to that,
the cake mainly consists of fish meat (cod, golden threadfin bream, red bigeye, and so forth), egg white, salt, reduced starch syrup, brewed seasoning, sugar, powdered wheat protein, and dextrose.
(Reference Page: Wikipedia 蒲鉾 )