People in Japan usually don’t make kamaboko, because it’s readily available at grocery stores. But I do in the United States, where Japanese groceries are harder to get and cost twice as much as I pay in Japan.
Kamaboko is made of fish paste, and it can be molded into any shape. Most common kamaboko is sold as a half cylindrical shape on a piece of wood platform. Sliced kamaboko is eaten with soy sauce and wasabi, or can be added to nabe or dashi based clear soup.
Imitation crab meat (called kani kama in Japanese) is actually a type of kamaboko. It’s made of fish paste with crab flavorings.
Kamaboko is similar to gefilte fish, which is Jewish version of boiled fish paste. The difference of kamaboko is texture and flavoring. Gefilte fish is softer than kamaboko, as it contains chopped vegetables and matzo meal. Kamaboko is ideally made of only fish and salt, and has more bite than gefilte fish.
Homemade kamaboko tastes much better than store bought kamaboko, and it can be made within one hour if you have a food processor, which significantly reduces time to make smooth fish paste.
Almost any kind of white sea fish fillets can be used to make kamaboko, however, they have to be fresh. It is difficult to buy really fresh fish in the United States, but try your best.
I bought my tilapia fillets at Costco. They looked pretty good, but I added starch and other flavorings, which I will explain below. Unless you go out to fish on your own, you will need to add starch and flavorings to substitute the freshness and bite.
Particular type of dorless tree is used in Japan as a base or platform of kamaboko, but they are hard to find in the U.S. So I bought a couple of pieces of 4-1/2″ x 4-1/2″ x 1/4″ pine wood at a local arts & crafts store and cut them in half. Plywood can’t be used, as it will be steamed and soaked in water.
Small pound cake molds made of silicone would work better than piece of wood, because it’s odorless, and shape forming is easier.
Previous Comments (Please add new comments under “REVIEW” tab)
Petti, Submitted on 2015/01/19 at 8:48 pm
This recipe!!! I was looking for a kamaboko recipe! this is definitely what I need!
by the way, do you know how to make the fried kamaboko? if it is fried after steaming, or before any cooking.
Thanks for uploading
Yuki, Submitted on 2015/01/19 at 8:55 pm | In reply to Petti.
Thank you Petti. Fried kamaboko? Are you talking about “satsuma age”? If so, it’s here. http://japanese-kitchen.net/satsuma-age-recipe/ Both of them are made from the same fish paste.
Petti, Submitted on 2015/01/20 at 10:40 pm | In reply to Yuki.
Thanks for replying me!! I knew about satsuma-age, but they are only ball shaped (if I’m not wrong)… Where I live, there is a type between: the shape of the steamed kamaboko and the outside texture of the satsumaage, and wanted to try doing it. If by chance you know about it, it would be awesome! ?
Yuki, Submitted on 2015/01/21 at 8:27 am | In reply to Petti.
Satsumaage can be any shape. Cylinder shape with burdock at the center, oval disk shape, etc. Hanpen is also made from fish paste, but it requires special type of root vegetable (family of yam), which I can’t get in the United States.
salli, Submitted on 2015/06/13 at 9:03 am
hi. tried your recipe last night. the flavor was excellent. the texture was not as smooth as “store bought’ ones. it was a little mealy. even re-steamed for additional 20minutes. used cornstarch. help.
Yuki, Submitted on 2015/06/13 at 11:17 am | In reply to salli.
Thank you for trying the recipe! The unique texture is developed by leaving the formed kamaboko in room temperature before steaming. Try leaving the formed kamaboko in room temperature up to 1 hour before steaming (not in a fridge, but probably better to let it sit in air conditioned room in summer to avoid spoilage). Also manufactures use a metal sieve or strainer to remove lumps right after using a food processor. It is an additional step, but the process significantly improve the smoothness. Let me know how it goes.
avachef, Submitted on 2015/07/30 at 11:20 pm
thanks for your nice recipeوi think can use from plastic wrape to smooth surface!!
victor, Submitted on 2015/09/22 at 2:55 pm
Hi Yuki ! this recipe works well and I have had positive feedback from friends. I personally wound not attempt freezing but if you must please try using a food saver as it does reduce the volume of air and help with shelf life. I find using a tamis helps to create the perfect texture . Udon noodles kamaboko and kimchi = yummm !
Razib, Submitted on 2015/09/28 at 5:18 am
Is there any alternatve for mirin and sake? Or can I ignore them? Mirin isn’t available in my country and sake/alcohol is prohibited in my family.
Yuki, Submitted on 2015/09/28 at 9:12 am | In reply to Razib.
Unfortunately, no alternatives for mirin and sake. But mirin and sake are just for flavoring, so that you can still make kamaboko without them. Get fish as fresh as possible in order to compensate the lack of mirin and sake flavor. Good luck!