10 Kinds of Kamaboko (Japanese Fish Cake)

  • 01 of 10

    Red Kamaboko

    Aka Kamaboko
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    Kamaboko, or Japanese fish cake, is both a traditional food and ingredient used in many different dishes. 

    Kamaboko is made from a white fish paste that is either steamed, grilled, fried, or boiled. This gallery explores the many different types of kamaboko that are commonly enjoyed in Japanese cuisine. Kamaboko is readily available pre-made and for sale at Japanese grocery stores, as well as other Asian supermarkets.

    Red kamaboko (fish cake) is one of the most basic of Japanese fish cakes and is readily used as a topping for soups such as ramen, udon, and soba. Although it is referred to as red, in reality, it is a shade of pink. It is also known as "aka kamaboko" in Japanese. This type of kamaboko is steamed on a small wood board.

  • 02 of 10

    White Kamaboko

    Shiro Kamaboko
    Eiichi Onodera/Emi Kimata/Getty Images

    White kamaboko is likely the next most popular type of Japanese fish cake after red kamaboko. It is all white in color and is a fish cake that is steamed. Other variations of white kamaboko are similarly steamed, but the top of the cylindrical fish cake is grilled to create a slightly golden brown exterior. 

  • 03 of 10

    Naruto Kamaboko

    Naruto Kamboko
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    Naruto kamaboko is famous for its beautiful pink and white swirl and an exterior that has tiny ridges. When naruto is sliced, it creates a beautiful pattern that adds to the presentation of any dish that it garnishes. Naruto fish cake is often used as a garnish in soup or chirashi (scattered) sushi. 

  • 04 of 10


    Mixa/Getty Images

    Chikuwa is a long, cylindrically shaped tube that is hollow on the inside. It is a grilled fish cake and has a toasty flavor to it. Chikuwa is popularly added to Japanese stew such as oden and used as an ingredient in dishes such as chikuwa tempura or sauteed chikuwa in kabayaki sauce

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  • 05 of 10

    Satsuma Age

    Satsuma-Age (Deep Fried Fish Cake)
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    Satsuma age is a fish cake that is deep fried. The fish cake is available plain with simple white fish, or the kamaboko paste is mixed with other ingredients such as vegetables (carrots or gobo burdock root) or seafood to create different flavors of satsuma age. Deep fried fish cake is often added to Japanese stew such as oden, sauteed in stir-fry, or added to hot udon noodles. It is also enjoyed as is.

  • 06 of 10


    Imagenavi/Getty Images

    Hanpen is a fish cake that is mixed with white fish and nagaimo Japanese mountain yam to create a texture that is lighter and fluffier. In the featured photo, hanpen are triangular in shape and white in color. What adds to the unique fluffy texture of hanpen is that this fish cake is boiled rather than steamed. Variations of hanpen are square (or cut in half diagonally to form triangles), or round and may or may not include added ingredients to change its flavor, such as ginger, mugwort, or shiso perilla leaf.

  • 07 of 10

    Konbumaki Kamaboko

    Fish Cake Wrapped in a Thin Layer of Konbu (Kelp) Kamaboko; Japanese Fish Cake. Mixa/Getty Images

    Konbumaki kamaboko are fish cakes that have a very thin layer of kelp. To create a fancy design, the fish cake paste is rolled with the kelp to create a swirled design when the fish cake is sliced. This type of konbumaki fish cake is slightly more expensive than red or white fish cake and is often served on special occasions such as Japanese New Year as part of the osechi ryori feast. 

  • 08 of 10

    Sasa Kamaboko

    Sasa Kamaboko
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    Sasa kamaboko originated from the Miyagi Prefecture of Japan and is considered a specialty of the region. The fish cakes are shaped like the leaves of bamboo and are often served toasted to impart a warm roasted flavor. Sasa kamaboko is a popular gift when folks visit Miyagi. This kamaboko is often enjoyed on its own.

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  • 09 of 10

    Specialty Kamaboko

    Specialty Kamaboko (Fish Cake)
    Photo Credit: © Judy Ung

    Specialty kamaboko are steamed cylinder shaped kamaboko, and when sliced, present beautiful designs such as trees, flowers, intricate kanji (Chinese characters) or other art, such as animal characters. Specialty kamaboko are often served as part of osechi ryori, or Japanese New Year's food.

  • 10 of 10

    Kani Kamaboko

    Crab Fish Cake
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    Kani kamaboko is popularly referred to as imitation crab but is, in fact, a type of fish cake that is made of white fish but seasoned with the liquid of crabs. Kani kamaboko is popularly used in westernized sushi as an ingredient in California sushi rolls.