Meaning of Kamaboko


Kamaboko is a variety of Japanese processed seafood products, called surimi, in which various white fish are pureed, formed into distinctive loaves, and then steamed until fully cooked and firm in texture. The steamed loaves are then sliced and served unheated (or chilled) with various dipping sauces or sliced and included in various hot soups, one-dish meals, or noodle dishes. Kamaboko is typically sold in semi cylindrical, Quonset hut-shaped loaves. Some kamaboko are made so that a slice looks like an object. The most common pattern is a simple spiral - sometimes referred to as "naruto" in reference to a well known tidal whirlpool near the Japanese city of Naruto.

Pink and white kamaboko. Although the Japanese name for kamaboko is becoming increasingly common outside of Japan (cf., sushi), some extant English names for kamaboko are fish paste, fish loaf, fish cake, and fish sausage (Tsuji, 1980). Tsuji recommends using the Japanese name in English because no adequate English name exists, other than the Jewish dish, gefilte fish, which is somewhat similar.

Red skinned kamaboko and white kamaboko are typically served at celebratory and holiday meals, as the red and white colors are considered to bring good luck.

Kamaboko has been made in Japan since the 14th century CE and is now available nearly worldwide. The simulated crab meat product kanikama (short for kani-kamaboko), the best known form of surimi in the West, is a type of kamaboko. In Japan, chīkama (cheese plus kamaboko) is commonly sold in convenience stores as a pre-packaged snack food.

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