10 Kinds of Kamaboko (Japanese Fish Cake)

  • 01 of 10

    Red Kamaboko

    Aka Kamaboko
    Fish Cake with Pink Trim Red Kamaboko (Japanese Fish Cake). Koki Iino/Getty Images

    Japanese Ingredient Spotlight on Different Types of Kamaboko

    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.

    For additional...MORE information on kamaboko basics, please review our article "Kamaboko: Japanese Ingredient Spotlight" on our Japanese food blog.

    Red kamaboko (fish cake) is one of the most basic of Japanese fish cakes and is readily used as a toppings 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.

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  • 02 of 10

    White Kamaboko

    Shiro Kamaboko
    White Fish Cake White Kamaboko (Fish Cake). 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. 

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  • 03 of 10

    Naruto Kamaboko

    Pink and White Swirled Japanese Fish Cake Naruto Kamaboko (Japanese Pink and White Swirl Fish Cake). Joey Lim/Moment Open/Getty Images

    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. 

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  • 04 of 10


    Grilled Japanese Fish Cake Chikuwa (Grilled Japanese Fish Cake). Mixa/Getty Images

    Chikuwa is a long  cylindrical shaped tube that is hollow on the inside. It is a grilled fish cake, and as such has a toasty flavor to it. Chikuwa is popular added to Japanese stew such as oden, and also 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)
    Deep Fried Fish Cake Served with Spicy Hot Mustard Satsuma Age (Fried Fish Cake). Mixa/Getty Images

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

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  • 06 of 10


    Japanese Fish Cake Made with Nagaimo Yam Hanpen (Japanese Boiled Fish Cake Featured in Oden Stew). 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 shaped and may or may not include added ingredients to change its flavor, such as ginger, mugwort,...MORE or shiso perilla leaf.

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  • 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. 

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  • 08 of 10

    Sasa Kamaboko

    Sasa Kamaboko
    Toasted Fish Cakes Shaped Like Bamboo Leaves Sasa Kamaboko (Toasted Bamboo Leaf Shaped Fish Cake). Mixa/Getty Images

    Sasa kamaboko originated from the Miyagi Prefecture of Japan and is considered a specialty of the region. The fish cakes are shaped liked the leaves of the 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)
    Fish Cake with Fancy Designs for Special Occasions Specialty Kamaboko (Japanese Fish Cake with Fancy Designs). Photo Credit: © Judy Ung

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

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  • 10 of 10

    Kani Kamaboko (Crab Flavored Fish Cake)

    Crab Fish Cake
    Imitation Crab Kani Kamaboko (Crab Fish Cake; Imitation Crab). MarkGillow/Getty Images

    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.