Kamaboko is a Japanese fish cake made from various kinds of fish. It is one of the most famous souvenirs of Sendai sold in a beautiful package and easily found, especially at Sendai station. The price is around 1,000-1,500 yen each package (~8 pieces). It can be eaten either as a snack or cooked as other food, like Oden, but we usually eat it as a snack.
How kamaboko is made?
At the first time that I knew and tried Kamaboko, I’m a little worried if it was made from borax or not because the texture is unique, soft and bounced like a meat ball. Kamaboko was made elaborately from all natural ingredients which are wild white fish, egg whites, salt, sugar, fish sauce and Japanese sake. Although no artificial coloring or seasonings or preservatives were used, Kamaboko can be last-longer due to the producing method. Now, let’s see how it is made.
The first process is to fillet the fish (remove skin and bones). Then, clean the fish meat to remove fat and blood which lead to the last-longer period of Kamaboko. After that, pound the cleaned fish meat with slat and add seasonings. How long the fish meat need to be pounded is different for different kinds of fish and need to be determined by year-of-experienced craftsmen, as well as how much salt needed to be added. This process is important since it makes Kamaboko have a unique texture and a good taste. The next process is to shape the fish in paste into the wood boards for steaming. This process is also important for the taste and texture and, like the pound process, only more-than-20-year-experienced craftsmen are allowed to do this. After learning how it is made, I appreciated the elaborated process and feel a little bit guilty that I used to think that it is composed of chemical agents. In addition to its delicious taste and unique texture, Kamaboko is also good for health because it consists of five to seven types of steamed fish meat which contains a lot of protein and mineral. Although there is fat, but it is little compared to protein and mineral.
Kamaboko shop in Sendai
There are 3 main places you can buy and eat kamaboko.
1. Sendai station: There are a large number of Kamaboko and other famous Sendai’s souvenir, so you can choose and buy every souvenir in one places at 2nd floor of Sendai station. Each shop also has tasting samples.
2. Abe Kamabokoten at Clis Road (Ichibancho): Ichibancho shopping arcade is the largest shopping places in Sendai (and Tohoku) composed of tons of shops varied from 100 yens shop to apple store, Japanese restaurant and shoes and cloth shops. Abe Kamabokoten shop is also located at Ichibancho the same part as AEON shopping mall and can be easily noticed because it is on the opposite of the road of GUCCI shop. Here, you can not only buy Kamaboko, but you can also eat Hyotan-age, Kamaboko fritter ball, at the shop which is only 200 yen.
Although the ball looks thick, the fried flour is crispy outside, and soft inside. Combined with Kamaboko and sauce, it’s a good combination that you must order a second one. Near this shop, you can visit the largest Adidas shop in Sendai, the drug store, Kaldi, 100-yen shop and Aeon shopping mall.
3. Matsushima: Matsushima is a famous city in Tohoku area where we can enjoy a lot of fresh seafood, including oyster, sashimi, scallop and so on, and 50-minuted cruising around Matsushima bay. Here, there are about 2 or 3 Kamaboko shops where we can enjoy grilling Kamaboko by yourself at the shop.
4. Sendai Airport: You can also buy Kamaboko at Sendai airport, but there are less choices in which only two or three shops are located there. Anyway, one thing that you can buy at Sendai airport, but not at Sendai station is the souvenirs from Mt.Zao. I personally recommend you to try Zao creamy spread which have various tastes, like blueberry, strawberry and kiwi. It’s delicious that I can’t explain the taste and texture in words and I confirm that you’re worth trying it.