Translated by Ken
Sauces And Kamaboko! Pair Fish Cakes With Sauces From Around The World
Written by MATCHA-PR
November 15 is known as Kamaboko Day. Kamaboko are fish cakes with subtle flavor that can be enjoyed in different ways. Today we will go over the best sauces from the world to try with kamaboko.
Kamaboko Day - Explore New Ways to Enjoy Kamaboko
Pictures courtesy of Suzuhiro Kamaboko Co., Ltd.
From Ramen Day on July 11 to Green Tea Day on October 1 and 31, Japan has numerous days to celebrate food.
November 15 is Kamaboko Day. Made from fish paste, kamaboko is a traditional steamed or grilled fish cake. With its firm texture, it is unlike any other food.
The first record of kamaboko dates back to 1115 CE, during the Heian Period. Back then, kamaboko was served at banquets for nobles. To reflect the year of its first recorded mention, November 15 was designated Kamaboko Day.
Usually kamaboko is eaten like sashimi, with soy sauce and wasabi, but there are many different ways to enjoy its natural flavor and texture.
For this article, we asked our diverse MATCHA staff for sauces from across the globe. We experimented with a variety of sauces to determine our favorites!
Suzuhiro Kamaboko - The Perfect Size
For our taste tests, we purchased kamaboko from Suzuhiro Kamaboko, a shop with over 150 years of history.
Under the concept small version of the real thing, Odawarakko is the small version of their kamaboko made using fresh fish and natural seasoning. If you are concerned about preserves and chemicals, rest assured their kamaboko is free of any artificial additives.
Odawarakko is perfectly sized at 145 grams. You can keep one in your fridge for a quick and easy snack or side dish.
Thailand - Seafood Sauce, Sweet Chili Sauce, Prik Nam Pla
Thai condiments. From left: seafood sauce, sriracha mayo (did not taste test), nam pla, sweet chili sauce
One of our staff members from Thailand strongly recommended we try seafood sauce.
The green chili and cilantro stood out as highlights. In Thailand, this sauce is enjoyed on deep fried fish and steamed shrimp. We thought it would also go well with kamaboko.
Next, we chose the sweet chili sauce, which is popular around the world. In Thailand, it is usually used on chicken. A thick sauce with a sweet flavor profile, it's a favorite among all ages.
The staff member also brought some homemade prik nam pla. Prik refers to chili peppers. The spiciness of the peppers complement the nam pla's umami.
Now it is time to taste test the different sauces!
First, we tried the seafood sauce.
Our thoughts were mostly positive. The seafood sauce added a refreshing taste to the kamaboko, and its fragrance cut through the slight fishiness of kamaboko. However, we also noted that the cilantro may not appeal to some people.
Meanwhile, the sweet chili sauce received universal approval among our staff.
The sauce was a great change of pace from the typical kamaboko. Some likened the flavor to ebi-chili, a shrimp chili dish popular in Japan. We think most people would like the combination.
Finally, we taste tested the prik nam pla.
The prik nam pla was another hit. Some of us preferred it over regular soy sauce. We thought it would be a particularly great choice for people who want a spicy sauce.
Overall, we concluded that Thai sauces are an amazing match with kamaboko. Some of our staff thought all three sauces would be perfect with a glass of beer. We highly recommend picking up a Thai sauce for your kamaboko!
Taiwan - Shallot Sauce, Soy Paste
Taiwanese condiments. From left: soy paste, shallot sauce
On the recommended of our Taiwanese staff, we tried soy paste and shallot sauce.
Also known as Taiwanese soy sauce, soy paste is slightly sweeter than Japanese soy sauce. It is commonly used on dan bing (egg pancakes), steamed vegetables, and dumplings.
Shallot sauce may be unfamiliar to many Japanese people. It is a widely used condiment in Taiwan, being a great match with a variety of dishes. The sauce is characterized by the fragrance of sauteed shallots.
First, we tried the soy paste.
With a similar taste to soy sauce, it was easy for us to enjoy. We also liked the thickness of the sauce. But some of us thought it was a little strong in flavor.
Overall, the soy paste was received well. How about the shallot sauce?
The flavorful shallot sauce made the kamaboko into its own side dish. Some of us even asked for rice to go with it. Conversely, others thought the sauce suited meats more than kamaboko.
Both Taiwanese sauces were a hit among most staff members. They successfully transformed kamaboko into a Taiwanese-style snack. We highly recommend them!
Europe and America - BBQ Sauce, Mint Sauce
Western condiments. From left: Hawaiian BBQ sauce (did not taste test), mint sauce, BBQ sauce, mint jelly (did not taste test).
Our American staff recommended we try BBQ sauce. Typically used to marinate pork or beef and to flavor grilled meats, we were curious how it would taste on kamaboko.
Meanwhile, one of our Japanese editors recommended a sauce they came across while living abroad. Mint sauce is used to top lamb chops in countries like the UK. As the name suggests, it has a refreshing scent of mint.
First up was the BBQ sauce.
We agreed the sauce itself tasted good, but it clashed with the kamaboko and drowned out its flavor.
Next up, we tried the mint sauce. Our first impression was that it had a powerful mint scent.
Taste testing the sauce, we had mixed reactions. Some of us thought the two went surprisingly well together. Others thought the flavors did not match.
During our taste testing, a staff member brought out Vegemite, an Australian condiment. It is also known as the world's worst-tasting jam.
We all agreed the Vegemite had such a strong flavor it completely overpowered the kamaboko.
In conclusion, the condiments from western countries were hit or miss. But we would stay away from putting Vegemite on kamaboko.
Our Top Recommendations
Eight staff members participated in the taste testing. We asked them to choose their favorite sauce (*).
1st place: Soy paste (4 votes)
2nd place: Sweet chili sauce (3 votes)
The staff thought kamaboko tasted best with Asian sauces. Particularly, the spiciness and sourness of Asian sauces complemented the flavor of kamaboko.
When we asked what their least favorite choices were, the western sauces ranked highest.
1st place: BBQ sauce (4 votes)
2nd place: Mint sauce (3 votes)
The western sauces overpowered the flavor of the kamaboko, and staff members agreed they work better with meats.
When searching for the right sauce, we recommend avoiding strong flavors and choosing something that complements kamaboko.
Enjoy Kamaboko on November 15!
By exploring different sauces, we learned that kamaboko can be paired with a variety of sauces. Beyond the selection we tried today, there are sure to be more great sauces and condiments.
Every November 15 is Kamaboko Day. Pair with the sauce of your choice and discover new ways to enjoy kamaboko!
Photos by Monami I
Sponsored by Suzuhiro Kamaboko