When one thinks of Japan’s food culture, as a nation surrounded by the sea, one cannot help but think of fish. There are fisheries from north to south all across the nation, with a variety of fish caught throughout the seasons – and a matching variety of cooking methods to suit each region’s unique traditions.
One cooking technique is kamaboko, which adds seasoning to minced white-fleshed fish, after which it is cooked by steaming, baking or another method. While its shape, taste, and texture vary from region to region, kamaboko is prized as a delicious, healthy and traditional dish that makes the most of the fish’s nutrients.
WIthin this tradition, Miyagi Prefecture boasts the largest production and consumption of Sasa Kamaboko. The prefecture is blessed with vast fishing grounds just off of the Sanriku Coast, for many years a source of large quantities of sea bream, flounder, salmon and other staple fish.
There are a number of hypotheses regarding the origins of Miyagi’s Sasa Kamaboko, but according to one theory, it started when abundant catches of flounder continued in the early Meiji Period (1868-1912), and a kamaboko shop in Sendai City beat minced flounder by hand, shaped the fish inside bamboo leaves, and baked them to preserve them and promote consumption of flounder. With sasa being the word for bamboo grass, Sasa Kamaboko was born. As to why the dish took the shape of a bamboo leaf, according to one theory, it’s said that it was inspired by the bamboo leaf in the family crest of the Date clan, which controlled Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures during the Edo Period (1603-1868).
Miyagi’s Sasa Kamaboko is a popular treat that brings out the the best in a fish’s flavor. It’s also a popular souvenir, so if you ever visit Miyagi Prefecture be sure to hunt some down!
Photo by KANEZAKI Co., Ltd.
1-1-1 Chuo Aoba-ku Sendai City Miyagi Prefecture
Food Kingdom Miyagi
Dila Sendai Building 1-1-1 Chuo Aoba-ku Sendai City Miyagi Prefecture