Kamaboko is the Japanese name for a seafood substitute product made of surimi, a highly processed paste of white fish (see below).
In picture: imitation crabmeat sticks kanikama.
To produce kamaboko, minced surimi is mixed with various texture and flavour enhancing ingredients and/or colours, formed into semi-cylindrical slabs or other shapes and cooked by steaming until firm.
The resulting product is then served sliced hot or cold as it is, or mixed with various dishes.
One of the best known types of kamaboko found in Western countries is the imitation shellfish product kani-kamaboko or kanikama, kani meaning "crab" in Japanese.
Kanikama has a texture, appearance and a delicate, slightly sweet flavour somewhat resembling those of crab or shrimp and is mostly used as an inexpensive substitute for shellfish.
It is sold moulded in various shapes, like shrimp tails, crab claws or legs, sticks, scallops, shredded "crabmeat", etc. Besides artificial flavourings, some products may contain flavour concentrates of real shellfish.
Surimi is a fish paste made of lean white fish species and believed to be produced in Japan already in the 12th century. The process for making surimi developed from the efforts to preserve fish by removing the ingredients that cause it to spoil.
Scraps of white ocean fish, usually pollock, cod, shark, etc, are finely minced, salted, sieved, repeatedly washed and mixed with preservatives, producing a flavourless and colourless homogenous mass of fish proteins.
Seasoned and coloured in many ways, the surimi paste is used to create a broad variety of seafood products.
To produce the seafood substitute kamaboko (see above), surimi is mixed with ingredients like starch, egg white, water, monosodium glutamate and other, real or artificial, flavourings.