Discover the art of the surimi masters

Discover the art of the surimi masters
By Katy DartfordCyril Fourneris
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In Japanese, its name means chopped fish. But the Surimi that has been produced in Japan for a millennium is nothing like the industrial sticks sold in Europe.

In this edition of Taste we're in Odawara in Japan, where surimi has been produced for a millennium.

But it's nothing like the industrial sticks sold in Europe. Here, its preparation is an ancestral know-how, handmade by masters.


Odawara is nestled between the mountains and the great Sagami Bay, south of Tokyo.

At the Suzuhiro Kamaboko Village, visitors can experience how the flagship product, Kamaboko, is made.

"Kamaboko, just like judo, is an art. It is of exceptional nobility. A way to value fish." says French Michelin-starred chef, Thierry Voisin, who lives in Japan.

Traditional kamaboko is made of fresh fish. In a few precise movements, the fillets are moved, ready for transformation.

"Working by hand allows us to check the quality of the fish one by one and adjust the cooking temperature and other parameters. The dough will be lighter, which is very important for the texture," explains Kamaboko master, Takashi Nakano.

Odawara has other benefits: The mountain water which permeates the fish paste is rich in minerals., making it perfect for shaping.

According to tradition, the fish is shaped with a knife on wooden planks, steam cooked and bathed in cold water.

"it looks machine-made as they are all the same. But it's done by hand!" says Thierry Voisin.

In the neighbouring buildings, elegant shops bear witness to the love the Japanese have for this refined dish, which they offer as presents during festivities.

"The taste is not distorted at all," says Thierry Voisin. "It's really the taste of fish. We feel the mirin that has been added, which brings a little sweetness."

"This is typical of Japan. We have the texture, the taste, I really want people to discover this product. For me, it's really exceptional"

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