Fish cake is a famous food in East Asia. In fact, there are a lot of ways how to eat it. Some would love to enjoy it as a snack, while some eat it as a side dish. Regardless of how you like to eat fish cake, no one can deny that it’s tasty and fun to eat. For example, they call fried fish cake as Satsuma Age in Kagoshima Prefecture in Japan. While in South Korea, they call it odeng.
What is Satsuma Age?
Satsuma Age is a fried fish cake made from minced fish meat. It’s a Kagoshima local food that can be a snack or a side dish. They would combine minced fish meat with flour and spices before molding it into different shapes. In addition to that, they would mix other ingredients into the fish meat to make the paste.
Although the main ingredient is fish meat, the paste also includes other seafood such as squid, octopus, and shrimp. It also has vegetables such as onions, pickled ginger, scallion, etc. On the other hand, it also contains wood ear mushrooms and other condiments such as sugar and salt.
In addition, the type of fish they use in making the paste varies. As a matter of fact, they usually put two or more kinds of fish.
Since the ingredients are mostly seafood and vegetables, it’s a feast of different flavors. Satsuma Age is not just delicious, but it’s also healthy.
Satsuma Age History
During early times, the Japanese make fish paste products as a way of eating large kinds of fish without waste. This was also the time when storage processes were not yet as efficient as they are today.
They made Kamaboko first during the Heian period. Locals would wrap fish paste around a bamboo stick. Then, they would bake it for a few minutes. At first, they called this dish Chikuwa. But due to its shape which resembles bamboo, they called it Kamaboko later on.
Meanwhile, the Satsuma Age that we know today became popular. During the Edo period, frying Kamaboko in oil quickly became a trend. At that time, the method of deep-frying is not yet widely used. However, it was also during this time when Shimazu Nariakira, the 28th head of Satsuma domain, deepened ties with Ryukyu.
Ryukyu is the name of Okinawa back then. Since the Chinese highly influenced the prefecture, the locals also adapted the method of frying foods in oil.
When people started frying Kamaboko, they called in Chikiagi at first. Even so, some people find Chikiagi a bit dull. So, Shimazu made some improvements to it. The final result became popular because of its taste, longer shelf life, and high nutritional value. Later on, they called it Tsukeage.
Many specialty stores also opened and it also became famous in other areas. Satsuma Age fried food also appeared in Kitagawa Morisada in 1837 and in Usonarubeshi in 1834. With this in mind, they began calling it Satsuma Age during the latter half of the Edo period.
What are the different types of fried Kamaboko?
While it’s a local food of Kagoshima, other regions may have the same dish as Satsuma Age. In addition to that, the name of the dish may also be different. Another thing that may change is the set of ingredients they use. To know more about the different kinds of fried Kamaboko, continue reading below.
Of course, Satsuma Age may be the most popular among the different kinds of fried Kamaboko. The main ingredient is the surimi which is made from walleye pollock, croaker, and lizard eye fish. Both Kagoshima and Kansai use this kind of surimi. However, they call it Tempura in the Kansai region. They also add it to Oden and other hot pot dishes. Additionally, they eat Satsuma Age / Tempura with ginger soy sauce or wasabi soy sauce.
Surimi is made from minced fish meat and other kinds of seafood. It is in a form of a paste that comes in different colors, textures, and shapes.
Jakoten is a specialty food of the Uwajima region. Since they use small white fish, they grind the fish meat along with its bones. Thus, making the color of the paste darker. Jakoten, on the other hand, is rich in calcium and is often a favorite ingredient in Uwajima rice dishes.
Haku Takashi (White Sky)
Haku Takashi directly translates to the white sky or white heaven. They called it Haku Takashi because it does not have the usual color of fried foods. It’s a famous dish in Osaka and is known for not having sugar content. Also, they use kelp and wood ear mushroom to bring additional flavors.
Is Satsuma Age healthy?
Due to its fish content, Satsuma Age has many health benefits. Even though it’s fried, it’s actually low in calories and fats. To begin with, it is rich in high-quality protein. It also has a good balance of amino acids. Protein is not just beneficial to tissue repair, but it’s also great for bone, skin, and hair. Lastly, foods that contain the high-quality protein are good for people with high blood pressure.
Since some Satsuma fish cake may have ground bones mixed with fish meat, it can be a good source of calcium as well. Calcium is not only good for children’s bone growth, but it also helps prevent osteoporosis in the elderly.
Satsuma Age Recipe
Satsuma Age is not just convenient to eat, but it’s also easy to make. While making the fish meat paste can be quite a work, it’s actually available in many supermarkets.
Satsuma Age Ingredients
|Good for 2-3 persons|
|minced fish meat paste (surimi)||500 g|
|carrot||1/3 of a piece|
|mirin||1 1/2 tbsp.|
|sake||1 1/2 tbsp.|
|grated Japanese white radish (daikon)||appropriate amount|
|grated ginger||appropriate amount|
|burdock (gobo)||1/4 of a piece|
|egg (large)||2 pcs.|
|cooking oil||appropriate amount|
How to make Satsuma Age?
Start by preparing the ingredient by rinsing them. Make sure to remove the Iye from the burdock. Grate the ginger and Japanese white radish thinly. Then, cut the carrots and beans into small pieces.
Once the carrots and beans are cut, boil them until soft. However, do not overboil them so they will not be soggy. Drain excess water before letting them cool down.
In a clear bowl, combine minced fish meat paste, sake, and mirin together. Then, add all the ingredients except flour, egg, and oil. Mold the fish cake using your bare hands or you can also use molds. Any size and shape of molds will do.
When the fish pastes are already molded, dip them in whisked eggs before coating them with flour. Once the oil is hot enough, fry them until they become golden brown in color.
Finally, garnish the Satsuma Age with grated daikon and ginger before serving.
Where to buy Satsuma Age?
Since its growing popularity, Satsuma Age has become one of the favorite souvenirs from Kagoshima Prefecture. If you want to bring home authentic fried Kamaboko, check out these famous souvenir shops in the area.
Kanba Gamo Nishida Store (勘場蒲鉾 西田店)
Kanba Gamo is one of the popular souvenir shops in Kagoshima. In fact, they already have three stores in different locations. They sell delicious souvenir items including Satsuma Age.
Tokunagaya was founded in 1902 and is one of the oldest Satsuma Age stores in the area. The shop claims that they are particular with the manufacturing method of their products. They also boast the process of heating their Satsuma Age in two stages. With this in mind, it brings out the flavor of the fish even better. It also reduces the greasiness of the fried fish cake.
Arimuraya Korimoto Main Store (有村屋 郡元本店)
Arimuraya was founded during the first year of the Taisho era. They only use fresh raw materials and still follow the traditional way of making the Satsuma Age. Their fried Kamaboko is also known to be elastic and sweet since it has sake in it.
Satsuma Age is Kagoshima Prefecture’s version of fried fish cake. It’s a mixture of minced fish meat, vegetables, and some seasonings. It can be eaten as a snack, as sake’s partner, and even as a side dish. Meanwhile, visitors of Kagoshima also buy this from souvenir shops to bring home with them.