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The Japanese eat a lot of fish and seafood in general and there are some quite unusual things that they make with it. One example of that is kamaboko.

To make it, white fish is filleted, puréed, mixed with spices and ingredients for flavour before being formed into loaf shapes as in the picture. Then it’s steamed until it’s cooked and firm. The finished kamaboko can then be served hot or cold. It’s usually sliced quite thinly and often served on top of bowls of noodles or in soups.

Sounds nice, doesn’t it? And you’d imagine that it would be rather hard to get hold of in the Western world, but the surprising thing is that it’s readily available here and rather cheap. We know kamaboko as crab sticks.

Ah, crab sticks. They’ve never been near a crab. To be fair, some of the better ones may actually have some crab-meat mixed in for flavour, but most of them don’t have the slightest hint of crustacean in them to the point where they now legally have to be called “crab flavour sticks” in most places.

Okay, so the kind of crab sticks we can actually buy aren’t actually up there with the real Japanese kanikama (short for kani-kamaboko), but try slicing them thin and adding them to soup. If you squint your eyes and punch yourself in the head a few times, you might just be able to imagine you’re immersing yourself in exotic cuisine.