Growing up I ate surimi quite a decent amount but but never knew it was called that. We just called it mock crab or mock shrimp, and used it for various things like fried rice and sushi- mainly sushi in things like California rolls, which was great because it was another fish option other than lox for people who can't easily get their hands on sushi grade raw fish.
In my country surimi isn't easy to come by, and the stuff that is available is nearly all made with gluten, and/or fake sugars and/or egg (not to mention MSG), making it not an option for me to buy. I've missed surimi so much that when I went to the US 2 years ago, I brought back 2 packages with me that was at least gluten free, and I think fake sugar free.
But I've missed it, and just made a discovery when browsing a website full of Korean recipes and came across this recipe for Korean fish cakes, called eomuk or odeng, also known as kamaboko in Japan, and it intrigued me. I played around with the recipe to make it suit my needs (paleo, gluten free, egg free, refined sugar free, shellfish free), and once it was cooked, I had that realization that I made surimi! So psyched!
Eomuk is often sold prepackaged in Asian stores, but making it at home really wasn't such a big deal! You can eat it as is, plain or with a dipping sauce like this. It is quite delicious that way.
Alternatively you can slice it up and use it in a variety of recipes. Eomuk soup is another traditional way to eat it (and is something I want to try soon), as also in kimbap/gimbap, Korean sushi (and obviously it works well in Japanese sushi too). But when I heard about eomuk bokkeum, stir fried eomuk, and how it is popular among children in Korea, I decided to give it a try. The original recipe for eomuk bokkeum calls for gochujang, Korean hot pepper paste, something I don't have; instead I decided to add something for heat (hot pepper flakes), something for umami (coconut aminos) and something for acidity (apple cider vinegar) to give it a similar flavor profile, and along with that I used some date syrup as sweetener, but then kept the rest of the ingredients the same. I served it to my oldest son, Lee, and his friend, and they both loved it, his friend saying "Oh, it's so yummy, I wish I had more!" (And this friend is not an adventurous eater- he doesn't like "weird" food.)
In short, quite the hit.
We scarfed it down.
The texture reminds me of a hot dog, so I want to try this in a bun with hot dog type toppings, and it also makes me want to try this recipe, just replacing the fish with chicken or turkey, and see if I can make homemade hot dogs this way.
Because it is somewhat greasy being deep fried, people often blanch these in water for a few minutes before using to remove the grease. I didn't bother, but feel free to do so. They freeze well.
Feel free to use whatever fish you have on hand or can get cheapest in this recipe.
I used fish with skin in this recipe- the skin didn't blend up; I had to fish it out, but then I fried it as well, and it was delicious. So if you use skinless fish that's great, and if not, you can do what I did and get another treat.
Eomuk, Kamaboko, Odeng- Homemade Korean Surimi Fish Cakes Recipe- Paleo, Egg Free, Refined Sugar Free, Gluten Free, /Nightshade Free, Grain FreeIngredients:
Approximately 720 grams, 1 lb 9.5 oz, or 5-6 small fillets of white fish
1 medium onion
3 cloves garlic
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon honey or sweetener of choice
2 teaspoon ground flax seeds or ground chia seeds
1/2-1 teaspoon pepper (optional)
3/4 cup tapioca starch or potato starch or corn starch (corn starch isn't paleo but it is cheaper)
1 tablespoon oil of choice, plus oil for frying
1. Blend everything other than the oil for frying in a food processor for a few minutes, until you get a smooth paste. If using fish with skin, fish it out now, wiping off the paste, and reserve to fry.
2. Heat oil in a deep skillet until hot.
3. Traditionally eomuk is made in a cylinder shape, by spreading it on a wide spatula, rolling it up with a knife, and pushing it into the oil, but it isn't so easy to get the shape perfect that way- next time I'm going to try wetting my hands to assist with shaping it.
4. Fry until brown on one side, making sure to not move it once dropped into the oil, until it is completely browned, then flip over and cook until all sides are browned.
5. Remove from oil, place in strainer to drain excess oil.
6. Use either immediately or store for later use.
Have you ever made or had surimi, eomuk, kamaboko, or odeng? If so, how did you have it? What is your favorite way to eat it?
Does this look like a recipe you'd try?