Hello everyone! As a report needed for SJCI, now I will write about the last SJCI study trip to Suzuhiro Kamaboko Factory.
Maybe some of you haven’t heard about Kamaboko. What is Kamaboko? Kamaboko is a Japanese Food, made from seafood. Fish meat is pounded into a paste that is mixed with several ingredients and further can be steamed, poached, grilled or deep fried. Kamaboko is a healthy and natural food, it doesn’t contain preservative and other additives, and also contain a high amount of mineral and amino acid, including essential amino acid. The very distinctive feature of Kamaboko is its unique smooth and fine texture. Here’s some kamaboko picture to give you some insight about how exactly it looks like 😀
Around Japan there are about 900 Kamaboko maker each has its distinctive characteristic. Suzuhiro Kamaboko Factory is one of the biggest of all. Located at Odawara, approximately 1,5-2 hours drive by bus, this kamaboko factory has already owned its big name. Has been a family business since 1865, this industries has expanded its vision of not only making Kamaboko, but also to introduce Kamaboko throughout Japan and world. Place where it is located is not only a factory but also several minutes drive from the factory there are special shop to sell kamaboko, kamaboko museum, and a workshop where visitors can individually experience kamaboko making and eating (of course ^^).
At that day, first we visited the kamaboko factory. Guided by its own CEO, we were able to observe almost every step of kamaboko making. At first, white fish meat is filleted to remove bones and skin. Furthermore, to remove fat and blood filleted fish is washed with water from Hakone mountain. After that fish pound was mixed with salt, sugar, egg whites, fish sauce, and a bit of Japanese sake. After it is seasoned well, the kamaboko was shaped and further processed such as grilled, steamed, or deepfried.
Beside seeing the kamaboko making facilities we also see another facilities such as its quality control lab (where they conduct organoleptic test for each product every day and also shelf life test), packaging material warehouse , employee’s washroom and locker. Hygiene was very important for factories that deal with food product, especially this company deals with such a perishable food source, fishery product. The production facility is surrounded by a hallway, this is to prevent dust and other contaminant to get inside the production facilities. Air that is circulating inside the production facilities is also filtered first. All year round, temperature inside the production facilities is kept in a same temperature to ensure a good kamaboko is being made throughout the year.
After finishing the factory tour we were taken to the kamaboko museum where we can experience a step of kamaboko making, the shaping of kamaboko.
So basically, we were given a fish paste and we are taught to shape it like an original kamaboko shape. When you see the original kamaboko shape actually it is quite simple, like a long igloo. But believe me, it is really hard to deal with this fish paste, it is all sticky and difficult to be shaped.
To shape a kamaboko we only need one knife (which we can only use one side) and the board where kamaboko will be put. Fish meat is given in a ball shaped and we have to make it flat, fold it again, and slam it for several times. This procedure is done to give kamaboko its chewy taste. After that, here comes the more difficult step to shape the kamaboko with the board so it will be like kamaboko (like a long igloo as I have mentioned before). Believe me it is really difficult, and it is said that years experience is needed for someone to be skillful on doing this.
After kamaboko, we also tried to make chikuwa. Chikuwa is shaped by rolling it into a slender thin stick, that’s why chikuwa has a hole inside it and this is also difficult. But it was very fun! Our kamaboko was then steamed and our chikuwa was then grilled, we can take it home and eat it! ^^
At last we had discussion session, at that time it is explained that according to the statistics kamaboko demand is decreasing among Japanese, yes, this delicious food is not that popular again among Japanese. But in contrast, the demand of this food is increasing overseas. Even this company has open several branches like in China or Thailand. It is a good thing that this food has expanded its market overseas, but I think Japanese people (especially young adult) interest about this particular food has to be continuously risen up again! I also think that this case is not only happening on Japan, many kind of Indonesian traditional food is not that popular anymore among Indonesian young adults because it is considered as old-fashioned and not as exclusive as many imported modern food product.
In this case many people from all over the world begin to like it and consume it. Even some research is being conducted to particular traditional food that is fermented for example Indonesian tempe, by overseas researcher, because of its good nutrition value and another health value.
Well, all that I can say is let’s try to appreciate our own traditional food by eating it more frequently and spreading the news about it! If it is not the young generation, who will preserve the culture of such a healthy, delicious, and special traditional food? 😀
Oh, and I have every conducted simple research with my friends back at my home university about Indonesian traditional fermented shrimp paste named terasi. The research is done by adding bacteria inoculums and manipulating the salt concentration added to see pH change and also protein concentration. This shrimp paste is really delicious and you can add it together with chilli to make delicious Indonesian chilli sauce called sambal. You should try it sometimes! 😀
Afifa Ayu Koesoema