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Monday, July 8, 2013

Itawasa (板わさ)

It's been so hot recently, I need a break from cooking. Everything becomes an unwanted source of heat: the oven, the stove, even the toaster. So I decreed it was time to bust out some easy eats that were sans-heat.

Also, sometimes my blog amazes me, in that some of the simplest stuff I haven't shared with you. Itawasa has to be one of the simplest dishes to try and make at home!

Itawasa is slices of kamaboko served in the same fashion as sashimi-- very simply with shoyu and wasabi.

I have way too much fun with wasabi
I'm infamous for these food ideas that you can barely call a recipe, but I still wanted to bring this idea to you as it is a great way to experience kamaboko.

This is also a fantastic way to experience and experiment with different soy sauces. Because kamaboko is sweet and mild flavored, this is the time to really try out all those funky artisanal soy sauces you've seen but haven't had a chance to try.

Light soy sauce? Try it out. Dashi soy sauce? Go for it. Yuzu soy sauce or smoked soy sauce? Tell me how you like it!

I find itawasa to be perfect for trying out a variety of condiments because you never have to worry you will overpower a dish, and it's a lot cheaper than sashimi.

Itawasa is named after the cedar boards that kamaboko is traditionally molded on, "isa," and "wasa" refers to the wasabi.

Itawasa (板わさ)
Cutting away the board

1 loaf of kamaboko
1 tbs of shoyu (no need to measure, it's to taste)
wasabi to taste

You can remove the kamaboko from the wooden board two ways: 1) slip your knife between the kamaboko and wood and slice it off. 2) Cut the individual slices and peel them from the board, careful not to break the pieces.

It doesn't have to be exactly 1/4"
Both ways work just as well, the first is faster, but the second way you get as much of the kamaboko off as possible. The first method leaves a thin shred of kamaboko clinging to the wood unless you're really good with a knife. Be careful with this, my dog Tiara once stole it off the counter and tried to eat it, and I had splinters all over my living room.

Slice the kamaboko into approximately 1/4" halfmoon slices (width-wise). Arrange on a plate to your fancy, fanned out or stacked in a pattern like I did.

The pattern I chose
Feeling really fancy? You can even manipulate the kamaboko into shapes like a knot or a braid, or cut it in a fan wave.

Serve with shoyu and wasabi to dip in, and I recommend rice and miso soup as accompaniments, or if it's way too hot for that, consider cold noodles!
See Also:
Jalapeno Cheese Age-Gyoza 
Kaki Kohaku Namasu
Shoyu Tamago


  1. Super stunning photo(s)--I love the color, light and clarity--wow! Also, I have the same cute apple green sauce container, found on Geary St in SF. Love this blog.

    1. Ah thanks! I'm really working on my photo skills, I have to say I've learned a lot since I started blogging last year but still have tons to learn.

      I love the little ceramic sauce containers ^.^ So cheap, but really cute! I have a couple different colors of the same design. <3