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Jewish Recipes --> Jewish Cooking Terms --> Imitation Crab meat Surimi

Surimi (擂り身, lit. "ground meat" in Japanese) refers to a product made from white-fleshed fish (such as pollock or hake) or lean meat that has been pulverized to a paste and attains a rubbery texture when cooked. Surimi is a much-enjoyed food product in many Asian cultures and is available in many shapes, forms, and textures. The most common surimi product in the western market is imitation or artificial crab legs.


Lean meat from fish or land animals is first separated or minced. The meat then may be rinsed numerous times to eliminate undesirable odors. The resulting meat is then beaten and pulverized to form a gelatinous paste. Depending on the desired texture and flavour of the surimi product, the gelatinous paste is mixed with differing proportions of additives such as starch, egg white, salt, vegetable oil, sorbitol, sugar, soy protein and seasonings. If the surimi is to be packed and frozen, food-grade cryoprotectants also are added while the meat paste is being mixed. Under most circumstances, surimi is immediately processed, formed and cured into surimi products at the time it is produced.

The resulting surimi, depending on the type of fish and whether it was rinsed in the production process, is typically tasteless and must be flavored. According to the USDA Food Nutrient Database 16-1, fish surimi contains about 76 percent water, 15 percent protein, 6.85 percent carbohydrate, 0.9 percent fat and 0.03% cholesterol.

In North America and Europe, surimi also alludes to fish-based products manufactured using this process. A generic term for fish-based surimi in Japanese is "fish-puréed products" (魚肉練り製品 gyoniku neri seihin).

Uses and Products

Surimi is a useful ingredient for producing various kinds of processed foods. Furthermore, it allows a manufacturer to imitate the texture and taste of a higher-quality product such as lobster tail using a relatively low-cost material. Surimi is also an inexpensive source of protein.

In Asian cultures, surimi is eaten as a food product in its own right and is seldom used to imitate other foods. In Japan fish cakes (Kamaboko) and fish sausages, as well as other extruded fish products are commonly sold as cured surimi. In Chinese cuisine, fish surimi, often called "fish paste" (魚漿, lit. fish puree), is used directly as stuffing or made into balls.

In the west, surimi products are usually imitation seafood products, such as crab, abalone, shrimp and scallop, however several companies do produce surimi sausages, lunchmeats, hams, and burgers. A couple of examples include: Salmolux salmon burgers, Seapack surimi ham, SeaPack surimi salami, and Seapack surimi rolls. A patent was issued for the process of making even higher quality proteins from fish such as in the making of imitation steak from surimi.

List of Surimi food

* Chikuwa
* Fish ball
* Hanpen
* Kamaboko
* Tsukune
* Tsumire


The process was developed in Japan or East Asia over 900 years ago and is used in the making of kamaboko or cured surimi products. Industrialized surimi-making process was developed in 1960 by Nishitani Yōsuke of Japan's Hokkaido Fisheries Experiment Institute to process the increased catch of fish and to revitalize Japan's fish industry.

Chemistry of Surimi Curing

The curing of the fish paste is caused by the polymerization of myosin when heated. The species of fish is the most important factor that affects this curing process. Many pelagic fish with higher fat contents lack that kind of heat-curing myosin, hence they are not suitable for making surimi.

Certain kinds of fish, such as the Pacific whiting, cannot form firm surimi. The surimi maker has to add egg white or potato starch into the fish paste to increase its strength. Before the outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), it was industrial practice to add bovine blood plasma into the fish paste to help its curing or gel-forming. Today some manufacturers may use a transglutaminase to improve its texture.


This is an incomplete list of fish used to make surimi:

* Milkfish (Chanos chanos)
* Swordfish (Xiphias gladius)
* Tilapia
o (Oreochromis mossambicus)
o (Oreochromis niloticus niloticus)
* Big-head pennah croaker (Pennahia macrocephalus)
* Golden threadfin bream (Nemipterus virgatus)
* Bigeyes (Priacanthus arenatus)
* Pacific whiting (Merluccius productus)
* Alaska pollock (Theragra chalcogramma)

Turkey surimi

The surimi process is also used in the making of turkey products. It is employed in making products such as turkey burgers, turkey sausage, turkey pastrami, turkey franks, turkey loafs and turkey salami.

Sept 2005 - 2014 - Kosher Recipes - Kosher Cooking - Jewish Cooking - Jewish Recipes - Jewish Foods