If you’re ever thinking of serving up a bowl of steaming hot ramen, either as a solo meal or to pass around the table for your friends and family to enjoy, toppings are one of the most important aspects of this delightful dish that are essential for mixing in as many different tastes and flavors as possible.
Narutomaki is one of these toppings that you will rarely find left absent from a scrumptious bowl of ramen, however, since it is usually one of the smaller ingredients compared to its counterparts, it can very easily go unnoticed, despite being an essential part of the entire meal.
Here is all you need to know about narutomaki (see also ‘What Does Triggerfish Taste Like? Everything You Need to Know!‘) including how it actually tastes, what it looks like, and a few other ways you can serve it if you can’t get enough of its delightfully chewy taste.
What Is Narutomaki?
Narutomaki is a type of steamed fish cake that is also made up of a range of different seafood including shrimp and squid and can be recognized immediately due to the spiral whirlpool shape that can be spotted on either side of the cake.
While there is a popular rumor that the name of Narutomaki is inspired by the famous Anime and Manga series of a similar name, Naruto, this is actually untrue and the name of the cake is instead derived from the Naruto whirlpools located at the Naruto Strait in Japan.
As you can imagine, these whirlpools took on a similar circular shape to the one seen on the narutomaki, so the name stuck.
Unfortunately, the popularity of narutomaki has been dwindling over recent decades, specifically because ingredients like fish cakes are now commonly replaced by eggs or deep red smoked meat which are seen as more vibrant and tasteful when mixed win with the sauces and spices of most ramen dishes.
However, this doesn’t mean narutomaki isn’t still used in many ramen recipes, along with being a common addition to many other noodle and rice-based recipes (see also ‘26 Ramen Recipes You Can’t Live Without‘).
What Does Narutomaki Taste Like?
Narutomaki is often described as having a chewy texture without being too soft to where it can be hard to bite into.
Instead, it has more of a stringy texture which can easily be pulled apart which is what makes it an easy and appetizing side ingredient to a bowl of noodles or rice since it won’t taste too heavy or unpleasant when mixed with the softer ingredients mixed into the bowl.
The reason narutomaki tastes this way is because the fish is turned into a fine past before being steamed, making the ingredient a lot softer, but still containing that slightly creamy flavor that many of us become so accustomed to with fish paste.
In terms of the actual amount of seafood flavor you will be getting with each bite, narutomaki actually contains a much milder taste rather than being too overpowering, despite being packed with an array of different seafood ingredients.
This can come as a surprise to many people who would expect the taste to be much more prominent, however this milder taste does mean that the narutomaki can blend far easier into the sauces and spices without overpowering the taste, and instead only working to help elevate the flavors rather than diluting them.
How Healthy Is Narutomaki?
Narutomaki is an incredibly healthy addition to any recipe you add it to, especially since one cake only adds up to around 70 calories, and since most people only use a few slices rather than the entire cake as part of their meal, you won’t have to worry about putting on any pounds while tucking into this delicious seafood treat.
In fact, since it is entirely made up of a mixture of different seafood, the majority of these calories actually come from the high amount of protein contained in the fish cake which replaces any fat, making narutomaki extremely nutrtious.
The only real downside to narutomaki is the fairly high sodium content, however because people usually won’t eat any more than a few slices at a time, this isn’t too big of a problem and can easily be avoided as long as you don’t go overboard.
Narutomaki can therefore not only add some much-needed texture and a distinctive seafood flavor to a noodle or rice dish, it is also extremely healthy in it’s own right, especially in terms of its high protein count, so it’s never a bad idea to find some at your local food store, or even make some narutomaki yourself.
How To Prepare Narutomaki
Narutomaki can unfroutnately be fairly difficult to find in many food stores and if you do eventually spot it, more often than not it can be sold at incredibly high prices.
This is why preparing narutomaki yourself, which requires only a few ingredients, is often the far cheaper way to use this delightful side-dish as part of your future meals, and luckily it can be made in just a few minutes.
- 7 ounces of non-oily white fish filets
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 egg white
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 1 tbsp sugar
- Red food coloring
Step 1) Start boiling a large pot of water and place a steamer basket over the top.
Step 2) Start preparing the fish by removing the skin from the filets along with any excess fat and any bones you find. Make sure to also wash the fish in a colander under some cold running water to make sure it’s completely clean to eat.
Step 3) Chop up the fish and mix it with the egg white, sugar, salt and mirin in a food processor bowl. This will only take a few minutes until the mixture becomes nice and smooth.
Step 4) Transfer half of this paste to a small bowl and add in the red coloring until the mixture turns to a bright pink.
Step 5) You will then want to line a work surface with a plastic wrap and then use a spatula, or similar kitchen equipment, to spread the white half of the fish paste onto the wrap. You want to try making a rectangle shape when doing this.
Step 6) Spread the pink paste over the white paste while leaving a half-inch border along the edges of the rectangle.
Step 7) Carefully start rolling the fish paste together like you would with a jelly roll while using the plastic wrap to guide it into place without the mixtures getting too messy.
Step 8) Next, tightly wrap the roll in a fresh plastic wrap and then place it into a steamer basket, covered, for about 15 minutes until the cake becomes firm and begins to hold its shape easily.
Whether you’re in the mood for a delicious and savory udon noodle soup or even an easy rice-based stir-fry, it’s never a bad idea to mix in a few slices of narutomaki with it’s mild seafood flavor that perfectly compliments the deep and rich taste of soft noodles along with any flavorful sauces you decide to pair it with.
While it goes best with a scrumptious bowl of rame, don’t be afraid to experiment with trying narutomaki as a delicious addition to any of your favorite recipes.
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