Fish Pastes and Fish Paste Products

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About
The former are English and the latter mainly Japanese.
Fish pastes (and kindred items such as bloater paste and shrimp paste) have figured at either high tea or afternoon tea in England, most often in delicate sandwiches. In the mid-20th century they were highly visible, in characteristic small jars with a bulging shape; but by the end of the century they were much less common. The paste consisted of a certain percentage of minced fish flesh, with additional spice (light) and colouring (muted).

Fish paste products of Japan are a different matter—big business, which accounts for something like 20 per cent of the huge Japanese fish catch. As a group, these products are called neri-seihin (literally, ‘kneaded products’). They are made of fish meat, usually a combination of two or three species of white fish reduced to a paste, to which salt and other secondary ingredients (various forms of starch, egg whites, flavourings, preservatives, etc.) are added. This paste is then shaped and heated so as to solidify it.