satsumaSatsuma-age is a fried fishcake that is originally from Kagoshima, Japan. The dough is a mixture of surimi and flour that hardens when fried.   Satsuma-age is Satsuma region’s specialty. In Okinawa, it is identified as chiki-agi.

Satsuma-age is filled with fish paste seasoned with sugar, salt and other spices, and are molded into several shape preferred. These fishcake can also contain onion, Welsh onion and other vegetables, Beni Shoga, octopus, squid, shrimp and other sea foods and some spices. In some part of Japan, specifically the fishing villages, the Satsuma-age is made from local fishes, like sardines, bonito, shark, mackerel, etc. Sometimes they may also contain mixes of two or more kinds of fish.

Satsuma-age are usually eaten plainly or lightly roasted. They are dipped in ginger and soy sauce, or soy sauce and mustard. They are typically used as toppings for udon, oden or stewed dishes (nimono).

As time flies, the Satsuma-age gains varieties. Being widely spread throughout the country, they are made using different styles of preparation or cooking.

  • Hiraten, these are the flat Satsuma-age
  • Maruten, these are Satsuma-age that are made like a thin disk. These are typically eaten with udon in Fukuoka, Kyushu.
  • Gobouten, these are the Satsuma-age that are wrapped around burdock-like sticks.
  • Ikaten, the Satsuma-age enveloped around with squid tentacles.
  • Takoten, these type of Satsuma-age are wrapped around sliced octopus. Sometimes they are shaped like that of the takoyaki.
  • Tamanegiten, these are Satsuma-age with onion.
  • Bomb, these are the Satsuma-age wrapped around boiled eggs.

Satsuma-Age (Deep-Fried Fish Cakes)


  • 1 lb. (450g) aji horse mackerel fillets, bone and skin removed
  • 1/2 lb. (230g) cod or pollock fillets, bone and skin removed
  • 2 oz. (60g) gobo burdock root, shaved as if sharpening a pencil
  • All-purpose dashi stock (happo dashi)
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying
  • Grated ginger and grated wasabi as condiments
  • Soy sauce for dipping

Seasonings (Dashi)

  • 1/3 cup (80ml) dashi stock (see below)
  • 2 tsp. sake
  • 1 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 1/4 oz. (40g) white miso
  • Tamamoto (mix 1 large egg yolk and 1 tbsp. vegetable oil in a ramekin ahead of time)


  1. Lightly season the mackerel fillets with salt on a paper-lined sheet pan, then cover, with plastic wrap. Let it sit in a refrigerator for 2 hours.
  2. Pulse and grind the fillets into a coarse paste in a food processor. Remove, and put into a bowl. Set aside.
  3. Blanch the shreds of burdock root in the all-purpose dashi stock. Drain. Set aside.
  4. In a food processor, pulsate the cod or pollock while steadily pouring 1/3 cup of the dashi stock.
  5. Add sake, sugar, soy sauce and white miso, then give a few more pulses. Transfer the mixture into a large bowl.
  6. Add the aji horse mackerel paste, the egg-oil mixture (tamamoto) and the burdock shavings. Mix well with rubber spatula.
  7. Make 12 oval cakes, about 2/3 inch (1.5cm) thick. Lay on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  8. To deep fry: In a large heavy saucepan, heat the oil to 340° F (170° C). Deep fry the cakes until golden brown, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer to a paper-lined plate to drain excess oil.
  9. To serve: Cut each cake into quarters and arrange on a plate with the grated ginger and wasabi on the side. Serve soy sauce in individual small dishes for dipping the cakes.




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