“Kamaei Bread Roll” – Otaru - Soul food from Otaru.

Have you ever had a bread roll?  This might not be the kind of bread roll you’re used to…
Kamaei was established in 1905 and has become a long-standing staple of the Otaru community.  Kamaei gets its name from the much-loved Japanese dish of fried fish paste kamaboko.  Today, kamaboko and the Kamaei name are synonymous for Hokkaido natives.
There are many different varieties of kamaboko, but when talking about Kamaei, most will often think of their famous bread roll.  
Kamaei Inc. president, Akira Sato, created the original kamaboko bread roll in 1962.  In his search to find out whether or not kamaboko could be eaten as a snack, he tried wrapping bread with surimi (the fish paste used to make kamaboko).  With this, the bread roll was born!
In order to try the famous bread roll, I went directly to Kamaei’s factory store located along the Otaru canal.  At the factory, frequented by many tourists, I finally found the famous Kamei bread roll!
I asked shop manager Miura san about the bread roll.  He told me, “The bread roll is fried, surimi-wrapped bread.  The surimi is made from Suketo cod, pork and onion, and seasoned with pepper.  With all these delicious flavors, the kamaboko can be enjoyed as is, without added sauce or flavoring.”
I asked Miura san if the bread roll was something we could make easily at home.  He smiled and said, “While some people can do it, most people find that when they try to fry the roll, the bread absorbs too much of the oil and becomes mushy.  However, Kamaei has a secret to keeping the bread’s crisp texture.”
The secret is to use very thin slices of bread, no bigger than 5mm thick.  The thinness of the bread gives the roll a delicious crunch.  There’s also a secret technique to making the bread rolls, which are entirely handmade.  The bread is rolled by hand in the surimi.  The rolls are then steamed once and rapidly cooled.  Only then are the rolls fried.
At the factory, Kamaei will make from seven to eight hundred rolls per day on weekends and during the tourist season, but even on weekdays they make two to three hundred rolls.
Visitors can have a seat at one of the tables in the store to enjoy fresh bread rolls or they can take their rolls to go.
In addition to the bread roll, Kamaei also offers the classic ‘hiraten’, a wiener roll, and bacon “bread dome.”  There’s so much variety, you might have a hard time deciding once you see all of Kamaei’s kamaboko case. 
Kamaei’s bread roll is sold only through direct purchase at the store.  If you find yourself in Hokkaido, why not stop by Kamaei and try a bread roll!
■ Kamaei
■ Kamaei Factory Store
Otaru, Sakae-cho 3-7
TEL : 0134-25-5802
● Open Daily 9:00~19:00
● Closed on New Year's Day
* For other information on other shops where Kamaei products can be found, see the Kamaei homepage listed above.
(Hokkaido Likers writer Chiba Takako)
 (Photography by Hokkaido Likers Photo-writer Itsuki)