Chikuwa is a Japanese fish cake in the shape of a tube with a small centre.
To make it, you start by making a paste from fish surimi, egg white, starch, salt and sugar. The fish surimi -- mashed up fish -- is usually a purée of cheaper fish such as pollack, flying fish, shark, etc. More expensive grades of fish can be used, but the price of the Chikuwa end-product will be correspondingly higher.
The paste mixture is moulded around a stick -- bamboo or metal -- into a shape about 5 inches long by 1 inch wide (12 cm x 2 1/2 cm), then steamed, then broiled, grilled, or baked, as it is in Toyohashi, Japan. The stick is then removed.
Commercially, they are then cooled, packed and shipped.
Chikuwa can be eaten as a bar snack, chilled, and dipped in soy sauce, or sliced and used in stews such as oden. It is also used as a treat for dogs, owing to its cheapness.
When used in cooking, add Chikuwa in the final stages, as it is already cooked -- it just needs to be heated through.
Commercial manufacture of Chikuwa started in the 1830s.
"Chiku" in Japanese means "bamboo"; "chikuwa" means "bamboo ring."