Cats Have Nine Lives, Tuna Has Two: What is Katsuobushi?

Buy/catch/don’t steal a skipjack tuna, also known as bonito.

Gut it.

Dry it.

Ferment it.

Smoke it.

Bop it.

As long as you follow most of those steps – likely all but the last – you might be able to enjoy katsuobushi (鰹節/かつおぶし), a staple ingredient in Japanese cuisine.

Yes, if you were a student in an introductory course to the food of Japan, you, eh let’s be fair, probably already knew that fish was going to be a common theme.  But katsuobushi, or more specifically, its shavings, are key.

Larger, thicker shavings are called kezurikatsuo and combined with kelp (kombu), are vital in preparing dashi, a fish-based soup stock.  Those of a smaller, thinner variety are hanakatsuo.  These plucky condiments are frequently found crowning okonomiyaki, hiyayakko (a cold tofu dish) and takoyaki, and true to the weird title of this blog post, are reborn when in close contact with heat;  save a little for Sunday school.

Tokyo - Katsuobushi (2)

I saw this machine in Tsukiji Market in Tokyo.  What do you do with it?  Shove one of those katsuobushi bricks into it, and out comes…

Tokyo - Katsuobushi (1)

tuna shavings.  If you feel that you are lacking somewhat in upper arm strength, you could buy a katsuobushi kezuriki (鰹節削り器/かつおぶしけずりき) and do the labor yourself.  These days however it is easy enough to find the end product in Japanese/East Asian supermarkets.

How do you feel about Japanese food now?




About buildingmybento

Bread, olive oil Waking up in Nakagin Sure does sound like me
This entry was posted in East & Southeast Asia, Food & Drink, Japan and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Cats Have Nine Lives, Tuna Has Two: What is Katsuobushi?

  1. rita w. says:

    when we were young kids in japan, we had to jobs. 1. de-beard the moyahsi and 2. shave the katsuo ino that box shaver. both jobs were tedious. but to this day, whenever i see moyashi that is no cleaned up, i think the cook is a lazy bum. 🙂

  2. Pingback: Japanese Onigiri Month, Part Three | buildingmybento


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