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What’s Katsuobushi

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The katsuo is a pelagic species of fish that is commonly found in tropical and warm temperate waters worldwide. It is known by its English common name, skipjack tuna (scientific name: katsuwonus pelamis), and sometimes also referred to as bonito.
The katsuo can grow to be as large as one meter, but is mostly caught when it is 50 centimeters. The katsuo's body is spindle-shaped, with a deep indigo blue back and silvery white flank and stomach. Dark vertical stripes develop on its stomach upon death.
In Japan, the katsuo inhabits the waters off the Pacific coast. Migratingnorth on the Black Current in spring, and moving south in autumn, it can be caught in various areas of Japan. Therefore, it has been a part of the Japanese people's diet from ancient times.
The katsuo is enjoyed as sashimi, or seared and served with herbs. Canned katsuo cooked in soy sauce and sugar is also commonly sold in Japan.


A Traditional Gift for Celebrations

Katsuobushi has traditionally been sent in return for various gifts, such as wedding gifts, baby gifts, gifts for children starting school, and gifts to celebrate recovery from illness.
This is because the obushi (back side) and mebushi (stomach side) fit perfectly together, like a close couple. The two parts locked together resemble a tortoise shell, a symbol of long life. Alternatively written 勝男武士 , which stands for "winning samurai," katsuobushi ( 鰹節 ) has long been believed to bring good luck.

obushi mebushi

Making katsuobushi from katsuo

Katsuobushi is a fermented food product unique to Japan. Fine shavings dressed with a dash of soy sauce can be an excellent side dish alone, or can be served as toppings for tofu and ohitashi (seasoned boiled greens) to complement their flavor. Most importantly, dashi soup stock made using katsuobushi shavings has formed the basis of Japanese cuisine, just as fond and bouillon have in Western cuisine, and tang, in Chinese cuisine.
Katsuobushi is a key ingredient in healthy, savory and highly diversified Japanese cuisine.

  1. 1 Filleting (The katsuo is beheaded. gutted and filleted into two or four blocks.)
  2. 2 Laying (The fillets are arranged neatly in a flat basket.)
  3. 3 Simmering (The fillets are simmered.)
  4. 4 Deboning (The bones are removed.)
  5. 5 Smoking and drying (The fillets are smoked.) At this stage the fillets are called arabushi. Hanakatsuo and katsuo-kezuribushi are made from arabushi.
  6. 6 Scraping (Any fat on the surface is scraped off.)
  7. 7 Molding and storing (The fillets are covered with mold, which ferments them and extracts their umami flavor.)
  8. 8 Sun-drying and cleaning (The fillets are laid out in the sun to dry.) The fillets can now be called honkarebushi. Katsuobushi-kezuribushi is made from honkarebushi.

From katsuobushi to kezuribushi

A hard wood-like block of katsuobushi must be shaved into kezuribushi (dried skipjack tuna flakes) using a special plane-like instrument every time it is needed in cooking.
Although individually-packed ready-to-eat kezuribushi has become mainstream, if you keep katsuobushi tightly packed in a plastic bag in the freezer, you can enjoy the aroma and savor of freshly shaved katsuobushi for a long time.

Shaving katsuobushi

1 Wipe away the mold on the surface with a dry cloth and begin shaving the skinless side.

2 The katsuobushi should be held with the head-side facing inwards for easier movement.

Katsuobushi kezuri:a special instrument used to prepare bonito flakes The remaining katsuobushi should be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and kept in the refrigerator.

Preparing dashi with kezuribushi(makes about 800ml)

  1. 1

    When it comes to a boil turn off the stove.

  2. 2

    Put 30 grams of kezuribushi In to the boiling water.

  3. 3

    Wait about 1 to 2 minutes.

  4. 4

    Drain the dashi using a piece a cloth and wait one minute.

  5. 5

    A pan of savory dashi !

  6. 1L water : 30g kezuribushi the recipe for the perfect dashi.

Reference : Nihon Katsuobushi Kyoukai, Tokyo Katsuobushi rui Oroshi Shogyou Kyoudou Kumiai

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