Seasonal Fishes: Katsuo/Bonito

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Bonito or “katsuo” in Japanese are extensively caught by fishermen from Numazu, Shimizu, Yaizu and Omaezaki Charbours. The main fishing areas are Shizuoka, Mie, Kochi & Miyazaki Prefectures.
It is also called “katsu” (Tohoku Region), “Honkatsuo” (Kyushu Island), “Magatsuo” (Shikoku and Kyushu Islands. N.B.: the same name designates another fish in other parts of Japan!), “Suji” (Yamaguchi & Wakayam Pref>).
It appears on the markets early Spring~Autumn as “sho gatsuo” (first bonito) and “modori gatsuo” end of Autumn.
They are traditionally line-caught but nets have been used extensively in recent years.

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It can be appreciated raw, as sashimi, preferably served with a saucer of soy sauce (shoyu) mixed with thin slices of fresh garlic, or with wasabi, a touch of lemon and shoyu, or as nigiri topped with grated fresh ginger a thin slice of garlic, unless you prefer grated fresh ginger with chopped thin leeks.

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Another very popular way to eat it that will please Europeans and North Americans alike, is “tataki”.
The fish is first grilled over charcoal until it is lightly cooked on the whole outside then plunged into ice water to stop it from cooking any longer. It is then cooked into large slices and served with freshly chopped daikon and thin leeks, “shiso” leaves (perilla/beefsteak plant) and wasabi.

Note 1: in restaurants specify whether you want the skin or not when ordering sashimi.

Note 2: the same fish is a staple food in Sri LAnka where it is first smoked

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2 thoughts on “Seasonal Fishes: Katsuo/Bonito”

  1. I had some katsuo tataki style just the other day (though I`ll admit I didn`t know it!) It didn`t have that fishy taste and was extremely succulent. Thanks for another great post!

  2. Dear Duhyuk!
    Greetings and welcome! I actually thank you!
    I’m answering your comment from Iriomote Island!
    The preparation does actually help getting rid of the fishy smell and taste. In season it’s one of my favorites!
    Cheers, Robert-Gilles

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