Katsuobushi Japanese Cuisine “Delicious Wood Sawdust Chips”
Japanese food fans must often find this one topping. The shape is like wood shavings which when placed above the freshly cooked okonomiyaki always shake as if dancing. Katsuobushi. That’s the name. Before being shaved to become the shape that you normally encounter, Katsuobushi is actually shaped like this piece of wood.
Chill-out. It’s not really wood. Katsuobushi is made from bonito or skipjack tuna which in Japanese is called katsuo. In our daily language, we can recognize this type of fish as skipjack fish.
Before becoming the final form of Katsuobushi, these skipjack fish go through a long process starting from drying, fermentation, and fumigation. That’s just a brief description of making Japanese cuisine. But if you really see the manufacturing process is not as easy and as fast as that. It took a long time to make the katsuo or skipjack fish become Katsuobushi.
First, the fish is cut into four parts and then boiled for several hours. After that, fish bones, scales, and fat in the belly of the fish are removed. The pieces of fish were smeared with fish paste to cover the cracks and lines on the meat that were the former places of the bones so that the surface became smooth. Only then will these pieces of fish be smoked for about a month.
The surface of the chunks of fish that are already shaped like chunks will then be trimmed and mashed and then fermented and dried under the sun. This process is more or less time consuming for three months or more until the fish pieces actually become dry and hard so that the fungus cannot grow anymore. One indicator of good quality is when Katsuobushi is pitted against each other, it makes a sound of clinking like hardwood colliding. When you want to use it, katsuobushi will be shaved with a tool called the katsuobushi, which is similar to a wood drawstring tool.
At present, not all katsuobushi is made through that long process. Sometimes people just make a simple version of arabushi that is made with a process that is faster than Katsuobushi because it only reaches the smoking stage for a month. Besides that, for people who don’t want to bother having to make from 0 or too lazy to drag it when they want to cook, Katsuoboshi has also been sold in plastic packaging.
If you look at the shape before it is shaved, Katsuobushi isn’t really interesting. But make no mistake Katsuobushi has a role in increasing the taste of food. That’s why Japanese people make one of the basic ingredients that are often used in many traditional Japanese foods. Starting from being one of the main ingredients of Japanese dashi or broth; topping in rice, takoyaki, and okonomiyaki, to become stuffed onigiri and various other foods.