Season of Fish for Katsuobushi; Katsuo!

Posted on Jul 31, 2013 in Hiroko's Blog

fresh katsuokatsuobushikatsuobushi and shaved frakes

You know fish flakes which we use in the Japanese kitchen to prepare slight smoky, umami rich dashi (Japanese fish stock). This fish flakes is made from a fish, called skipjack tuna. In Japan we catch young, less oily skipjack tuna during spring time and process it to make katsuobushi, a hard woodlike block of dried fish (photo). To become this product fish is filleted, boned, steamed, smoked, dried in the sun and mold is applied. Molding does many things – remove additional moisture from the fish, produces enzyme which decomposes fat, inhibit the growth of bad bacteria, produce specific fragrant aroma…Attentive and time consuming care are taken for the entire process. Today you won’t see this fish block unless you come to Japan. Fish block is shaved and sold in flakes form for convenience. Freshly shaved flakes out of this block using this shaving box is, of course, far better.


Today I spotted this wild young skipjack tuna (photo) at Blue Moon this morning. Skipjack tuna spoils very quick, so even at Blue Moon the fish was very tender by 10am. I am not planning to make tataki (skipjack tuna sashimi), so I purchased it. Just getting the katsuo and check its flavor in cooked preparation for the first time in season is exciting. According to the owner, Stephanie, the skipjack tuna season has just started locally. I cannot wait to see how the flavor develops when the calendar goes into September. When I buy the fish again in September, I will go to the market as early as possible…6am, if they are there.


Exciting Skipjack tuna is not cheap. This small fish, 3.5 pound, cost $25. So, I decided to do exactly the same as I did for the porgy the other day. Cook the whole fish and leave no waste.


On my next blog you will see how you can do with one whole young skipjack tuna.