|Bonito flakes / Photo by 123RF|
If you’ve ever had Japanese food, you can probably remember seeing those light brown flakes that look similar to wood shavings. According to Kikkoman, it’s an essential ingredient in Japanese cuisine, even though you might not exactly see it.
What is dried bonito?
Katsuobushi or dried bonito is made by extracting the moisture from the Bonito fish, which then produces a condensed umami flavor that’s often found in the Japanese staple dashi stock. This stock is used to make miso soup and the dipping sauce for soba.
The Bonito fish are filleted, boiled in hot water, cooled, deboned, skinned, and defatted. The fish is then smoked and sun-dried several times to make the dried bonito flakes you know and love.
|Tenpura Soba / Photo by 123RF|
How is the Bonito fish used?
According to Livestrong writer Candi Canncel, the Bonito fish is a part of the family that mackerel and tuna belong in. Its texture and color are reportedly similar to tuna, but its flesh is oilier and tastes stronger.
While that usually makes it less desirable than tuna, it’s nutritional content is nothing short of the tuna’s. Bonito fish is high in protein, low in fat, and rich in vitamin D, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Aside from being used to make dried bonito flakes, the fish can also be grilled, baked, or pan-fried, according to Canncel.
|Slicing Tuna / Photo by 123RF|
Trying out dried Bonito recipes
If you have some dried bonito flakes at home or if you’re curious and thinking about trying out dried bonito recipes, there are a lot of things you can make.
From using the dried bonito to make sauces or using it to top your dishes, there are several things you can do with dried bonito flakes.
You can use dried bonito flakes to make a dashi stock that you can use to make a rolled omelet or use it as to flavor the broth of Mille Feuille Nabe. You can also top Okonomiyaki with dried bonito flakes.
|Okonomiyaki balls / Photo by 123RF|
Making rolled omelet with dried Bonito
If you like omelets, try making Japan’s Tamagoyaki (rolled omelet). It’s simple enough that you can make them in just ten minutes.
The Spruce writer Setsuko Yoshizuka shared her recipe for Tamagoyaki that only calls for four eggs, one and a half to two tablespoons of sugar, and three tablespoons of dashi soup stock.
You can make your own dashi soup stock with dried Bonito flakes easily with 20 grams of dried kelp, three cups of dried bonito flakes, and four cups of water.
Japanese cooking blog Just One Cookbook’s recipe starts by gently cleaning the kelp with a damp cloth and making slits on it.
In a saucepan, soak the kelp and the water for at least 30 minutes. Then, bring it to a boil over medium-low heat, taking care to remove the kelp before it boils.
Turn off the heat and cool down the mixture before adding the dried bonito flakes and boiling it again. Once it boils, lower the heat, simmer for 30 seconds, and then take it off the heat.
Let it sit for 10 minutes and strain the mixture when the flakes sink to the bottom.
|Tamagoyaki / Photo by 123RF|
What is Hon Dashi?
Hon Dashi is a commercially available product made by the Japanese company Ajinomoto.
According to cooking blog Kobi’s Kitchen, these Hon Dashi pellets are added to hot water to make dashi that you can use for any recipe that calls for stock.
There’s also a shellfish version of it made with dried scallops that is reportedly good for seafood dishes like Bouillabaisse and seafood Risotto.
|Risotto / Photo by 123RF|
Making Mille Feuille Nabe with dried Bonito
Mille Feuille Nabe is a Japanese hot pot dish made by layering napa cabbages and thinly-sliced meat.
It’s simple enough that you can make it at home for your family or a stress-free meal to serve for your guests because you can prepare the ingredients in advance and then just cook it easily before they arrive.
You can make the stock for Mille Feuille Nabe with some homemade Dashi, soy sauce, and radish.
|A hot pot dish / Photo by 123RF|
Making Okonomiyaki with dried Bonito
If you’re feeling like eating the dried bonito flakes, you can make some Okonomiyaki. According to Just One Cookbook, it’s often called Japanese pancake or Japanese pizza by non-Japanese speakers, but it’s more similar to a cross between a pancake and a frittata.
The dried bonito flakes are sprinkled on top of the okonomiyaki, its paper-thin strips dancing with the steam.
|Fried Okonomiyaki / Photo by 123RF|