花かつお – bonito flakes

花かつお – bonito flakes

花かつお(はなかつお/hana_katsuo), often translated as “bonito flakes,” is shaved 鰹節(かつおぶし/katsuobushi). 鰹節(かつおぶし/katsuobushi) is dried, fermented and smoked skipjack tuna fillet. Did  you say it doesn’t sound appetizing? My non-Japanese husband would say so, but you won’t have a Japanese meal free from hana_katsuo unless you specifically go for 精進料理(しょうじんりょうり/shoujin_ryori) – vegetarian meal.

Most 出汁(だし/dashi) stock in Japan is made of bonito flakes. So even if you don’t see it on the table, the chances are you will be drinking miso soup made with the stock with bonito flakes or eating food cooked in the stock made with bonito flakes.
Bonito flakes are also used to garnish food such as 豆腐(とうふ/tofu) – soybean curd, お好み焼き(おこのみやき/okonomiyaki) – Japanese savoury pancakes and お浸し(おひたし/ohitashi) – boiled greens with soy sauce dressing.

My husband is not a fan of bonito stock (or more precisely he doesn’t like the smell of it) but he does like bonito flakes used as garnish. Fried Udon noodles with bonito flakes are one of our regular lunch menu and it is very easy to make. I fry a small amount of bonito flakes with oil first to give some flavour to the oil, add prepared udon noodles and season them with soysauce and a small amount of vinegar. After taking off the heat, put a dash of sesami seed oil and put a lot more bonito flakes as garnish. You’ll be surprised how nice it is!

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