HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >

Discussion

Looking for whole Katsuo to shave to make dashi

Factory-shaved katsuobushi are easy to find, but is the intact block of dried bonito available in USA?

There's no dashi experience to match the freshly shaved. But even in Japan, most people have opted for the factory shaved flakes, or powdered concentrates.

I'm hoping that it is available on the west coast (SFR, LA). If someone knows of it, could you post contact info?

Pics/descriptions here:

http://web-japan.org/nipponia/nipponi...

http://my.opera.com/Green%20Aya/blog/...

http://www.hardfocus.net/stevie/grati...

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. I've never seen them available in SF Bay Area Japanese stores. I think your best bet would be to have someone one bring one back for you from Japan.

    1. Is there a Mitsuwa anywhere near you? I"ve never seen it at the small Japanese markets in NYC (Katagiri, Sunrise, JAS marts, etc.), but I'd be surprised if the mega-market places don't have it tucked away somewhere, you may have to ask.

      1. I think it is hard to find in Japan even nowadays. Have you found one of those katsuo box graters?

        1 Reply
        1. re: kare_raisu

          It's widely available in Okinawa, even in modern supermarkets, where they're sealed in shrink wrap. Smaller shops may have them unwrapped and stacked together like so much cord wood.

        2. Thanks for the replies. I've emailed a request to Mitsuwa, and a few of their suppliers.

          In anticiption of having to ask friends in Japan to mail some blocks to me, I checked the US Customs website, now enveloped within Dept Homeland security. Very grim... "No meats" etc.

          Yes I've got the box plane (kezuri) for shaving.

          We'll see how it goes.

          2 Replies
          1. re: FoodFuser

            Where did you get the grater? I've been looking for one, although I guess it won't do me much good if I can't find the katsuobushi. Will I have to bring both back from my next trip to Japan? I'm assuming one can easily find both in Tokyo, but maybe I'm wrong about that.

            1. re: FoodFuser

              I brought a box+the katsu back with me when I came home from Japan last year...not a problem at all

            2. I've found that boiling kombu and shiitake for a good while can create a great dashi...use more kumbu than shiitake and you'll get that fishy flavor...this is also a great vegetarian option.

              1. If you live near a Japantown, you may be able to find a grater there. You can definitely find one in Tokyo at Tokyu Hands, and probably at any place that has a decent kitchenware selection. You can definitely find katsuoboshi at the external market at Tsukiji, but I'm sure you could probably find it at other markets (outdoor, super, or department store food basements), as well.

                7 Replies
                1. re: Debbie M

                  Thanks. Did a bit more searching on the Internet and finally found an online source for the grater - Korin - $58

                  http://tinyurl.com/wfow9

                  Still, without the katsuobushi, no use for the grater. So, for now, I'll have to continue dreaming of "real" dashi.

                  1. re: omotosando

                    FYI for those in the L.A. area, I'm sure I've seen the planes before at Anzen Hardware, near 1st St. and San Pedro Blvd. in L.A.'s Little Tokyo. It's an interesting shop, featuring a lot of Japanese "old tech" housewares and hardware, such as saws, planes, traditionally made Japanese cutlery, Japanese charcoal, bamboo deer scares and fencing, etc.

                    1. re: FoodFuser

                      Yes, that's it. It's too bad they didn't have a picture of the katsuo shop. They have a large wooden machine that looks kind of like a cotton gin, that they use to grate large quantities of katsuo filets, with a trough full of billowing, fresh katsuobushi that was so fragrant, one of my traveling companions was moved to remark, in her best Robert Duvall impersonation, "I love the smell of katsuobushi in the morning!"

                      1. re: Debbie M

                        That's really neat. It conjures a nice image.

                        1. re: Debbie M

                          That's really neat. It conjures a nice image.

                          1. re: FoodFuser

                            It's fun to watch. I'm going to be in Tokyo in December; if I make it over that way I'll try to get a picture.

                    2. Katsuo update: (Nice to see the thread resurface, as it indicates interest for a very good thing).

                      1) availabilty: I've pretty much given up, after emailing every importer I could find. It "seems to be" that it is a USA Customs import thing, as the rind/mold exterior of each aged block creeps out the pathological pasteurizers who guard our food supply. Thus, import by mail from Japan friends is also blocked. Import by a person returning from Japan would probably work best as a "pocket/pants/trouser leg smuggle". Make sure that they don't drop from trouser leg onto the floor at customs, because they have a beautiful "percussive ring" that will give you away and you'll be imprisoned by Homeland Security as a "Dirty Dashi Bomber".

                      2) Alternatives: Most all places serve the pelletized "hon-dashi" that comes in the jar. The shaved flakes in nitrogen packs are widely available for simmered extraction, but they are oxidized in comparison to the fresh shaved. I'm presently using, as jbyoga said, the Shiitake/kombu, with the fish extraction coming from small dried Niboshi, easily available, but not quite the same as the smoked/cured katsuo.

                      3) My grater is an heirloom carpenter's plane modified to recieve the shaved flakes. It has a sweet hiss that has been silent for far too long. Omotosando's link looks good for purchase. If you are headed to Japan, omotosando (love that name :) ), the grater may be harder to find (specialty shops, such as DebbieM offered) than are the readily available blocks of katsuo. Getting the Katsuo home is the tougher thing.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: FoodFuser

                        Hmmn. I guess the next time I go to Japan, I'll bury the katsuobushi in my luggage and hope for the best. (In my experience, I have never been searched by customs returning from Japan, since that is the last place they would expect people to be smuggling goods in from). Hopefully, no sniffing dogs because I would hazard a guess that a dog could quickly sniff out katsuobushi .

                        I was wondering if anyone had actually ever shaved the katsuobushi? From what I have been reading, it's not exactly as easy as say, grating cheese. Would hate to go to all the trouble of getting the grater and the katsuobushi and then failinhg at actually producing shaved katsuobushi.

                        Oh, and by the way, after searching everywhere online, I have finally found a place in England that will ship me an otoshi-buta -

                        http://okinami.com/

                        (Okinami is apparently a top sushi bar in England, or at least that is what their promotional materials say, and they sell Japanese cookware online).

                        I could not find a single online source in the U.S. for an otoshi-buta, nor could I find one at my large neighborhood Japanese supermarket (Mitsuwa).

                        1. re: omotosando

                          Why do you need otoshi-buta so much? Otoshi-buta can be anything. You can even put kitchen foil as for an alternative.
                          To shave Katsuo is not easy. What I do is, I break it by something like kitchen scissors in order to get some crumbles. And put those crumbles in my coffe mill to make bonito powder. Iuse this methode almost for all my dashi. But I can understand that you want to do it things propely.

                          1. re: gadogado

                            I know one can use kitchen foil as an alternative to an otoshi-buta, but when time is at a premium in the kitchen, it seems easier to have an otoshi-buta rather than fashioning something with foil.

                            By the way, do you think in a blind taste test, one could tell the difference between dashi made with home-shaved katsuobushi and dashi made with the stuff they sell in cellophane bags? In other words, is this mad search for katsuobushi blocks really worth it?

                      2. "Oh, and by the way, after searching everywhere online, I have finally found a place in England that will ship me an otoshi-buta"

                        Where are you? Those are easy enough to find in NYC, seems bizarre you couldn't find one if you're in a metro area.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: MikeG

                          I'm in Los Angeles. It does seem strange that I can't find otoshi buta. Perhaps I haven't looked hard enough - just at the Westside Mitsuwa and the housewares store inside Mitsua. Where are they sold in NYC? - I travel there regularly.

                          1. re: omotosando

                            It's pretty strange that you're having trouble finding something as simple as an otoshibuta. I see them in the NYC Japanese grocers, and I see them at the Marukai stores in LA (when I've noticed them), so I'm sure you can find them in your area. I've gotten mine at the Japanese 99¢ stores that are popping up around NYC (check the Marukai 99¢ shop). If I'm improvising without one, I'll use the lid of a small saucepot as an otoshibuta. I'm not sure why you're trying to go through the hassle of ordering something that'll cost you about a buck. (here's a photo: http://www.tasteofzen.com/glossaries/...

                            )

                            If you're going to spend some money on an otoshibuta, you might want to get something like this. I got one as a gift, and it's great and whimsical. http://item.rakuten.co.jp/add-kitchen...
                            It's made of silicon, so it's resistant to stains and heat.

                            1. re: omotosando

                              Down here in S.D. Both Nijiya and Mitsuwa carry them, so I'm sure it's the same for L.A. You'll find them hanging with the small housewares in cellophane packages. 16 cm seems to be a popular size, but you'll want to check that against the pots that you're planning on using them in, since you will want to make sure that there's some room around the circumference so that it is free to move.

                              Antoher place to try would be Anzen Hardware on 1st St. just east of San Pedro in Little Tokyo. (I recommended them above as a source for the katsuo planes as well...) They're a good source for hard-to-find traditional housewares; I would call first, though, before going if you have a long drive.

                          2. Glad to report that it is available off-the-shelf here in San Diego!!!

                            I've been looking for it myself for quite some time, as I do have a katsuo plane at home. Everyone/everywhere I've asked they've said that it'll be hard to find, even in Japan. I've asked Japanese chefs, restaurant owners, Japanese food stores, even Anzen Hardware in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles. (They carry many traditional and hard-to-find Japanese household items, including traditional Japanese knives, woodworking hand tools, bincho tan, as well as the plane used to shave the katsuo. It's kind of a "living antique lifestyle" store...)

                            I finally came across it at Nijiya Market in San Diego. This despite having asked them before if they ever carry it. It just sort of appeared one day. As one can imagine it doesn't move all that fast, so on my last visit when I checked the katsuo isle there were still some left. It's the whole dried filet shrink wrapped in a thick plastic.

                            Hope this helps!

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: cgfan

                              Wow, I'm in L.A. Perhaps a road trip to San Diego is in order. Where is Nijiya Market? Maybe I could even convince them to ship.

                              1. re: omotosando

                                Nijiya is a chain of Japanese Markets, of which there are several scattered around L.A. I have a feeling, though, that with regards to the katsuo it might be "catch as catch can", so I would call first.

                                The one in San Diego is located at 3860 Convoy St. in the Kearny Mesa district. (I-5 to Balboa exit, E. on Balboa, S. on Convoy to 3860. It will be on your right about 1 mile down.) (858) 268-3821

                                1. re: omotosando

                                  FYI I just returned from Nijiya Market in San Diego, and it looks like they have only 4 left at $20 each. I suspect, though this is just speculation, that once they're gone, it'll be a while before they will stock it again...

                                  1. re: cgfan

                                    Thanks. I just returned from Nijiya Market in West L.A. and no katsuo, although someone said they saw them there about 3 weeks ago. This is kind of like looking for the mysterious yeti!

                                    1. re: omotosando

                                      Perhaps a phone call to the San Diego Nijiya might be your best bet to secure one while they still have some left. After all it wouldn't be very traditional to make a dashi from dehydrated Yeti shavings. :-)

                              2. Admittedly, OCD (obsessive Chowhound disorder) could be at play here, but there really is a perceptible difference of the freshly shaved. Who knows what volatile aromatics are lost during storage, even in a nitrogen-pack environment? It's all about searching for that elusive top 2% of the food experience.

                                Moreover, with a full block and a kezuri, you are more in touch with the "home cooking" traditional basis of a cuisine. It's FUN to shave it right and make a dashi. It's a "grandma's kitchen arts" kind of thing.

                                Blind taste test? I don't know. Among Kaiseki chefs, they could tell. Among those of us not raised on daily dashi, probably not. But the fact that the kezuri and the block katsuo are still viable commercial products in Japan would indicate a consumer base that can tell the difference.

                                Here's 2 pics of the shaving process:

                                http://web-japan.org/nipponia/nipponi...

                                http://www.hardfocus.net/stevie/grati...

                                As for importing via luggage, think about filling those nested pairs of socks. :) If you'd like to email me about commissioning such a surreptitious order, please do so. dsatherATTswbellDOTnet

                                1. I'm bringing this thread back to the top because I thought it was the best place to tell this story.

                                  I've been in Okinawa this past week, visiting relatives. Yesterday, I visited Nago, the main city in the northern part of the island. There's an old, covered shopping precinct in the center of the town, sort of in the style of Kappabashi, but smaller in scale. I was walking towards a small general store, when I noticed sitting out on the sidewalk, among other goods, a basket of katsuo filets, along with a single plastic bag of katsuoboshi. On seeing the basket, I was thinking about this thread, when a scruffy orange cat (the local stray?) jumped on the basket, grabbed the bag of katsuoboshi in it's mouth and absconded with it, taking it behind a nearby bench. I had to laugh, and there was a couple walking behind me who also saw kitty's big heist, also laughing, and the three of us tried to peek under the bench to see what the cat would do with it's bounty. Perhaps appreciating that the katsuo petals were safely sealed in the bag, it looked like he might have been going back out to look for more treasure.

                                  I walked on, but I think the couple must have told the shopkeeper what happened, because when I came back down the opposite side of the street, there on the basket of katsuo filets was a single bag of katsuobushi ...

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Debbie M

                                    Just to bring the topic back up to date, I recently returned from my 1st trip to Japan (for my son's Shinto wedding to a Japanese girl) and I am the proud possessor of a lovely katsuo. Obtaining one was a main focus of the trip, and I found it at the Tokyo fish market from a specialty vendor who had many grades of katsuoboshi at many prices. He kindly drew on the plastic shrink wrap the places where I should begin the grating process. I then gestured for a grating box and he pointed to a vendor across the aisle. The size of it was a big deterrent however, what with gifts from our new family to bring back, so I will pick one up here in San Francisco.
                                    I was nervous about customs, or rather the little beagles, but they were no where to be seen when our plane landed. Anyway, I don't think the prohibition applies to preserved, salted, smoke-dried, and hermetically sealed product. After all, what we can purchase here has to get through customs.

                                  2. Just a couple of weekends ago, Marukai Market in Gardena was demonstrating the entire shaving process. They were using a small shaver set up on the table and selling pretty huge bags of freshly shaved bonito. I so much wanted to buy a bag, but I was told that it would be fresh for a very short time; I just don't have enough uses for such a large quantity. I did taste, however, and WOW! The freshly shaved flakes put the stuff in sealed plastic bags to shame!

                                    1. I just brought in a 25 lbs. box of whole, vacuum-packed kaskuobushi from Japan into the US. Even though I declared it in the customs form, I had zero problems. When was asked about bringing in food by the lady at the customs checkpoint, I told her that I was bringing in some prepared fish. All she said was, "Oh, fish is no problem." Apparently, the US is strict about importing farm-raised products, like beef and poultry, as well as fruits and vegetables, but they don't care about fish at all.

                                      When I got home, I saw that my luggage was opened up by TSA after I checked it in. Even then, they clearly didn't care about the fact that I was bringing in what's likely to be a 5-year supply of the stuff.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Ken Hartman

                                        Anyone know how long the stuff can be "reasonably" kept around? (I'm sure it "can" be kept as long as it doesn't mold or rot?) Would a traditional Japanese household have it around longer than a year (season to season), or preferably not?

                                        What makes me wonder is that piece I bought - of the very dry, hard type - has what seems to be a "best before" date of only August this year. So it's either been sitting around somewhere for a long time, or maybe it just isn't meant to be as long-lived as one might assume? I'm asking because I'm thinking about keeping a minor backlong on hand in case it disappears from the store's shelves - it kind of showed up out of nowhere and I'm afraid it may disappear again...

                                      2. Has anyone here yet found out how to get blocks of katsuo either online or mail order shipped with a phone call? I'm in St. Louis.

                                        8 Replies
                                        1. re: Richard 16

                                          I don't know if the places that have it here in NYC ship at all, but you could give them a call. Also, both are I believe owned by the same company that owns the larger Mitsuwa chain, so Mitsuwa may have started carrying it as well. They didn't have it the last time I was there, but that was several months ago.

                                          Sunrise Mart (Broome St., NYC) (212) 219-0033
                                          Sunrise Mart (Stuyvesant St., NYC) (212) 598-3040
                                          Mitsuwa (NJ) (201) 941-9113

                                          Keep in mind that most of the employees you'll get on the phone at all 3 places rarely speak "solid" colloquial English, so don't assume they've understood you clearly if there's any confusion at all. Indeed, you might want to fax/email a final request if they do mailorder, just so everyone's clear. Lastly, these are convenience stores/supermarkets with staff to match (ie, mindless, albeit polite and helpful, adolescents :) ), so don't assume the first person you speak to has any idea what you're looking for...

                                          1. re: MikeG

                                            Thanks Mike! I called Sunrise (Stuyvesant St.) and, presuming communication was sufficient, I ordered the katsuo and a shaver (I'll need to eplain to my wife why I, um, need this tool...) as well as some previously unfound Japanese black vinegar -- and they will mail.

                                            I ordered an extra block to give to my favorite itamae and will post his and my opinions later.

                                            1. re: Richard 16

                                              I thought they would, but I'm glad to hear they do ship. Between one thing and a dozen, I haven't gotten around to breaking mine out yet, but hope to soon.

                                              I'd be curious to hear more about the vinegar when you get around to posting again - I'm not at all familiar with such a thing. Does it have a name? specific use?

                                              1. re: MikeG

                                                I just got it! Oh, I was giddy like, well, CHers know I mean...

                                                Three (I got a third) shrink wrapped blocks of katsuo and a shaver. Quite frankly I wonder if my mandoline would work as well as the shaver. The blocks are pretty hard so it may be that the shaver can take the abuse better. The katsuo itself has a brownish coating that apparently is a good thing. The smell is heavenly. All this for what I've heard is a common Japanese item..

                                                The vinegar is called "black vinegar" and apparently it has become popular in Japan to sip some daily for health purposes. What I received looks, smells, and tastes like - and is labeled as - brown rice vinegar. It also says "Kurozu", the term I had heard for Japanese black vinegar. Chinese black vinegar is very different.

                                                Where from:
                                                Sunrise Mart (Stuyvesant St., NYC)
                                                (212) 598-3040

                                                No web site -- I called them and they shipped. The man I spoke with -- and I wish I spoke Japanese; communication was, well, slow - says his father makes the dried bonito in Japan.

                                                Thanks again MikeG!

                                                1. re: Richard 16

                                                  Great work, Richard and Mike. There should be more Katsuo within our american Culture, and readily available.

                                                  I've been working on a block for more than a year, thanks to a fellow hound who facilitated its acquisition. (I've lost the email of that hound, should they choose to reconnect... hint). I keep it in the freezer, and with the sharpened plane it shaves well.

                                                  As to the shaving with a mandoline versus a dedicated plane, the mass and sharpness of the blade are superior on the kezuri, and a real plus for getting finely honed flakes.

                                                  There's wonderful PBS show (woodwright's shop) that reviews the beauty of the Japanese plane. There is little difference between a block of wood and a block of katsuo. The concepts reviewed apply to shaving bonito. Video of show here:

                                                  http://www.pbs.org/wws/schedule/26sea...

                                                  Curious about the Kurozu. What is the brand name?

                                                  Also curious as to the cost of the katsuo.

                                                  1. re: FoodFuser

                                                    Katsuo was US$14.95 per piece, about 22 cm./9 in. long. Hopefully the pic will attach.

                                                    The brand name of the kurozu is Mizkan.

                                                     
                                                    1. re: Richard 16

                                                      The lighter/dryer katsuo pieces weigh either 180g or 200g. The darker, "wetter" version is a bit cheaper per pound, which makes sense (why does "foreign" food pricing usually make more sense than American? <lol>). When you compare it to the price of better quality pre-shaved katsuobushi, it's really not that bad at all.

                                                      As for the utensils, the blade on the kastuo-kezuri is also angled more sharply than a Benriner/mandoline - you'd have to be careful to get the right angle and also not slice your hand using the latter, I think. Fine for very occasional use but a PITA on a regular basis...

                                        2. I gave a chunk of dried bonito to local itamae. (Who told me he has been getting it for years - why didn't I ask him years ago?) He said I should steam it before shaving.

                                          I knew I was supposed wash off the coating. Foodfuser says he froze it, which makes sense in order to keep it from spoiling.

                                          Since there's no way I'll consume the whole thing at once, and I want to shave it just before using the flakes, what do ya'll suggest? Wash part and then steam that part; freezing the rest? Wash the whole thing, cut off a chunk to shave and then freeze the rest? Don't bother with steaming? Wash the whole thing, freeze, shave what I need and put the rest back in the freezer the rest? Something else?

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: Richard 16

                                            I've never heard of steaming, but I'm not an expert... rather I'm just doing what works for me.

                                            I treat it like wood. I thaw the block a day before shaving up several batches of flakes, which are then bagged and refrozen.

                                            If I was in a place with a constant source of katsuo, my parsimonious freezing technique could well be different.

                                            1. re: Richard 16

                                              Did you get any of the questions answered? Does your itamae have a source and is willing to help you get it?

                                            2. Hello fellow katsuobushi enthusiasts. I have successfully ordered several katsuobushi blocks from e-dashi, a website in Japan. I describe the process on my girlfriend's blog:

                                              http://italianintheus.blogspot.com/

                                              If anyone wants more details about which buttons to click, I'll happily supply.

                                              6 Replies
                                              1. re: unburnt

                                                Hi Guys,
                                                I am hoping you can help me with locating whole katsuo that can be shipped to Sydney, Australia so that i can make Dashi. Or even better, if there is a store in either Sydney or Melbourne that stocks whole Katsuo so that i can use my bonito shaver and make wonderful Dashi from scratch.
                                                Unburnt - i may end up needing to use e-dashi. Do you mind providing me with detailed instructions?
                                                Thanks!

                                                1. re: Yefsi

                                                  Hi Yefsi. I moved to Canada about when you posted, so I never saw your reply. Are you still interested in instructions?

                                                  1. re: unburnt

                                                    Hi, I would be very interested actually! :)

                                                    I also would like to ask you for a suggestion regarding the difference between the two types of pre-shaved katsuobushi that e-dashi sells in his website, as google translation is not very clear :)

                                                    I looked at the posts in your blog but has never been able to find an e-mail to contact you :P

                                                    Thank you in advance for your help!

                                                    Kind regards

                                                    1. re: Shakk

                                                      If you are looking for a domestic source, Boulette's Lauder in San Francisco sells katsuo bushi.

                                                2. re: unburnt

                                                  enjoyed your blog. I also love those Montreal bagels too much.

                                                  Fingers crossed that they can send the flakes. Fairmount sent me bagels.

                                                  1. re: epop

                                                    Odd. The email I just got from you (sent by chowhound) asks for the edashi website,
                                                    but the post above doesn't.

                                                    Here's the link:
                                                    http://www.e-dashi.com/

                                                    They do sell already shaved katsuobushi, but it goes bad too fast to justify having it shipped from that far.

                                                3. Hi, bumping this thread. Does anyone have more information to share about getting whole katsuo?

                                                  I live in Brooklyn. I have tried Sunrise Mart in the East Village, but they no longer carry it. They told me they had one supplier, who is no longer in business. Funny but they still carry a shaving plane.

                                                  Does anyone in New York know of a place to buy it? I'd be willing to travel to NJ or NY outside of NYC.

                                                  And does anyone else have up-to-date success stories to share about ordering it online? I tried to check some of the websites recommended but I don't know any Japanese, so they were very confusing, even the ones supposedly in English.

                                                  Thanks very much!

                                                  6 Replies
                                                  1. re: treestonerivershrub

                                                    The only place in the NYC area I can think of that might have it is Mitsuwa, in NJ, but I believe Sunrise Mart is a subsidiary, so they may not have access to it anymore, either. You may encounter a strong language barrier if you don't speak Japanese, but it's worth trying them on the phone at least.

                                                    1. re: MikeG

                                                      Thanks for the advice, I will give them a call.
                                                      Maybe I can talk a friend who does speak Japanese into doing it for me...might be worth it...I had trouble getting anyone at Sunrise Mart to even answer my question.

                                                      1. re: treestonerivershrub

                                                        Well, certainly late to this party ... I used to get mine at Sunrise until they stopped carrying it, but it's online at http://www.anything-from-japan.com/Ka... (ordered from there & was delighted -- beautifully wrapped, even) & last week Mitsuwa in Edgewater had it as part of a regional food specialty promotion (they also had the shavers) (the one at Mitsuwa was shrink-wrapped -- have not opened it yet). As for storage, I had mold problems in the past, but the instructions with the shaver seem to show that you should dry it out over a gas flame before storing, which makes sense.

                                                    2. re: treestonerivershrub

                                                      You can buy it from Boulette's Lauder in San Francisco. Just call and they will mail it to you.

                                                      1. re: BigSal

                                                        Great! Thanks for that information.

                                                        Have you ordered katsuo from there before? Do you know if it is arabushi, karebushi, or hongarebushi?

                                                        1. re: treestonerivershrub

                                                          Yes, I've ordered from them before. Not sure which they sell.

                                                      1. re: FoodFuser

                                                        Hi OP, glad to hear that it was all it was cracked up to be ^_^

                                                        How does your friend get the katsuo - is it from the same store BigSal mentioned above?

                                                        And thank you kindly for the links, but I make dashi all the time at home and I've read to death and about katsuo--now I actually want to get a block and try hand shaving the bonito flakes! So any advice you have about actually buying a block (without traveling to Japan) would be so much appreciated.

                                                        1. re: treestonerivershrub

                                                          Also glad this thread is back up.

                                                          I reiterate how fun it is to order it from e-dashi.com.

                                                          http://www.e-dashi.com/katuo/honbusi....

                                                          You get to practice your google-translate fu, and, as we explained
                                                          in the linked-to series above (italianintheus), you have a good excuse
                                                          to later go to Izumo to meet these very nice people.

                                                          Last time I ordered about 4 katsuos and 4 big packages of good kombu, and with international shipping to Canada (taking a week and half or so), it came to about $140. Not bad at all considering how long it lasts.

                                                          1. re: unburnt

                                                            $140 is not bad for the amount of product you got. Did you feel it was good quality? Do you have any idea whether your katsuo was arabushi, karebushi, or hongarebushi?

                                                            I'm going to check out the price quote at Boulette's Larder, but if that's significantly more expensive, would it be alright if I PM'ed you with questions about the e-dashi ordering process? I did try it once and it proved to be so bewildering as to be a deterrent to me.

                                                            Did you get to do that, by the way - meet the people who sold you the katsuo?

                                                            1. re: treestonerivershrub

                                                              It was good quality. In fact they sell various grades (higher=higher price). The lower grades seem to be made from nicked filets, so you won't get as nice shavings. I couldn't really say whether it affects things at the molecular level.

                                                              I believe what I got was honkarebushi, but I think they sell all types. I'll have to dig up old emails from a Japanese friend who tried to explain the website to us. (Funny story, when we finally showed him the whole katsubushis, he told us it was the first time in his life he'd seen them!)

                                                              How good is it? Read my final meditation here:

                                                              http://italianintheus.blogspot.com/20...

                                                              and you can see the e-dashi owners here:

                                                              http://italianintheus.blogspot.com/20...

                                                              or here

                                                              http://italianintheus.blogspot.com/20...

                                                              (and in some other posts there, we did go on and on and on about that trip!

                                                              )

                                                              Feel tree to contact me at mcargo at gmail.com for guidance if you need it.

                                                              1. re: unburnt

                                                                Very nice work there, unburnt. I'm glad you are on this thread.

                                                            2. re: unburnt

                                                              I've checked out e-dashi with google translator, I can figure out what I want and add to the cart, but can't figure out where to enter payment or shipping info. Thanks for your help.

                                                              1. re: roguesushi

                                                                They'll send you a confirmation email, with a link in it to the payment site.

                                                                Ergo, no worries!

                                                              2. re: unburnt

                                                                HOw did the dashi taste? How did you prepare it?

                                                              3. re: treestonerivershrub

                                                                Here's contact info for BigSals' Boulette's:

                                                                http://bouletteslarder.com/contact.html

                                                                I'm impressed that you don't need my previous links.

                                                                1. re: FoodFuser

                                                                  Thank you for the contact info!

                                                                  Ever since I started making dashi fairly regularly, this elusive katsuo bushi has been nothing short of an obsession of mine. I happen to like doing things the hard way, if it would make a difference in my understanding of the flavors and the process and ultimately result in a taste difference.

                                                                  1. re: FoodFuser

                                                                    I called Boulette's Larder a few days before I traveled to San Francisco recently, to ask about katsuobushi but they said they didn't have it, but the person on the phone told me to email to inquire whether they would get it again. I emailed but never heard from anyone. When I was in town a few days later I stopped in just to check the place out, and there behind the counter was katsuobushi. I was all ready to buy some but they wanted $85 an ounce!!!! That's an absolutely outrageous, exorbitant price.

                                                              4. Poem: Bonito to Dashi.

                                                                Visions of days in Hakata bay
                                                                as men did their work with bonito.
                                                                Skipjackck tuna
                                                                Quick knife, they were long quarters,
                                                                Transforming those quartered bonito
                                                                was slow dance with real rhythm.

                                                                Pulling from slow fire
                                                                Patience of rhythm
                                                                of drying and smoking.

                                                                Then the innoculum of sweet Aspergillus
                                                                to be molded and rested

                                                                It dries the bonito to
                                                                us and our shaving.

                                                                Praise to those fellows
                                                                who have worked the Bonito.

                                                                Now in our hand, the hardness and ping,
                                                                Katsuoboshi delivered from Masters.

                                                                We shave it to flakes
                                                                in the thinest of increments.

                                                                We savour the hiss
                                                                of bonito 'pon blade.

                                                                Shavings pile from our process
                                                                Deepest aromas surround us.

                                                                We are one with the fish
                                                                and its yield to the blade.

                                                                Good is our dance with the Dashi.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: FoodFuser

                                                                  I believe that's the first poem I have ever read with the
                                                                  word Aspergillus in it!

                                                                  This poem, while excellent, needs chapters about kombu and/or miso to be truly epic.

                                                                  1. re: unburnt

                                                                    Good suggestions.

                                                                    For certain remiss on Kombu and Miso.

                                                                    I'll steep for a while, as all dashis do, and come back with a something that even includes dried shiitake.

                                                                2. I agree that the flavor from freshly made Katsuobushi flakes are so much better than the pre-packed ones. When cut in thicker slices it can also serve as a replacement of smoked ham in salad or gratin.

                                                                  Here is a shop that sells high quality whole Katsuobushi with worldwide shipping:
                                                                  http://www.ANYTHING-FROM-JAPAN.COM/Ka...

                                                                  1. Original Poster here.

                                                                    It has been good to have posted this thread and followed it down through the years.

                                                                    We have shared and have learned quite a bit about dashi. That is (with thanks) what this forum is for.

                                                                    We ain't about coulda' and shoulda', but I sure missed a connection, to pay more attention to the katsuo curing that was present before me. Mid 80's, City Fukuoka, on the Sea of Japan, Northern Kyushu.

                                                                    In a deep downtown district, right on the river that gave rise to the city, was a section where guys cured bonito. I remember the smell, and the rise of oaken fire, and the ping of a fully dried katsuo.

                                                                    It was early in my stay in Japan, and my language skills at that time did not provide me to dig in and ask lots of questions. I was still reeling with so many nuances of so many differences.

                                                                    But yet it remains one the them "Shouldas".

                                                                    The internet provides us with some form of a bring us up to speed performance, yet remains secondhand.

                                                                    I was there by the fires and racks of bonito and the men who did this everyday, yet I missed a conversational connection.

                                                                    It is thus with our lives, and our quests more than dashi.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: FoodFuser

                                                                      There are two major levels of dried bonito. There's a Japanese drama called Osen in which one episode is devoted to a dramatic issue related with the general closings of plants that are doing the more advanced process which takes an additional month and involves fermentation as opposed to just the smoking process which is already quite intricate. Go to www.dramacrazy.net. In the search menu, type in "osen". Click on "watch episodes" and click on episode 9. It includes a scene in which a young girl is taught to shave the bonito, and even includes some food prep. It's worth an hour-quite fun.

                                                                      Has anyone found a place in the U.S. to get this?

                                                                    2. Forgive what is probably a silly question. I have almost zero experience preparing any Japanese food except sushi. Can you buy fresh bonito where you live? Could you not find someone locally who is an expert at cold smoking/drying fish and get them to smoke then dry the fish? Where I live many people have 'cold smokers'. If you lived near me I'd be willing to do it. LOL Anyway just saying.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Puffin3

                                                                        Not so simple. The bonito fillets are first simmered then alternately smoked and rested over a period of up to a month, with the accumulated tar being periodically ground off. Then the fillets are fermented with a specific mold culture and dried. Katsuobushi isn't really much like a European smoked and dried fish in which the product still retains a fair amount of moisture. Katsuobushi very much resemble chunks of old wood and are nearly as hard (they clang when knocked togehter), which is why you need a special tool (essentially a wood plane turned upside down with a box underneath) to shave it.

                                                                        The PBS series Mind of a Chef recently had an episode in which David Chang visited a Katsuobushi factory in Japan.

                                                                      2. Has anyone had fermented dried bonito based dashi vs. just the smoking process alone without the fermentation based dashi? Can you describe the taste difference in the dashi? HOw about in the taste of the dried flakes themselves?

                                                                        1. Good News: there is an ad in the June issue of JapanUp magazine for Hitachiya USA, a store in the Los Angeles area. They've announced that they are now importing "dried bonito block" as well as the shaver. Their website is hitachiya.com