Katsuobushi Without Bonito?!

August 31, 2018

Dashi is one of the most important ingredients in Japanese food. It is a form of cooking stock and tends to form the base of almost all existing Japanese dishes, and has been used for 1300 years. Although its not common knowledge that dashi can also be prepared by using from a variety of other fish, not just bonito! They are called Zatsu-bushi. There are many varieties of fish used in the preparation of dashi in Japan. Katsuo-bushi is the most famous one and used as the base of the majority of authentic dishes.

  • Maguro bushi (Tuna): Tuna dashi has very light taste, used for Kyo-ryouri. (Kyoto cuisine) It tends to be on the menu in restaurant that offers 'fine dining'.

  • Souda-bushi (Auxis): Dashi that is taken from auxis is rich and strong, so it is suitable for soba soup. Commonly used for soba soup in east of Japan, that is the reason why dashi soup in east of Japan has got a darker colour than the west of Japan.

  • Saba-bushi (Mackerel): Since mackerel have a lot of fat the resulting dashi tastes rich and sweet. It's a good match with soy sauce and miso. Used for warm udon.

  • Muro-bushi (Decapterus): This dashi has hints of a unique sweetness about it. Often used for udon soup in the Chubu-area. (Central area of Japan). Soup that uses this dashi, will appear ever so slightly yellow and it has a mild flavour. 

  • Urume-bushi (round herring): Gives a deep roast flavour to soup. Used for Ramen and udon soup in Kansai (west of Japan).

  • Iwashi-bushi (Sardin): It has got bitter taste, often used for miso soup. This dashi is only used in the Kansai area. 

  • Ago dashi (Flying fish): Flying fish have got less fat than other fish so it has got a slightly less fishy smell in its dashi form. Used in the preparation of ramen soup and udon soup. 
It is very rare, but salmon and shark are used as dashi in some places! 
The reason there are there are so many varieties of fish used in dashi is actually related to Japanese food culture and its differences within each region. In the west of Japan, udon was eaten more often and in Kanto soba was more popular, so the dashi was created to match udon and soba in each region. Local cuisine has now over time has led to the creation of many dashi variations. 

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