Japanese Fish Species: Bonito/Katsuo


Bonito or “katsuo” in Japanese are extensively caught by fishermen from Numazu, Shimizu, Yaizu and Omaezaki Harbours. The main fishing areas are Shizuoka, Mie, Kochi & Miyazaki Prefectures.
It is also called “katsu” (Tohoku Region), “Honkatsuo” (Kyushu Island), “Magatsuo” (Shikoku and Kyushu Islands. N.B.: the same name designates another fish in other parts of Japan!), “Suji” (Yamaguchi & Wakayam Pref>).
It appears on the markets early Spring~Autumn as “sho gatsuo” (first bonito in Spring) and “modori gatsuo” (return bonito end of Autumn).
They are traditionally line-caught but nets have been used extensively in recent years.


It can be appreciated raw, as sashimi with its skin or without it, preferably served with a saucer of soy sauce (shoyu) mixed with thin slices of fresh garlic, or with wasabi, a touch of lemon and shoyu,


or as nigiri topped with grated fresh ginger a thin slice of garlic, unless you prefer grated fresh ginger with chopped thin leeks.


Another very popular way to eat it that will please Europeans and North Americans alike, is “tataki”.


The fish is first seared/grilled over charcoal until it is lightly cooked on the whole outside then plunged into ice water to stop it from cooking any longer. It is then cut into large slices and served with freshly chopped garlic and thin leeks, “shiso” leaves (perilla/beefsteak plant) and wasabi.

Note 1: in restaurants specify whether you want the skin or not when ordering sashimi.

Note 2: the same fish is a staple food in Sri LAnka where it is first smoked and then prepared as soup or curry!

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7 thoughts on “Japanese Fish Species: Bonito/Katsuo”

  1. You are telling me!
    This is how I prefer it!
    BTW, I will post an extra-long article on sushi and sashimi on Saturday night for Foodbuzz!
    March 15th would the only Sunday i know would be absolutley free!


  2. Robert….the bonito and garlic was out of this world! We still need to meet in Shizuoka sometime soon! Do you have any free weekends at the end of March or beginning of April?


  3. Robert,
    I bought some katsuo no tataki yesterday…great stuff! Here in Toei, there’s not much good sashimi, so when I am in Toyohashi I must stock up!!! Great post!


  4. Looks fantastic! The dried bonito is used as a base for a lot of broths, as I recall. They are beautiful fish. Thanks for sharing


    1. Dear Lou-Ann and Ila!
      Thanks for the comments!
      Yes, dried bonito is also used for broths,.
      Shizuoka Prefecture is a major producer!
      The idea was actually picked in Srilanka a few centuries ago!


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