Kochi Prefecture is famous for producing “katsuobushi” bonito flakes, a vital ingredient used in in making soup stock for Japanese cooking. But one mustn’t forget that they also produce “sodabushi” flakes made from medjika (Auxis or frigate tuna). Medjika, a close relation to bonito, is redder than bonito and is said to make a richer, more aromatic stock. It is used in cooking when a rich flavor is desirable, so it’s not often used in home cooking, more often instead sold for business use in traditional Japanese restaurants, and is essential to soba restaurants for use in their zaru soba dipping sauces.
Medjika doesn’t stay fresh for long, so it must be processed near a fishing harbor. Kochi’s renowned fishing harbor of Tosashimizu boasts unified processing from unloading to manufacturing and shipping, and is Japan’s largest producer of sodabushi. Medjika can be caught all year round, but their fat content differs depending on the season. As such, medjika is also distinct in that the quality of sodabushi varies throughout the year. Medjika caught from January to March have little fat and are of good size, making them optimal for sodabushi that produces ideal stock.
We recommend dashi soy sauce (stock and soy sauce mixture) as an easy way to enjoy the taste of sodabushi at home. Steep a portion of sodabushi in soy sauce and the mixture will transform into a rich and flavorful sauce. Born from Kochi’s ocean bounty and traditions, the flavor of sodabushi is finding its way into more and more recipes.