Soul Food of Kochi: Katsuo no Tataki (Seared Bonito)
If you come to Kochi, the food you have to eat is seared bonito,or "katsuo no tataki". This is sashimi of bonito with its surface seared. Its tastiness is exceptional. We introduce here ways to enjoy this dish that you can only experience in its home. These include ways of eating it unique to Kochi and experiences of making seared bonito yourself.
Bonito: The Food of Kochi!
Kochi Prefecture boasts the number one consumption of bonito in Japan. Bonito fishing also thrives here. The traditional fishing method of ipponzuri (fishing with a pole) that has lasted for nearly 400 years continues to be practiced to this day here. This is a method in which fishers entice a shoal of bonito and then catch them one by one with a pole in a splendid manner. The feature of this method is that it is possible to distribute the bonito in good condition without damage to their bodies. Bonito can be eaten all year round. However, there are two seasons when it is the best time to eat them in the early summer and late fall.
How to Eat Seared Bonito
Seared bonito is the leading way to eat bonito. This is sashimi that can be eaten all over Japan. However, the seared bonito of Kochi is named as the best in the country. The greatest feature of this dish is its overwhelming fragrance. Grilling it all at once with a strong fire using the straw of rice plants draws out its aroma and flavor. Its surface is seared while the inside is rare. This gives it a tastiness that is different to other sashimi. Bonito is served with ponzu sauce, citrus-based sauce, unlike sashimi which is enjoyed with soy sauce. In addition to ponzu sauce, sprinkling salt on the dish is a popular way to eat it in Kochi. This makes the flavor of the bonito stand out even further. The condiments used in Kochi are also unique. The dish is served with sliced raw garlic, ginger and onions. Why don't you try eating these condiments in one mouthful together with the bonito? Seared bonito is served in many restaurants in the prefecture, so please savor this authentic taste.
This and That of Bonito Cuisine
In addition to seared bonito, there are many other exquisite dishes made using bonito. We introduce here dishes characteristic of Kochi that you cannot taste in other prefectures.
Tosa-maki: This is makizushi (sushi rolled in seaweed) containing seared bonito, raw garlic and perilla. It is popular in Kochi to the extent it is also sold in the side dish section of supermarkets in addition to restaurants.
Halambo: This is the belly of fatty bonito. It is broiled with salt and then eaten. It is a valuable gem of a dish for which only one piece can be taken from each bonito.
Bonito sashimi: This allows you to taste bonito raw. You can eat bonito which loses its freshness quickly as sashimi precisely because you are in Kochi - the home of bonito. We recommend trying it with its silver skin still attached.
Chichiko: This is the heart of a bonito. You can try it in Kochi after it has been boiled salty-sweet with ginger and soy sauce or grilled with salt.
Shuto: This is a paste made from the salted fermented internal organs of bonito. It is popular in Kochi as a snack with sake. It is a delicacy, but you can also find it in supermarkets in Kochi.
Try Making Seared Bonito Yourself!
Anyone can easily enjoy making seared bonito! We introduce you here to facilities where you can experience grilling bonito over a straw-fueled fire.
Tosa Tataki Dojo
This is a restaurant where you can experience grilling bonito over a straw-fueled fire. The only dish on the menu is seared bonito you have grilled yourself. Take a piece of bonito thrust on a skewer to the straw-fueled fire. The lively fire will rise up and have a full impact. A member of staff will cut it after you have grilled it for about a minute and a half. The dish will be completed once you have placed your favorite condiments on it. The attractions of this experience are that you can do it without a reservation and that the facility has good access, about 10 minutes by taxi from the sightseeing area of Katsurahama.
Address: 201-2 Niida, Kochi City
Time: 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Closes when its stock of bonito runs out)
Price: 1,300 yen for a single dish of seared bonito and 1,600 yen for a set meal of seared bonito
*Both included in the price of the experience
Remarks: There are signs that show the procedures in English and traditional Chinese http://www.tataki.co.jp/en/index.html
Nakatosa is a fishing town where ipponzuri (fishing with a pole) of bonito is practiced. There are many restaurants where you can taste bonito with exceptional freshness. One of these is Kuroshio Kobo. This is a restaurant standing on a high ground overlooking the sea. You can enjoy tasting seared bonito here. You can also have fun with an experience of grilling bonito over a straw-fueled fire from April to October. Why don't you taste freshly made bonito on a terrace in a stunning location overlooking the sea? We also recommend trying out the hot spring (fee required) in Kuroshio Honjin, a ryokan inn on the premises, after you have taken part in this experience.
Address: 8009-11 Kure, Nakatosa Town,Takaoka Gun
Time: 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. from April to October on a reservation-only basis
Holidays: Second Thursday of every month
Price: Beginner course for one group of 800 yen plus the bonito market price http://honjin.or.jp/en/kobo.html