Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Wooden Fish

You haven't eaten Japanese cuisine until you've swallowed 'dancing fish flakes.' If you're not aware of what I'm referring too check out this video.

Thankfully these yummy fish flakes are everywhere! You'll find them quivering on top of okonomiyaki, takoyaki, soba and they're even known to hang out in bento (lunch boxes).

I was aware that they were tuna shavings, but really hadn't thought about how they ended up on my plate. One day while under the tutelage of Ukei Sensei, my well-respected pottery teacher and Japanese culture guru, I found out the truth!

These 'fish-flakes' known as 鰹節 (katsuobushi) or ぼにと(bonito) are wooden...or made from what looks to be a block of wood. Either that or a mummified fish carcus.

A man and his wooden fish.

You could literally beat someone to death with this 'fish' and then shave off some pieces to devour your victim. I have a feeling katsuobushi is popular among angry cannibals.

A hunk of this stuff doesn't come cheap and sells for well over 1000円 ($12), though if shaven finely enough it will yield you plenty of fish flakes to last your tummy well into obesity. While anyone can shave at home, it's often left to the cooks, while the 'woodifying' process is best left to the professionals.

So how does a tuna fish become a deadly yet tastey block of wood? Instead of copying and pasting, I'll just now direct you over to wikipedia.

Happy wood eating everyone!

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