A Katsuobushi is a whole block of dried smoked skipjack tuna. It is prized for its umami flavor that is used in many Japanese dish. One of the most prominent one being Takoyaki or just making Dashi Stock. However, having a Katsuobushi is only one part of it. You need a Katsuobushi Shaver to get those thin dried bonito flakes. These flakes make it looks like the dish is alive, but really its just shaved very thin.
Why is Freshly Shaved Bonito Flake Better?
All food degrades as it is exposed to air. This phenomenon is known as oxidization. As times goes, the flavor and potency drops. This is the reason why pepper and coffee is better ground fresh.
To get the best result out of a Katsuobushi, you need to shave it really thin. Something that cant be typically be done with a western mandoline or food processor. A dedicated Katsuobushi Shaver are generally more durable and set at the right angle.
How do you make Bonito Flakes at Home?
Making Bonito Flakes first involves smoking of a Skipjack Tuna. It takes a total of one month of constantly smoking, letting it cool down and resmoking. This is something that is not advisable for your average home cook. What you can do instead is to just buy a whole smoked katsuobushi. You will then use a katsuobushi shaver to shave it thin. The end results should be bonito flake.
To Shave a katsuobushi, place the box on a rubber mat. This prevents it from moving around too much. If you do not have a rubber mat, grip it by the base. Get a clean towel and wrap it around the top of the katsuobushi. This will be used as a make shift handle. From the base, run it along the katsuobushi Shaver. Eventually, it should even out and you will get a nice and easy to work flat surface.
Best Katsuobushi Bonito Shaver List
Since this is a pretty niche item, your selection is pretty limited. In Japan, there are a wider selection of manufacturer and material. Some shaver can even be made of steel. Unfortunately, we cant get those option in the states. The good thing is that these wooden shaver are the most traditional and made by true artisan.
KAKURI Dry Bonito Flake Shaver (Best Overall)
Kakuri are a manufacturer of traditional Bonito Shaver. These product is hand crafted in the City of Tsubame, Japan. For the blade, it uses a high quality Aogami Blue Paper Steel. Something that is only seen in the highest grade of Japanese knife. At the bottom of the box, there is a little storage for your freshly shaven bonito flakes.
Ai-kogyo Bonito Flake Shaver Okaka 22011 (Best Modern Shaver)
If you are looking for a modern and easier to use model. Consider the one by Ai-Kogyo. It uses a handle that you twist. All you need to do is load it in and churn. Its safer for your hand and takes less effort. The bottom has a clear container for easy storage.
Katsuobushi are a crucial ingredients if you plan on cooking Japanese food. It is the base ingredients of so many dish. If you want to make Dashi or even just Miso Soup, it is recommended to get fresh Katsuobushi. Getting a bonito shaver box is also necessary if you want the best flavor possible. Unfortunately, our options are not as extensive as Japan. But fret not, the options available are still very good. While it is a bit expensive, no other western kitchen tool come close.
Looking to Make Sushi? Check out our article on the Best Handai aka Hangiri Bowl aka Sushi Oke. Its a wooden bowl design to cool and mix sushi rice.