Bonito Flakes


Katsuobushi is dried and smoked bonito (skipjack tuna) that is then shaved into thin flakes. It is a key ingredient in Japanese cooking, specifically its use in making dashi, a fish stock commonly used as a base in many recipes.


Other names: Dried Bonito, Dried Bonito Flakes, Katsuo-Bushi, Katsuobushi, Katsuoboshi
Translations: Bonito pārslas, Fulgi de Bonito, Bonito pahuljice, बोनिटो गुच्छे, Хлопья Bonito, Bonito Νιφάδες, بونيتو رقائق, 다랑어 눈송이, Bonito vločky, Bonito natuklap, 鲣, Flocs Bonic, Bonito Kosmiči, Bonito vločky, פתיתי בוניטו, Бонито пахуљицама, カツオフレーク, Flocons de bonite, Bonito-Flocken, Copos Bonito, Пластівці Bonito, Sardasäilykkeiden Flakes, Паламуд пръчици

Physical Description

They look similar to wood shavings but are actually flakes or shavings of dried and smoked flesh of the bonito fish, which is a relative of mackerel.

Colors: Pale to dark brown.

Tasting Notes

Flavors: fishy, umami
Mouthfeel: Oily in texture
Food complements: Tofu, Octopus, Rice, Seaweed, Egg, Soba, Ginger, Green onion
Beverage complements: Sake, Beer, Shochu

Selecting and Buying

Seasonality: january, february, march, april, may, june, july, august, september, opctober, november, december
Buying: Usually packed in clear, airtight bags and can be found in any Asian store.
Procuring: The bonito fish is first boiled and then dried, aging it, before shaved into fine strands of short or thicker flakes.

Preparation and Use

Bonito flakes are used to make katsuobushi-dashi, for onigiri filling and in making ponzu sauce.

Bonito flakes is an essential component of numerous Japanese cuisine dishes and one of the basic ingredients of dashi, a widely used stock in Japanese cuisine.

Also widely used flavoring for Asian sauces, noodle dishes and as garnish and seasoning in soups and overcooked vegetables.

Cleaning: Bonito flakes are processed and are therefore ready-to-use and eat.

Conserving and Storing

Opened bags of bonito flakes should be tightly closed and stored in the refrigerator after use. It is advised that you consume the whole opened bag as soon as possible, within three weeks, to avoid oxidation of fish oil which will make your dishes taste bitter and fishy.


History: It was not until the Muromachi period (1336-1573) that records speak of something vaguely resembling katsuobushi as we know it today; not simply dried, but also hardened.



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Nicolas's picture

Katsuobushi is not only dried and smoked but fermentation also has an important part. It is the mold that cracks the fat molecules and transforms them into savory umami. Traditionally umeboshi is sold as a whole and shaved at home, but pre-packed flakes are very convenient.

Here is a photo of a whole katsuoboshi