An Introduction to Katsuobushi

All art and illustrations in this series and article have been contributed kindly by the lovely Linran, who can be found at

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Honkarebushi (本枯節) and the very rare Satsuma bushi (薩摩節) on sale at the Tsukiji Outer Market

Katsuobushi, as a crucial ingredient in dashi, is the most ubiquitous ingredient in Japanese cuisine, and the foundation upon which other flavours are built. To make it, skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis) is first cleaned, then simmered, and finally repeatedly smoked and fermented into katsuobushi. In fact, it is one of the highest naturally occurring sources of glutamic acids, alongside kombu. It is these two ingredients that play an integral part of Japanese cuisine’s history, as they were long celebrated as the source of “Umami”, long before the western world adopted the term.

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Fresh katsuobushi (鰹節) being shaved for customers at Katsuo Shokudou (かつお食堂)

In this series of articles that will be published over the next few days, I will cover various topics regarding katsuobushi, with an in-depth explanation of the various aspects of katsuobushi production. 

As with other projects in this website, these articles are works in progress. Any feedback is appreciated and can be sent to