Bonito flakes are used often used as a garnish in Japanese salads and flavouring in many dishes. When added to a hot dish, the flakes “wave” or “dance” on the surface of the food, which catches the eye of diners! They are in fact a fish product.
Bonito flakes = Katsuobushi (Japanese)
Bonito flakes or katsuobushi is created from dried, fermented and smoked skipjack tuna. The name bonito flakes is applied when young bonito (type of fish) is substituted for the tuna. It is cheaper to make than the tuna-based product.
Bonito flakes are finely shaved flakes of dried fish. They are part of the ingredients used to make dashi – a broth that forms that basis of many Japanese dishes. Dashi is made from bonito flakes and dried kelp (kombu).
These flakes have a distinct savoury and salty taste. Often when used as a garnish, they bring a contrasting flavour to the meal they adorn eg salads, soups and vegetables. As well as flavouring soup stock they are also used in Asian sauces and noodle dishes.
Bonito flakes are a must in the list of core ingredients to have in your pantry when making Japanese dishes. They are an easy get in the supermarket (here) and not expensive.