Swish, swish, swish… Have you ever shaved katsuobushi? Katsuobushi is often associated with neko mamma (rice topped with bonito flakes) or okonomiyaki (Japanese style savory pancakes containing meat, seafood or vegetables), where the katsuobushi ‘dances’ on the top of these dishes. However, it wasn’t long ago when every Japanese household had a block of katsuobushi that they shaved before each meal.
The pleasant shaving sound and appetizing smoky aroma make katsuobushi shaving a special experience. The taste of freshly shaved katsuobushi is indescribably good. More so, nothing in the world tastes better than the katsuobushi you shave together with your friends or family.
“How do you shave katsuobushi?” “Wow, you shave it so well!” “Show me how to shave katsuobushi…”
This is an experience that brings people together. I think this is the most special and appealing aspect of katsuobushi shaving. Now I would like to introduce a few tips to keep in mind when shaving katsuobushi.
1. Wipe off any mold on the katsuobushi with a drying cloth. Place the skin side (a line is visible on this side where the bones have been removed) of the katsuobushi up.
2. Position the katsuobushi shaver with the blade edges facing you, and place the katsuobushi on the shaver with its head towards you.
3. Hold the shaver box with one hand and, the katsuobushi block with your other hand. Using the palm of your hand, firmly shave the block by sliding it back and forth across the blade. Don’t worry if it is initially powdery, just remain calm and continue to shave.
4. Adjustments of the Blade
To adjust the blade, tap the base of the katsuobushi shaver. The blade recedes when you hit the top end of the shaver. The blade raises when you tap the lower end of the shaver.
5. The ideal height for the blade is approximately 0.1 mm (the thickness of a sheet of paper) from the surface of the base. With this height you can shave the katsuobushi into beautiful thin strips.
Katsuobushi is one of the varieties of dashi (a basic broth used to prepare Japanese cuisine).
The act of shaving katsuobushi is unique to Japanese culture.
It was in the summer and I was 25 years old. I was a party animal at that time, and my mother, having lost patience with me, encouraged me to go visit my grandmother. The scenery of my grandmother’s house was unchanging. My grandmother took a katsuobushi shaver from a cupboard and started to shave katsuobushi.
“This katsuobushi shaver was a gift from your grandfather.” As she told me the background history of the shaver, I was deeply fascinated by the beautiful manner in which she shaved. And the miso soup she prepared with the freshly shaved katsuobushi was exquisite. That is why I decided to set off on a trip around Japan with a katsuobushi shaver, in hopes that one day I, too, will be an attractive lady like my grandmother. On November 24, 2015, I started a new katsuobushi specialized shop, lined with the delicious katsuobushi I encountered during my trip. Currently I am focusing my efforts on introducing the attractiveness of katsuobushi through art, music, fashion and other areas.
Media / Publications
February 2015, article in OZ magazine, March edition
March 2015, speaker at TEDx TOKYOyz [event]
June 2015, article in BRUTUS [magazine]
June 2016, appeared on ‘Yusuke Iseya KAI presents EARTH RADIO’ [program]