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What is Katsuobushi (Bonito Flake)? Bonito Flakes Substitute & Use 2023

What is Katsuobushi (Bonito Flake)? Bonito Flakes Substitute & Use 2023. uses for bonito flakes, bonito flakes substitute, bonito flakes in Japanese, what is bonito flakes made of, bonito flakes recipe, bonito flakes near me, bonito flakes for cats, can you eat bonito flakes out of the bag

Don’t be put off by the name. Katsuobushi is simply Bonito flakes that have been dried. If you’re wondering what dried bonito flakes are, they’re just smoked and fermented fish fillets that have been dried.

You may now be wondering, “What exactly do I do with this ingredient?” Katsuobushi is a savoury Japanese ingredient that may be used in a variety of cuisines, including as a zesty rice topping.

If you want to try them at home (they’re available in most grocery stores), here are a couple of simple dishes that use this tasty and traditional Japanese item.

Ingredients for Katsuobushi Rice:

1 cup katsuobushi (purchased from a grocery store)

1 Tbsp sake

1/3 tsp sugar

1 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce

2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds

2 cups Japanese rice


To begin, dampen the packed Bonito flakes with a small amount of Sake. After that, cut them up into small pieces.

In a heavy, dry pan over medium heat, cook the flakes. Make sure to keep stirring so they don’t burn. Add the sake, soy sauce, and sugar once the flakes are fairly dry. Cook over medium heat until the flakes are evenly coated in glaze. Then, carefully whisk in the sesame seeds and remove from the heat. To cool the flakes, spread them out on a plate.

Follow the package directions for making the rice. Then, on a dish, arrange the steaming rice with the freshly prepared Bonito flakes. This is a simple recipe that is tasty and real. Enjoy!

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Ingredients in Japanese Dashi Broth:

4 Cups water

2 x 4 inch of dried kelp (Kombu)

3 Tablespoons dried Bonito flakes


In a big pot on the stove, heat the kombo and water on high. Remove the kombo from the saucepan when it begins to boil (just before the little bubble stage).

Allow the water to boil for a few minutes more before adding the Bonito flakes to the kettle.

After the soup has reached a full boil, pour it into a large serving bowl using a strainer.

Miso soup is made with dashi broth, a delicious Japanese stock foundation. It can also be served without noodles or as a standalone broth. It will last approximately a week in the fridge. It’s in the fridge. This bonito flakes dish is as simple as it is wonderful!

Why not take a break and let us do the cooking for you, since you’re seeking for new methods to spice up your kitchen prep? We have a Pan Asian Latin Fusion menu at Casa Sensei, as well as a bar service with both classic and unique cocktails and a view of the waterfront that will take your breath away. You can even take a romantic gondola trip to your table.

One of the most important components in Japanese cuisine is katsuobushi, or dried bonito flake. Katsuobushi, which is high in umami flavour, is used to make stock as well as a topping, garnish, and spice for everything from noodles to rice to eggs.

What Is Katsuobushi?

Skipjack tuna, often known as bonito, is used to make katsuobushi. It’s high in inosinate, an amino acid that gives food its umami flavour. When inosinate is coupled with glutamate, an amino acid that is similarly high in umami, the two chemicals have a synergistic action that boosts the umami flavour significantly. As a result, traditional Japanese soup stock, known as dashi, is made with dried bonito flakes and kombu, a glutamate-rich dried kelp.

The bonito is filleted and boiled before being smoked many times to make katsuobushi. After that, it goes through a fermentation and sun-drying process that can take months. The resulting slabs are as hard as wood and contain approximately 80% less moisture than wood, making them one of the world’s hardest foods.

These slabs must be shaved into paper-thin flakes before cooking with katsuobushi. This method of slicing the bonito exposes more surface area, allowing the umami qualities to be released more quickly in boiling water. Because dried bonito also includes amino acids that take longer to dissolve, Japanese chefs remove the flakes rapidly so that only the inosinate is released, resulting in a more pure umami flavour and aroma, as well as a clearer stock.

Bonito flakes are not very expensive, especially per serving, because they are only used in a small amount in most recipes.

Katsuobushi Uses

The two most prevalent uses for katsuobushi are to make traditional kombu dashi, or soup stock, and to use as a topping, garnish, and spice for a variety of dishes such as noodles, eggs, rice, vegetables, and tofu. It’s also a filling for rice balls and a component of okonomiyaki, or Japanese pancakes. Bonito flakes are used in soups, stir-fries, and casseroles to enhance umami qualities. It’s even been used to manufacture cat snacks.

Sprinkling dried bonito flakes on a bowl of hot rice are one traditional dish is known as Neko manma, or cat rice. The rice steam might cause the bonito flakes to curl and sway. The thin flakes reabsorbing moisture via steam, which happens at varying speeds due to varying thicknesses, causes this movement. The movement stops after the flakes are thoroughly wet.

Furikake, a popular seasoning mix, frequently contains small fragments of dried bonito flakes, as well as salt and other ingredients including sesame seeds, dried seaweed, and fried egg. In the same manner that salt and pepper are used in western cooking, this mixture is sprinkled on everything.

How to Cook With Katsuobushi

Many Japanese chefs buy full katsuobushi slabs and shave them themselves using special graters that consist of a wooden box with a drawer to catch the flakes. Dried bonito pieces are available in Japan, although most home cooks buy pre-shaved bonito flakes in bags. These flakes are then added to broth or utilised in other recipes as a topping, filler, or whatever the recipe calls for.

What Does It Taste Like?

Katsuobushi has a meaty, savoury flavour that is faintly salty, smokey, slightly fishy, and intensely umami—a meaty, savoury flavour. It’s almost like a cross between dried fish and dried bacon, or even smoked fish jerky, thanks to the smokiness; yet, because it’s sliced micro-thin, it’s practically feathery, rather than chewy. It’s not uncommon for people to consume the flakes directly from the bag as a snack.

Recipes for Katsuobushi

Bonito flakes can be used to flavour broth, salads, rice dishes, and other Japanese-inspired meals.

  • Katsuo Dashi Soup
  • Okaka Onigiri Rice Balls
  • Chilled Japanese Okra Salad

Where can I get Katsuobushi?

If you reside near an Asian or Japanese grocery shop, you should be able to find dried bonito flakes in a variety of sizes and occasionally in bulk. They’re also available from a variety of merchants online. You can buy full katsuobushi blocks online, but you’ll also need a box grater to shave them down.


Dried bonito flakes are particularly resistant to bacterial decomposition due to the drying and smoking process, which is a method of food preservation. Dried bonito flakes will keep for six months to a year if kept cold and dry and stored in the resealable bag they came in or another airtight bag or container. In humid conditions, their shelf life may be reduced.

What is Katsuobushi (Bonito Flake) Bonito Flakes Substitute & Use 2023

Best Bonito Flakes Substitutes

You may acquire the flavour of Bonito flakes without using Bonito by substituting shellfish, such as shrimp or prawns. Shiitake mushrooms are a vegan alternative for a nutritious substitution. They would give your dish an umami flavour.

The flavour of glutamate is a significant trigger for umami. To prepare the most umami-rich recipes, you’ll need to combine all of the components’ flavours in one go.

The Bonito flakes have created a one-of-a-kind work.

Let’s go through the substitutions in depth; we’ve included eight of them for variety’s sake, so you’ll have plenty of choices.

1. Dulse flakes and Nori

The sea not only satisfies your meat and fish appetites, but we also love it far more than those from the sea. Dulse flakes are a type of sea plant that has just the perfect amount of crisp, making them an excellent replacement.

Nori, on the other hand, is a type of seaweed that is particularly popular in Japanese cooking and is used in a variety of dishes. If you’re looking for a vegan alternative to Katsuobushi, this is a great choice.

Both would be fantastic when mixed!

2. Kombu or Konbu

Don’t be perplexed. It is pronounced konbu at times and kombu at other times. It’s a type of edible brown algae that’s commonly used to make dashi. In some meals, kombu is combined with bonito flakes, but it can also be used on its own.

It’s a great vegetarian alternative to Bonito flakes because it has the same qualities as Bonito flakes.

Kombu has the same benefits as bonito flakes in terms of increasing the umami flavour of a meal. Glutamic acid, often known as glutamate, is mostly obtained from kombu.

3. Mackerel powder

Mackerel is a type of fish with a similar texture and flavour to bonito. Its powder is commonly used in Japanese cuisine and may be found in almost every meal.

Exactly! It is for this reason that Mackerel powder is widely available in supermarkets all over the world.

There’s no need to panic if you need Katsuobushi for a dish you’re preparing and can’t find it. Mackerel powder is the most similar thing you can obtain to bonito flakes.

4. Dried Shiitake Mushroom

The shiitake mushroom is another great source of umami flavour. To produce vegetarian dashi, they’re combined with kombu.

Although shiitake mushroom dashi is not generally used in traditional Japanese cooking due to its strong flavour, it can be utilised in specific dishes and may even be more suited to a Western palate.

Although fresh shiitake mushrooms can be used in place of bonito flakes, we recommend using the dried form. Guanylate, a natural sodium salt found in shiitake mushrooms, causes an umami taste response.

5. Toasted Soy Beans

To prepare dashi, Buddhist monks frequently use toasted soybeans, which always work flawlessly. Soybean dashi has a mild flavour and is delicate enough not to overshadow the flavours of the other ingredients in your recipe.

It’s worth a go for those who can’t stand either fish or mushrooms. The key to getting the finest flavour out of the beans is to roast them with care and patience.

6. Iriko or Baby Anchovies

If you enjoy fish and want the salty, fishy flavour that bonito flakes provide in the broth, baby anchovies are a great option.

Many establishments sell them under the name “niboshi,” which translates to “little dried fish.”

When creating miso soup or udon noodle soup, iriko dashi is a popular substitute for bonito flakes dashi. It also pairs particularly well with the flavour of kombu dashi.

Boiling the niboshi as it’s being made enhances its inosinate content, giving it a more umami flavour.

7. White Fish

Many people question if canned tuna can be used as a substitute for bonito flakes. No, that is not the case.

Skipjack tuna is used to make bonito flakes for a purpose.

Its mild flavour lets the other components take centre stage. In the case of canned tuna or even mackerel, however, the opposite is true.

Their strong fishy flavour can easily dominate other flavours.

Instead, go for white fish like sea bass, cod, halibut, catfish, and snapper, which are oil-free and have subtle flavours.

8. Shellfish

This is just another fantastic option to consider. Shrimp, prawns, scallops, and oysters can readily mimic the fishy, mouthwatering flavour and richness of bonito flakes.

Although this removes the shellfish’s smoky flavour, you’ll have to make do.

9. Nutritional Yeast

If you’re looking for a substitute for bonito flakes, nutritional yeast is an excellent choice.

Although it is not well known and accepted by the Japanese because it is not a traditional Japanese condiment and is not usually used to produce dashi, it does provide a strong umami flavour. It’s a versatile topping for a variety of foods.

It can be used to top tofu, noodles, and a variety of other savoury meals that call for bonito flakes.

Most Commonly Asked Questions

What’s the best way to manufacture bonito flakes?

Bonito flakes are leftovers from the drying of bonito fish. The fish is chopped into flakes, but the process isn’t straightforward. You must go through arduous procedures that are too many to detail in this post. We’ll just make a list of them. Cutting, kagodate (putting in a basket), boiling, removing bones, smoking, shaving the surface, drying, and final shaving are the steps involved.

What is the difference between dashi and bonito flakes?

Bonito flakes and dashi are not the same thing. Dashi is made using a variety of ingredients, including bonito flakes.

Is it possible to prepare dashi without using Bonito flakes?

Absolutely! Simply immerse your kombu in water and allow it to settle. Dashi is unexpectedly umami-rich without the bonito flakes; this is because kombu contains glutamates that are also found in bonito flakes.

What’s up with my Bonito flakes floating around?

Your bonito flakes aren’t alive, so don’t be alarmed. The katsuobushi move when they are offered hot food because of their thin, nearly weightless bulk.

Is it safe to eat raw bonito flakes?

Bonito flakes can be eaten raw. Just keep in mind that the fish degrades quickly, so eat it all while it’s still fresh.

Katsuobushi Substitutes, in Conclusion

In Japanese cuisine, bonito flakes are difficult to substitute. It has a particular flavour and is so important in the preparation of Japanese meals that leaving it out can completely spoil a dish.

Because Skipjack tuna is a Japanese fish, finding it in other parts of the world can be difficult. As a result, Katsuobushi is extremely difficult to come by, and you’ll need to get it from a certain merchant or location.

You don’t need to be concerned if you read this post and recognised the different Bonito flakes substitutes mentioned above.

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Home » What is Katsuobushi (Bonito Flake)? Bonito Flakes Substitute & Use 2023

What is Katsuobushi (Bonito Flake)? Bonito Flakes Substitute & Use 2023

What is Katsuobushi (Bonito Flake) Bonito Flakes Substitute & Use 2023