Seared Bonito with Ginger, Garlic, and Chives (Katsuo No Tataki)

From Japanese Farm Food

Reprinted with permission from Japanese Farm Food by Nancy Singleton Hachisu, published in 2012 by Andrews McMeel Publishing.

In Japan, bonito (skipjack tuna) season starts in spring with lean, clear-flavored flesh and ends in fall with fatty, darkly flavored (and colored) meat. I love both seasons, but I particularly like to taste the change in flavor and fat as we move into the summer. I also like that the fish makes sense. In the spring you are looking for lighter and brighter food, whereas in the fall you are ready for stronger or heartier fare. Nature is funny that way. If we leave it be, it gives us what we want when we want. No need to eat out of season. —NSH


Courtesy of Japanese Farm Food

Serves 6

  • A side of sashimi-quality fresh bonito
  • Sea salt

Dipping Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons yuzu, sudachi, or Meyer lemon juice


  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon finely julienned ginger
  • ½ tablespoon yuzu, sudachi, or Meyer lemon zest (optional)

Cut out the bonito’s dorsal bone to create 2 elongated triangular-shaped filets. Scrape off any hard spots on the flesh. Set the filets side by side on a cutting board or dinner plate and salt lightly on all sides from about a foot above the fish. Poke the filets through the horizontal side, skin side up, with five 1½-foot-long metal skewers, keeping the handles all at the same place and the tips radiating out like an open fan.

Heap straw in a barbecue and light (or prepare a high-flame charcoal grill). Carefully hold the skewered filets directly in the flames, rotating until the skin sizzles and all sides are seared. (Take heed: This operation is quite difficult if there is any breeze.) Plunge the filets into ice water to cool. Remove from the water, pat dry, and wrap in a clean kitchen towel before refrigerating. Alternatively, sear over a hot stove flame, wrap in a paper towel, and place in the fridge for l to 2 hours or 30 minutes in the freezer to cool.

When ready to eat, slice diagonally into ¼-inch-thick pieces and fan out overlapping slices on a beautiful round dinner plate, working from the outside in like flower petals.

Make the dipping sauce by mixing the soy sauce and citrus juice. Sprinkle the sliced fish with the dipping sauce and garnishes. Serve immediately.