What is behind the shiso leaves? It looks like pink strips. I didn’t know bonito was so red!
It is called myouga…I have no idea what it is in English. Like a cross between ginger and spring onion, with a curious crunchy texture? It is pink on the outside and white within.
The fish itself is actually skipjack tuna, although any dictionary you care to look at will tell you it’s bonito. ‘Katsuo=bonito’ is one of the greatest mistranslations of all time; some poor sap in the Meiji period has a lot to answer for, with his mistake repeated in essentially every single dictionary and English-language sushi menu on Earth! Occasionally some old buffer will write into the Japan Times to complain; I haven’t got to that level yet but as an angler and scientist it is good to be precise!
The fish winter and spawn in the tropics and then head north at the start of spring; when these fish are taken (like now) they are generally very lean and muscular, and if they are fresh, they are red like the leanest bluefin meat. Like any sardine-type fish, if you leave it longer than a couple of days or worse, freeze it, it will lose both its lovely red colour and texture. These first katsuo caught and consumed in the year marks the apparent start of spring and is referred to as ‘hatsu-gatsuo’ (lit. first katsuo). So-called ‘modori-gatsuo’ (returning katsuo) taken in autumn are much fatter, having had a whole season to gorge themselves on prey, and their flesh is much more pink in colour.
As you already must know language translations tend to go from barely understandable to actually tragic with hilarious in between. Thank you for letting me know! I often have to correct fellow Americans when I hear hari-kari, which someone, I am guessing at some point in time, learned soppuku and hara kiri and then brought it back as hari-kari….Or when I hear poulo instead of pollo at Hispanic restaurants…
Well, next time you are in a Japanese restaurant in NYC and see ‘bonito’ on the menu you can make a scene, with a firm lecture on the correct translation of katsuo. Unless of course the fish turns out to actually be bonito rather than skipjack tuna.
I know what pollo is but what’s poulo? Is it something terribly rude?
P0ulo is what Americans know pollo as since at most Hispanic restaurants rice with chicken and roasted chicken are usually not translated but writen on the menu in Spanish. Is bonito like wasabi then? Is skipjack tuna much cheaper or convenient to find than bonito?We don’t ever get wasabi, but every green sploch of goo next to sushi here gets called wasabi.
Skipjack is much tastier than bonito, I think. Almost no restaurants offer bonito here, although sport anglers often take them.
Ah, the great wasabi con… it is in fact yellow mustard powder that has been dyed green. Believe it or not most restaurants here in Japan don’t serve real wasabi either. I have always wondered why nobody has ever been charged with commercial fraud for selling something clearly labelled as ‘wasabi’ that contains absolutely no wasabi whatsoever.
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