Katsuo Tataki is one of Kochi Prefecture’s most famous dish: amazing flavor and beautiful colors!
We could consider Tataki like a modern style of sashimi – this dish is a local delicacy of Kochi Prefecture, known as Tosa province in old times. Some people claim that tataki was created by the famous historic figure Sakamoto Ryoma, one of the most important samurais of the end of the Bakumatsu era…
Traditionally, katsuo tataki is cooked very quickly in a huge straw fire, as seen below:
Why? Using that method, only the surface is cooked, keeping the center raw. The smoke from the burned straw gives the meat some good smokiness, enhancing its flavor even further.
Katsuo (鰹), also known as bonito or skipjack tuna, is a naturally super fatty fish which some people may find a bit too strong to eat as it is. However, by searing the surface part, some of the strong taste goes away while slightly melting the inner fat, giving katsuo tataki its characteristic buttery flavor.
Unfortunately, right now at home I cannot make huge fire camps like that, so I’m using my favorite cooking tool – the blowtorch! – to cook the surface of katsuo. If you don’t have one (you should get one, it’s really useful!), pierce the katsuo fillet using skewers then broil the surface on the stove top on high heat.
For the salad, I picked mizuna (Japanese mustard), blanched onion slices, crunchy fried garlic, spring onions, grated ginger and wasabi as garnishes. Shiso leaves are another very common option (had to leave them out since Ochazuke is not a big fan…). Today’s garnishes are strong-flavored, contrasting very nicely with the katsuo tataki.
For the sauce, I used a vinaigrette made of ponzu and garlic oil – the oil I used to fry the garnishing garlic. I kind of had this idea on the run and I loved the results, please try doing that too!
- 1 fillet of sashimi-grade katsuo (skipjack tuna/bonito)
- 1 bunch of mizuna
- Half onion, cut in small wedges.
- 2 garlic cloves, cut in slices
- 1tbsp of oil
- 5tbsp of ponzu sauce
- Grated ginger
- Chopped scallions
- Using a blowtorch or the top of the stove on high heat, sear the surface of the fish, evenly.
- Put the fillet in cold water to stop it from overcooking.
- Dry the fillets using paper towel.
- Prepare the garnishes.
- Using a small frying pan, deep fry the garlic in oil on low heat until golden brown.
- Remove the garlic, remove the excess oil with a paper towel and leave the oil to cool down.
- Blanch the onions in hot water for 15 minutes to remove the excessive bitterness. Then use running water to cool down and reserve them.
- Wash and roughly cut the mizuna in large pieces. Dry and reserve it.
- Mix well the ponzu and the garlic oil, emulsifying the sauce. Reserve it.
- Slice the fish.
- Assemble the dish, from the bottom to the top: Onions and mizuna first, then the fish slices, at last the fried garlic and the scallions. You may spread out ginger between the tataki slices or keep them like I did in the arranged picture above/below.
- Pour the sauce over the katsuo tataki when you’re about to serve it.
- Serve the dish.
In order to keep the dish as fresh as possible, slice the fish just before serving it. In fact, the same rule applies for the sauce too.
You may use this recipe to prepare other fishes – oily fishes will particularly give nice results.
I’d suggest eating this dish by adding a little bit of everything that is on the place in each single bite.