Photographer's Note

Katsuo no sashimi

Main dish is, of course, sashimi.
As mentioned in NY Times sunday book review last week, Japanese NEVER favored maguro(blue fin tuna) until late 1950s.
Gourmet around Yedo's choice had been, decisively, katsu(skipjack tuna).
"Pawn one's wife to get the first catch of katsuo" is the old saying.

The difficulty of katsuo is that it "runs fast" and this excluding the fish from WTO item. Even with the benefit from the modern transportation system, it should be eaten in 30hours after cought. Especially after cut into sashimi, the meat goes a kind of destructuring, no rot but softens in a unfavorable way. This made katsuo give way to maguro as the urbanization spread and fishing places getting far from Tokyo and other large metropolitan area.

This character of katsu developed another way, dryed katsu.
Katsuo means "hard fish" despite its soft meat and destructures fast.
This is because the fish was made into boiled, fermented and dried product called "katsuobushi". Katsuobushi was used as the tax from coastal countries as old as in 7th century (Dr. Atsushi NITO, 1996) and is now indispensable in Japanese cookery.

Those gourmets around here in Hamamatsu still persueing katsuo in old style.
Some of katsuo from the same catch in a shoal have more soft and elastic meat and called "mochi katsu". Mochi katsu must be eaten in 4-5 hours after the catch. After that, it turned to be nothing but the ordinary katsuo.
While mass catch katsuo is sold 300-500yen/lb, legendary mochi katsu priced 1,000-1,500yen/lb.

tech: plate was smaller than it should be.


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