Do you know where bonito flakes came from? My first experience with what we affectionately called the “dancing fish flakes” was when takoyaki was introduced in Singapore during my Secondary days. My friends and I will queue up faithfully for the $2 bacon & cheese takoyaki with “fish flakes” toppings and mayonnaise in Takashimaya foodcourt – The store (Takopachi) is still there today!
We witnessed how bonito flakes were made in our Charity Kappou. The chef purchased the dried bonito fish & wooden shredder (Katsuobushi kezuriki) from Japan. A small stem (above) costed around $12- The chef preferred to make them from scratch as the shavings sold commercially cannot replicate the taste/smell of freshly shaved bonito.
It was an eye opening experience to see the origin of bonito flakes . The process was both time and energy consuming. The Japanese present told us that this was a traditional way of making bonito flakes and not commonly seen anymore. Many modern Japanese turn to the convenient pre-shaved bonito bags sold in supermarkets.
The “dancing fish flakes” brought back fond memories – Those were the days when life was like a box of takoyaki- simple yet satisfying!