Bonito Tataki is the representative sashimi dish of Kōchi prefecture. When the bonito skin is seared and charred, it gives an appetising aroma to the sashimi. Slice the fillets thicker than usual sashimi slices and eat them with ponzu dressing.
Cut each side of bonito along both sides of the spine, as close to the spine as possible (to remove bones along the spine). Discard the spine strips. This will make four long portions.
Place the fillet skin side down on a cutting board and stab four skewers through the fillet at equal intervals. Put the skewers through in such a way that they make a fan shape and the base ends of the skewers are bunched together to allow holding of the end easier (see the step-by-step photos).
Turn the stove on high. Holding the base of the skewers, sear the skin side of the fillet, starting from one end of the fillet and moving slowly to the other end.
Turn the fillet over and sear the flesh. You will only need to sear to make the colour of the surface to whitish.
Place the fillet in the ice water for 15 seconds or so to cool it down quickly, then use kitchen paper to dry it. Place it on a plate.
Place a seared fillet on a cutting board, skin side up. Slice the fillet into pieces about 1 cm thick and plate them into a group of 3-4 slices with garnish (see the photos in the post).
Serve with ponzu dressing and condiments.
1. I bought a whole bonito which was 1.5kg (3.3lb), about 35cm (13¾") long but when filleted, it weighed only 350g (0.8lb) for two sides.
2. If the skewers are slightly thicker, that’s ok but then you might need only 3 skewers. Bamboo skewers are not suitable as they will burn.
If you don’t have skewers, you can sear the fillets on a griddle over the stove/BBQ or a frying pan. Make sure that the griddle/frying pan is very hot so that the bonito skin gets burnt quickly.
3. This is to cool down the seared fillet so you need a bowl/baking dish with the sufficient width to dip the entire fillet in.
4. It is a tradition to eat bonito tataki with ponzu dressing but if you prefer, you can use soy sauce. My post, Japanese Dressings describes how to make ponzu dressing at home. You can also buy a bottle of ponzu dressing at Asian/Japanese grocery stores.