jiān yú (鲣鱼)
Ubiquitous in Japanese flavors, bonito is a fish related to tuna and mackerel. Sometimes the term “bonito” is used interchangeably to mean both the bonito itself and the technically different skipjack tuna due to their extreme similarity and the fact that they’re both culinarily used the same way.
Bonito and skipjack tuna are most widely-used as katsuobushi (鰹節), which is made by drying and smoking the fish and then shaving it into small bits. Technically, katsuobushi should be made from skipjack tuna and bonito flakes are the “lesser” version, but they’re essentially the same unless you’re nitpicking, especially because people will often use both words to describe the same thing.
Bonito can also be eaten fresh as sashimi or seared like tuna. Outside of Japan, it’s also used in other Asian and Pacific cuisines like in Indonesia, Malaysia, Hawaii, the Maldives, and elsewhere, as well as in certain Iberian and Mediterranean dishes.
Just like all fish, bonito are high in many minerals, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids, all vital to a healthy diet.
Our Uwajimaya stores carry bonito tataki in the seafood department, as well as katsuobushi and bonito flakes in our grocery department.