Namaribushi (生利節)

Namaribushi or Namabushi is a primary processed food made of raw bonito, which is cut, steamed, and boiled. Other than bonito, tuna and mackerel may be used. It may be smoked lightly.

It has been actively produced since the Edo period. It is now produced near big landing ports of bonito or tuna located in Shizuoka Prefecture, Kagoshima Prefecture, Mie Prefecture, Kochi Prefecture, Wakayama Prefecture and Chiba Prefecture because raw fish is directly processed there. Because freshness is limited, as it contains about fourty percent water, the amount of the product was less than for dried bonito which could be stored for a longer time, and product can only be distributed near the place of production, a little larger area than for fresh fish until transportation by railway began. From Yaize in Shizuoka Prefecture, since the opening of the Tokaido Main Line in 1889, it had become distributed even to the metropolitan areas of Tokyo and Osaka, but sometimes namaribushi became rotten although though it could be kept longer than than fresh fish. Since 1908 when ice began to be used ice for keeping fish fresh, ice was also used during railway transportation of namaribushi.

The preparation is as follows. Cut off the head of the fish and remove the internal organs.
Make a slit along the length and cut the symmetrical right and left halves, leaving the backbone
Boil the filets (except for the backbone) for several tens of minutes. After boiling, remove the bones. Unlike dried bonito, the skin is left. As the pattern of bonito skin has a commercial value, a process of drying may be used to protect the skin from peeling off. The final products include the shape of the filet half or pieces cut a few cm wide that can easily eaten. Because the step of process is simple, it is possible to process and cook from fresh fish personally.

Bushi of namaribushi is common to the bushi of katsuobushi (dried bonito), but namaribushi is not dried as much as katsuobushi, therefore it can be eaten as it is. It is edible without any special preparation. As no seasoning is added, it is generally eaten with soy sauce, boiled with ginger, made into a vinegar flavored food or put into miso soup.

Namaribushi is a season word of summer together with hatsugatsuo (the season's first bonito).

[Original Japanese]