The quality of ingredients affects the deliciousness of any dish, but when it comes to the delicate Japanese cuisine, high-quality soup stock is more important than anything else. Nagaishoten manufactures dried bonito, which is so essential to soup stock. The company uses old-fashioned methods and is very particular about the freshness and quality of the raw ingredients. Boshu-san Hana Katsuo (Dried bonito flakes) is made from cured, boiled bonito caught in the nearby waters of Katsuura Fishing Port. The freshly caught bonito are so fresh they can be eaten sliced raw and have a beautiful, clear color like cherry blossoms. Not only do the dried bonito flakes produce high-quality, highly fragrant soup stock, but they can also be enjoyed on pasta or pizza. Saba Hanakezuri (Dried mackerel flakes) is made from fresh blue mackerel caught when it tastes best, prior to spawning (March to May). The dried mackerel flakes produce a tasty, rich soup stock. Both products are certified by the "land of fisheries," Chiba prefecture, as a Chiba Brand Marine Product, a brand known all over Japan.
Price: ¥620 for Hana Katsuo, left, ¥540 for Saba Hanakezuri
Manufacturer: Nagaishoten Co. in Kamogawa, Chiba Prefecture (nagai-katsuobushi.com)