Just last week, one of our Japanese-language reporters was watching "Gatten!", a TV program on national broadcaster NHK, when one of their segments immediately caught her attention.
Discussing ways to use up leftover katsuobushi (bonito fish flakes), a staple in Japanese households, the presenters had some clever suggestions for viewers, with ideas like katsuobushi-infused oil, katsuobushi-infused butter, and even katsuobushi-infused alcohol drawing “oohs” and “ahhs” from the audience.
However, out of all these inventive recipe ideas, there was one that really stood out from all the others: katsuobushi ice cream. While fish-flavored ice cream might not sound that appealing, the presenters were adamant that mixing fish flakes with ice cream actually transforms it into a more luxurious dessert. Sachi, our Japanese-language reporter, was keen to try out the recipe to see how much truth there really was to this odd-sounding claim.
For those keen to walk on the wild side of vanilla ice cream, here’s NHK’s recipe:
– 200 milliliters of vanilla ice cream
– 2 grams of dried bonito fish flakes
– Pinch of salt
1: Rub the bonito flakes in the packet to loosen
2: Add the bonito flakes and salt into the ice cream and mix well
Sachi chose to use a tub of Meiji Essel Super Cup Ultra Vanilla — one of the cheapest and best-loved ice cream varieties on the market — for this experiment, and was incredibly impressed with the ease of it all.
It took less than a couple of minutes to add the fine pieces of fish flakes to the ice cream, and when she tasted it, she couldn’t deny that there was a new depth of flavour created by the addition of bonito.
However, it was at this moment that she realised she’d forgotten to add salt to the mix. Sachi grabbed a pinch and mixed it in and it was at this point that she was totally won over by the unusual combination. The plain vanilla ice cream was even more delicious than ever.
The flavor was so well-rounded and had such a rich depth to it that it tasted entirely different to the plain vanilla ice cream she was used to. The addition of salt and fish flakes brought the texture and flavor up to a whole new level, giving it a luxurious taste that made her feel like she was eating a much more expensive brand of ice cream.
While she couldn’t explain exactly why the ice cream tasted so high-class, she guessed that it had something to do with the umami from the smoked bonito fish. Since there was little fish aroma emanating from the dish, her cat was curious enough to come over and take a sniff as well.
Totally satisfied with the upmarket ice cream she’d just created, Sachi was tempted to keep some for afterwards, but according to the presenters on the TV show, the mix tends to taste a bit more salty after it’s frozen, so it’s best to eat it after the mix is freshly made.
Sachi says this is one of the easiest and best ice cream recipes she’s ever come across, and she wholeheartedly recommends trying it.
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