Bonito (Kochi Prefecture)
Bonito is a very popular fish in Japan and nobori-katsuo (bonito swimming north) is highly prized. The Tosa area in Kochi is famous for its good quality bonito, which is actually designated as the official fish of the prefecture. They are tasty when eaten as sashimi and are the main ingredient in sawachi, a traditional dish in Tosa. Another famous dish is tataki (lightly roasted bonito). The bonito fillet is roasted lightly till it becomes golden in color, but it should still be raw in the center. As soon as it is roasted, you put it in cold water and drain it quickly. Then you eat it with leeks, ginger, Japanese basil or garlic by dipping it in ponzu sauce (pressed from a bitter orange).
Tai or Snapper (Ehime Prefecture)
Tai is a very familiar fish to the Japanese. Red snapper in particular are called the “King of fish,” and with the head still on, they have been a crucial element in rituals and celebrations since ancient times. As a cooking ingredient their advantages include a beautiful shape, excellent taste, firm flesh and a wide range of uses in various kinds of dishes. They are in season from April to May. Having fed on shrimp, crab and shellfish, the taste of snapper caught in the Inland Sea is exceptional. Ehime, close to the Inland Sea, has a local dish called taimeshi, which is prepared in two different ways – one is where a whole firm-bodied snapper is cooked with rice and the other is where sashimi covered with a special sauce mixed with egg yolk is served together with cooked rice. It is a luxurious experience you can enjoy only in Ehime blessed with such delicious fish.
Sanuki-udon or wheat-flour noodles (Kagawa Prefecture)
Kagawa, famous as the origin of Sanuki-udon (named after the prefecture’s Sanuki region), is an “Udon Kingdom,” with its many udon (wheat-flour noodle) makers and restaurants. Sanuki wheat-flour noodles are noted for their strong body and smooth texture. The basic way of eating them is to pour a kelp-based soup seasoned with light soy sauce over the noodles. Leeks, ginger, egg or sesame seeds can be added if desired. There are many varieties of toppings, including seafood or vegetable tempura, so you can enjoy various combinations. Toppings usually come with an extra charge. Many self-service wheat-flour noodle restaurants in Kagawa are renowned for their very reasonable prices. From 100 to 200 yen per bowl is the main price range there (without toppings).