Saturday, February 4, 2012

[花蓮縣] - 七星柴魚博物館 - Chihsing Tan Katsuo Museum in Hualien county - Holy Smokey Fishy Goodness!

Some years back I had the pleasure of joining some friends on a road trip that took us first from Taipei to Yilan county, then southward towards Hualien county 花蓮縣. It is truly an amazing oasis on the eastern side of the coast. What surprised me the most was that in the middle of nowhere, next to a rocky beach (no sand) that is supposedly near a military base (and often used for practice), is a museum. Right by the Chising Tan area 七星潭風景區.

Not just any museum, but one dedicated to....katsuoboshi or bonito flakes (鰹節 or かつおぶし in Japanese). Commonly referred by the Taiwanese as 柴魚片, coming from the fish bonito which the locals call 鰹魚. Whoa?! It turns out that every year, there are tons and tons and tons of katsuo harvested off the coast of Hualien, and made into bonito flakes via fermentation and smoking process.
This museum preserves some local history (showcasing the life of local fishermen), food culture, and knowledge, and is a very well known tourist attraction.

No need to give away too much, but make sure you drop by the gift shop for a lot of great fantastic katsuo based goodies, from the typical bonito flakes, bonito flakes seasoned soy sauces, dip sauces, and also Taiwanese snacks made with katsuoboshi (e.g. fish floss made with katsuo). Free samples for some stuff too. It is hard to resist.

And when you're done, don't miss the food section (looks like a canteen with benches and tables), where you can get takoyaki, fishball soup (stock enhanced with bonito flakes), katsuo roe sausage, and a few more.

七星柴魚博物館 Chihsing Tan Katsuo Museum
花蓮縣新城鄉七星街148號 Hualien County, Hsun Chun village, Chihsing Street #148

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