Sashimi is a thinly sliced, bite-sized piece of raw and fresh meat – usually fish, such as salmon and tuna. It’s a famous Japanese dish and is eaten raw with soy sauce and wasabi. Sashimi is usually served on a bed of daikon, without rice. Most sashimi is made from the freshest saltwater fish as because freshwater fish has higher risks of parasites. This dish came to be due to Japan being surrounded by the ocean and an abundance of seafood.
History of Sashimi
While the exact origins of sashimi are unknown, many theories exist on how the dish came to be. The word sashimi translates to ‘pierced meat’ or ‘pierced body’. Many people believe the word is derived from the traditional Japanese culinary technique Ikejime, a more humane method of killing a fish right after it being caught to prevent lactic acid buildup in order to preserve the freshness of the meat. Most fish used for sashimi are prepared using the Ikejime method, hence the theory of the name sashimi. Others believe that sashimi originated from the Sunomono, a Japanese cucumber salad dressed in vinegar. Regardless of the name’s origins, sashimi is a dish that has been enjoyed in Japan for centuries amongst all classes. In the 1960s, the first sushi restaurant in the United States was opened in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles.
While salmon and tuna are the most popular types of sashimi, almost any type of seafood can be used to make sashimi in Japan. Often used fish include not only salmon and tuna, but sea bream and flounder as well. Shrimp and squid, as well as many other types of shellfish also make for excellent sashimi. Generally speaking, saltwater fish are more available than freshwater fish due to the lower risk of parasites.
While different types of preparation methods exist for sashimi,
the most popular by far is Tsukuri, where the fish is cut into thin slices. Special sashimi knives are sold by specialty stores just for the purpose of slicing fish. Usuzukuri is another method of sashimi preparation, where the seafood is cut into even thinner slices, making it appear almost transparent. When seafood is lightly seared on the outside with ginger and green onions, the sashimi is called tataki, and one of the most prominent fish used for tataki sashimi is bonito.
When fish or seafood is put on ice to tighten its muscles, the sashimi is called “arai”. Ikizukuri is another type of sashimi where the fish might still be alive when being served. Odorigui, translated to ‘dancing meal’ means eating shrimp alive.
Sashimi is mostly commonly eaten and enjoyed with soy sauce and wasabi on the side.
Wasabi is characteristically pungent, and this is a big factor in both the smell and taste of the fish. Besides wasabi, shredded white radish and perilla is often served along with sashimi in a combination called Tsuma. Serving the fish with the radish and perilla ensures the fishy smell is kept in check and helps accentuate the delicate taste of the seafood. The rest of the plate is carefully prepared and decorated with vegetables carved to look like flowers. For chefs that like to showcase their craftsmanship, there is no better dish to prepare than sashimi.
Sashimi is most commonly served in Japanese restaurants as well as Izakayas and Japanese pubs. Some restaurants will feature a large tank from viewable to customers in which the fish is caught directly before being prepared. Restaurants will get their seafood from supermarkets, as well as fish markets. Today, there are over 4000 sushi restaurants across the United States and thousands more worldwide. Sashimi can be enjoyed worldwide.