Sashimi

Sashimi (Japanese: 刺身, pronounced [saɕimiꜜ]; English: /səˈʃiːmiː/) is a Japanese delicacy. It consists of very fresh raw meat, most commonly fish, sliced into thin pieces.

Origin

The word sashimi means "pierced body", i.e. "刺身 = sashimi = 刺し = sashi (pierced, stuck) and 身 = mi (body, meat). This word dates from the Muromachi period, and was possibly coined when the word "切る = kiru (cut), the culinary step, was considered too inauspicious to be used by anyone other than Samurai. This word may derive from the culinary practice of sticking the fish's tail and fin to the slices in identifying the fish being eaten.

Another possibility for the name could come from the traditional method of harvesting. 'Sashimi Grade' fish is caught by individual handline. As soon as the fish is landed, its brain is pierced with a sharp spike; and it is placed in slurried ice. This spiking is called the Ike jime process. The flesh contains minimal lactic acid because it died instantly so it will keep fresh on ice for about ten days, without turning white or otherwise degrading.[citation needed]

The word sashimi has been integrated into the English language and is often used to refer to other uncooked fish preparations. Many non-Japanese use the terms sashimi and sushi interchangeably, but the two dishes are actually distinct and separate. Sushi refers to any dish made with vinegared rice; and, while raw fish is one traditional sushi ingredient, many sushi dishes contain seafood that has been cooked, and others have no seafood at all.

Serving

Sashimi often is the first course in a formal Japanese meal, but it can also be the main course, presented with rice and miso soup in separate bowls. Many Japanese people believe that sashimi, traditionally considered the finest dish in Japanese cuisine, should be eaten before other strong flavors affect the palate[citation needed]. Culinarily, sashimi represents the Japanese cultural appreciation of subtlety. The finer sensation can vary from salmon (not traditionally Japanese)[1] to squid and everything in between.

The sliced seafood that composes the main ingredient is typically draped over a garnish. The typical garnish is Asian white radish, daikon, shredded into long thin strands, accompanied by one green perilla leaf per slice. Wasabi paste is sometimes mixed directly into soy sauce as a dipping sauce, which is generally not done when eating sushi, however. Purists denounce the practice of mixing wasabi into soy sauce, saying that this dilutes the sharp hot flavor of wasabi. Another way to flavor soy sauce with wasabi is to place the wasabi mound into the soy sauce dish and then pour it in. This allows the wasabi to infuse the soy sauce more subtly. A reputed motivation for serving wasabi with sashimi (and also gari, pickled ginger[citation needed]), besides its flavor, is killing harmful bacteria and parasites that could be present in raw seafood.[2]

Sashimi is normally served only with a dipping sauce (soy sauce with wasabi paste or such condiments as grated fresh ginger[citation needed], or, for meat sashime, ponzu), and such garnishes as shiso and shredded daikon radish. Dimensions vary but are typically about 2.5 cm (1") wide by 4 cm (1.5") long by 0.5 cm (0.2") thick.

Some sashimi ingredients, such as octopus, are sometimes served cooked given its chewy nature. Most seafood, such as tuna, salmon, and squid, are served raw.

Tataki (たたき or 叩き, "pounded") is a type of sashimi. It is quickly and lightly seared outside, leaving it raw inside.

Less common, but not unusual, sashimi ingredients are vegetarian items such as yuba (bean curd skin) and raw red meats, such as beef, known as gyuunotataki, and horse, known as basashi. Chicken "sashimi", known as toriwasa, is considered by some to be a delicacy; the Nagoya kōchin, French poulet de Bresse and its American derivative, the blue foot chicken, are favored by many for this purpose, as, besides their taste, they are certified to be free of Salmonella. Chicken sashimi is sometimes slightly braised on the outside.

Sashimi bocho Kitchen knife for sashimi

Basashi (馬刺し = 馬 ba = horse + 刺し sashi = pierced, stuck), or namasu, is raw horse meat, a traditional dish from Kumamoto, Matsumoto, and Tohoku region. It is often served sashimi-style, and can be found in restaurants in Osaka, Tokyo and other large cities in Japan.