Day 6: Sashimi
Sashimi is one of the most unique foods in Japan – a dish that is iconic and associated with Japanese cuisine the world over. There aren’t many places that think eating raw fish is a good idea… but it is!
Although Westerners sometimes confuse the term with other types of Japanese food like sushi, sashimi is simply the slices of raw seafood that are served on their own (although often accompanied with rice and miso soup).
There are many types although some of the most popular include salmon, tuna, squid and octopus.
It’s considered to be one of the finest dishes in Japanese cuisine and is usually eaten at the start of a meal before flavours from other food ruin the palate. For a sashimi expert, the subtle differences in the flavours of the various seafood used is supposed to be enjoyed and savoured.
Like a lot in Japanese culture, it’s all about the nuance.
For people who aren’t accustomed to Japanese food, it can seem a bit strange at first – I mean, you’re supposed to cook meat, right? But there’s something quite special about the chewy slimy texture and the freshness of good sashimi.
It’s not particularly filling and, although it can be eaten as a main dish, it’s usually a starter or part of a share set.
It’s normally eaten with a small bowl of soy sauce that many people mix wasabi paste into. Some purists think the wasabi ruins the taste of the sashimi but traditionally it was used to get rid of bacteria that might be on the meat. Personally, I like to load up the soy with enough wasabi to feel the heat come out my nose!
Because of the quality of the dish, it’s not one of the cheapest things you can eat in Japan. This plate of sashimi had five varieties of seafood and 15 pieces in total. It cost 1500 yen (US$15.40) at a nice restaurant in the Nakano district of Tokyo and was some of the best I have ever eaten.