One of the most distinctive Japanese dishes is sashimi. Sashimi is raw food – sliced and served. It can be beef, fish, scallops or chicken. The most popular tends to be seafood. It is fast becoming one of our favourites.
What makes good sashimi?
Good sashimi is fresh. But that’s not all. Fish flavour and texture changes over time, and some fish improves with age. Adam Liaw (chef and writer, goodfood.com.au) suggests that seafood like small fish, prawns and squid are best eaten very fresh but larger fish eg flounder and snapper, benefit from being “rested”. This allows their muscles to relax and the flavour to improve.Very large fish may be aged for one to two weeks, but this should be determined by a fishmonger/sashimi expert.
Preparation of sashimi involves cutting. There are a range of ways of cutting sashimi but here are just a few.
- hira-zukuri – rectangular slice is used for tuna, salmon and kingfish
- usu-zukuri – is an angeled thin slice used for firm, white fish with thin fillets eg bream, flounder and whiting
- kaku-zukuri – is a square slice creating small cubes of thick, soft fish like tuna
- ito-zukuri – is a thread slice, with thin slivers of narrow fish and seafood like garfish and squid
Sashimi is eaten with chopsticks. a fork or your hands. Garnishes are kept simple and include soy sauce and wasabi. Japanese etiquette suggests not pouring a dishful of soy sauce for dipping as this is considered wasteful. Instead use a small amount of the sauce and replenish if desired. Many suggest dabbing wasabi on the sushi rather than mixing into the soy sauce.
Sashimi is usually served in small pieces and as such is eaten in one mouthful. Eating the sashimi provides a number of experiences. Some slices may melt in your mouth. Others are more substantial and require chewing. This is all part of the sashimi experience so you are encouraged to chew carefully to savour both flavour and texture.