What is Sashimi? What is the variation and how to eat?
Otsukuri (Sliced raw fish)
Sashimi (Sliced raw fish)
“Sashimi” and “Otsukuri,” it seems that even Japanese people don’t know the difference clearly. Some people may have a vague sense of saying that sashimi is common and Otsukuri is upper standard. Originally, it used to be the same dish, which served sliced fish, and it was called Kirimi, not “sashimi” or “Otsukuri.” In Kansai, especially in Kyoto, the word “Sasu(stab)” was thought as a bad luck, so it was called “Tsukurimi,” then it changed to “Tsukuri” then to “Otsukuri.” Generally speaking, the roots of the name of "Otsukuri" was Ikizukuri, which is the name of cooking methods to cook fresh fish alive. However, the word “sashimi” is not limited to use for seafood these days. It is used for sliced food in general and is not a regional difference like Kanto = “sashimi,” Kansai = “Otsukuri.” The word "sashimi" is used as the name of fresh slices including the processed product such as meat and konnyaku, and the word "Otsukuri" tends to use for the seafood, which is decorated with fish head and tail or served on a decoration boat. This time, we will introduce the standard fresh fish sashimi.
How to eat Sashimi
To enjoy otsukuri that is beautifully prepared with colorful seafood such as squid, octopus, prawn, shellfish, red fish, white fish, there is an order we'd better follow. If several kinds of seafood and fish are served, we recommend you to start with white fish, and then eat red fish after that.
There is no definite rule in the way of eating. But to enhance and enjoy its deliciousness, how to use wasabi is also an important point.
1. Do not mix wasabi in soy sauce
2. Take a moderate amount of wasabi with chopsticks, put it on top of sliced fish, and dip in soy sauce to eat.
3. To enjoy the aroma of wasabi, soy sauce should only be applied to the underside when wasabi is placed on top.
Also, it is ok to leave the tail of a prawn. Eat only the body part and keep tails at the edge of the plate.
The most important thing is to enjoy the seasonal ingredients and the atmosphere of the place.
Types of Sashimi
There are roughly divided into 2 types; “light flavor” and “rich flavor.” White fish such as sea-bream and flounder, and shellfish like squid and scallop are categorized light flavor types. Some white fish like salmon, which is quite fatty is rich flavor types. Also, some red fish like yellowtail, young yellowtail, amberjack are light flavor types. Tuna, fatty tuna, bonito, mackerel, sardine, and saury (can be called as blueback) are rich flavor types. Besides, shellfish, fish eggs, sea urchin are also characterized as a rich flavor, and you can enjoy its richness.
Let us introduce the types by using tuna sashimi, which has most varieties. There are usually several kinds of names in tuna sashimi, and the features and cooking methods vary depending on parts.
●Akami (lean part) / the part surrounding the spine. It usually refers to Akami if written as tuna. It is a part with relatively low-fat.
●Chu-Toro (medium fatty tuna) / the fatty part is Toro. Toro is generally belly part.
●O-Toro (super fatty tuna) / O-toro has plenty of fat, and least amount is taken. Belly side of middle to the upper part of Tuna.
●Negi-Toro / It is made by scraping off flesh from the fish skin and bones with a spoon. However, it is mainly made by using inexpensive tuna such as yellowfin tuna and albacore tuna, and adding food additives nowadays.
●Nakaochi / Nakaochi means lean meat between the backbone (middle bone) that comes out when filleting tuna. Spoon or clamshell are usually used as a tool to shave.
There are different names depending on the parts even from the same fish, such as O-Toro, Chu-toro, Akami, and so on, and even the same fish changes their names when growth. Especially, Buri (yellowtail) is one of them and its name changes in its growth process. It changes the name several times till grown up to Buri like Wakashi→Inada→Warasa→Buri in Kanto region, and Wakana→Tsubasu→Hamachi→Mejiro→Buri in Kansai region.
1.Popular types of Sashimi
The most standard one is “Tuna.” Tuna itself, of course, is a basic sushi ingredient. “Salmon” is also very popular same as tuna. The beauty of shades called salmon pink, and the moderate fat is the reason to be popular.
We will introduce some of the other popular types of sashimi.
As well as sashimi, “Bonito” is often eaten by a cooking method called “Tataki,” which seared only outside. Bonito that is heading north in the sea near Japan around April to June is called “Hatsugatsuo,” and has light taste. Bonito that is heading south in the sea near Japan around September called “Modorigatsuo,” and has rich flavor. The Pacific side like Kochi prefecture, there are some locations famous for bonito catch.
●AJI (Horse Mackerel)
It is caught in various parts of the world, and it has good taste combines both red and white fish.
●TAI (Sea bream)
Because "TAI," Sea Bream has the same sound of "mede-tai" meaning happy in Japanese, it is often served at celebrations or happy events. The taste is light, but has subtle flavor and sweetness too.
●SANMA (Pacific saury)
It is known as a representative fish of the taste of autumn in Japan. When eating as sashimi, in most cases, it is served along with ginger in order to break the smell of fish.
●SUZUKI (Sea Bass)
It is a white fish with little the dark red meat. There is a theory that its Japanese name “Suzuki” is derived from a “clear and flesh like rinsed.” It is said that its quality is improved in summer as gaining and putting on fat. Also it is said that this fish has no part to waste. Entire body can be used for various dishes.
It is a firm-textured and fatty fish. Natural products are distributed as luxury ingredients, but farm-raised ones are widely available in Japan, and can be enjoyed at reasonable price.
It is a fish that consumes a lot in the world as same as tuna and horse mackerel. Grilled, simmered and sushi are popular ways to eat, shimesaba that marinated with salt and vinegar is also popular as sashimi.
2. Shellfish and mollusks Sashimi
It is said that “Squid” has 450 types in the world, and 150 types in Japan, and Japan takes 60% of its consumption of the world. Summer is the season of the most expensive Aori-Ika. Yari-Ika was named after its looks resembles a spear(Yari). It is currently available throughout the year, but the most delicious season is spring. It has a unique sweetness and texture, so sushi and sashimi are recommended.
“TAKO (Octopus)” has a refreshing flavor and crispy texture and is popular along with squid. It can be boiled or used for Takoyaki. It is also popular as sashimi.
Here are some shellfish with a unique texture. “AKAGAI (Ark shell)” is an edible shellfish mainly used for sushi and sashimi, and it is said to appear in the oldest history book “Kojiki” in Japan. It has a crisp texture, and is popular for shellfish lovers. “MIRUGAI (Giant clam)” is a large bivalve with the length of about 15cm. In recent years, it has become a rare shellfish, which catches only a small amount in the Seto Inland Sea by decreasing the catch.
For scallop, by boiling, firm texture can be added, flavor will be condensed as moderate amount of moisture out, and fish smell can be reduced. “AWABI (Abalone)” is a shellfish known as a luxury ingredient, characterized by crisp firm texture. Its liver is also popular as a delicacy in some regions. Dishes using dried abalone are also famous overseas. It is familiar in domestic and overseas.
3. Fish eggs and others
In recent years, the number of people who enjoy sashimi and sushi around the world have increased with the spread of Japanese food trend. However, eating raw fish and fish eggs was originally rare in the world, and it was a food culture unique to Japan. Meanwhile, the reason why eating raw fish did not spread overseas until recent years is because raw fish and eggs are likely to have bacteria and parasites, and it was considered “raw= danger” from the risk of food poisoning by it, so it was common to heat.
“Squid” is popular among Japanese, but surprisingly it is unpopular for overseas people. Many people can eat it baked but can’t eat it raw. Also, it seems that “IKURA (Cod Roe)” is controversial as there is many likes and dislikes, as no custom to eat raw fish eggs in overseas. “UNI (Sea Urchin)" is relatively popular, and many said that sweet-prawns and scallops are also sweet and delicious. Eat various kinds of sashimi and compare then, then find your favorite ones.
Sashimi and Sushi! What is the difference between them?
Speaking of Japanese food that use fish, sushi is one of representatives, but sashimi doesn’t serve along with formed rice like sushi. A brief difference between them is that “sushi” is a combination with shari (formed sushi rice) and (raw) fish, and “sashimi” is raw fish itself and eat a part of sushi ingredient (sliced seafood). "Sushi" is that to eat raw seafood or fermented fish along with sushi rice, and "sashimi" is to eat fresh raw seafood with soy sauce, vinegared miso, and the seasoning like wasabi or ginger. Thinly sliced raw ingredients such as konnyaku, beef, or horse meat that eat along with soy sauce are also called “sashimi” as well as fish and shellfish.
There are a variety of sushi. It is popular in various forms such as Maki-zushi, Nori-maki (roll with seaweed), Gunkan-maki, Chirashi-zushi, and Oshi-zushi.
Temaki-zushi (Hand rolled)
Calories for each fish of Sashimi
We like to enjoy sashimi heartily, but we also concern about their calories. This list may give you a surprise as fish that you eat on a daily basis can be high calories than you thought. Let's check the list if their look and taste are proportional. These are the calories per 100g on each item. ※ Low-calorie TOP 10 (researched by editorial department)
1st - Octopus 76kcal
Japan is the world's largest consumer of octopus. Nearly half of total consumption is consumed in Japan
2nd – Deep-water Shrimp 87kcal
Deep-water Shrimp is one of super low-calorie ingredients. It contains plenty of amino acids, which are the main source of collagen.
3rd – Squid 88kcal
It is recommended not to cook with oil but to eat as sashimi since squid contains lots of cholesterol.
4th - Scallop 98kcal
It is healthy as low-fat and contains plenty of protein, vitamins, and mineral.
5th - Sea urchin 120kcal
It contains a lot of “folic acid.”
6th - Flounder (edge of flounder)
It contains plenty of collagen. It is good for skin and makes blood vessels strong.
7th - Tuna (lean part) 125kcal
Calories are different depending on parts. The lean part contains high-protein and is low-fat.
8th - Amberjack 129kcal
The content of potassium is the top level among fish.
9th - Salmon 139kcal
It contains “omega-3 fatty acid.”
10th Sea bream 194kcal
The best season to eat sea bream is from March to April. It has an image of light taste, but the calorie is actually high.
You may find the fact that popular kinds have more calories. It is recommended to taste seasonal ingredients in their best season.
Safety of Sashimi
It was common to eat freshly caught fish raw in Japan where surrounded by the sea and able to eat fresh seafood. In order to enjoy sashimi, it is essential to prepare fresh and tasty seasonal ingredients first. Because it is not heated up, freshness is very important from the viewpoint of food hygiene. In Japan's ordinary distribution channel, various measures are taken to prevent food poisoning. When fish that may have poison arrives, it is discarded within the market.
In Japan, there has been raw diet culture including sashimi, thus, each field such as fishery, transportation, store sales, is making effort to keep and maintain freshness consistently. However, not only fields listed above but also a treatment at fishery, thermal management through the process of commodity circulation, freshness management system at vendors, and hygiene control of cooking tools are important to thorough manage with an assumption of raw diet.
Popular restaurants recommended by JOURNEY of JAPAN
■Zauo Shinjuku Branch
It is located in 10 minutes by foot from the Shinjuku Station West Exit. This is Izakaya where you can actually fish. Their unique system that a fishing rod can be borrowed at 105 yen and the meal cost might be cheaper if you catch fish by yourself is very popular.
“Zauo Shinjuku Branch”
●Weekday lunch 11:30-14:30 (L.O.14:00), Weekday dinner 17:00-23:00 (L.O.22:00), Weekends and holidays lunch11:30-14:30 (L.O.14:30). Weekends and holidays dinner 16:00-23:00 (L.O.22:00)
●Non-fixed holidays, and closed on the year-end and new year holidays
■Itamae-Sushi Edo Branch
Tuna arrives daily from “Tsukiji Yamako,” which is the best tuna wholesaler where a chef who won a star in Michelin purchases. You can enjoy the best tuna selected by the most knowledge tuna professionals at reasonable prices.
There are many foreign customers. Eye-catching unique entrance.
Interior represents “Edo period,” the origin of Sushi.
Gorgeous “Kobo-rainbow Sushi" with a variety of ingredients
“Itamae-Sushi, Edo Branch”
●Daily 11:30-15:00 (L.O.14:30), 17:00-23:00 (Food L.O.22:00, Drink L.O.22:30)
●No scheduled holidays
Summary of Sashimi
Japanese people are familiar with sashimi since childhood, but it seems many people dislike fishy smell and texture in some other countries. For that case, “Tsuma (garnish)” and “Yakumi (Condiment)” that are served with sashimi are useful. Seaweed and vegetables such as radish and perilla are called Tsuma. There are many variations of seasonal vegetables and wild grasses, and it is common to be cut beautifully and served, and eat along with sashimi. Among them, the one that gives a special flavor to sashimi is called “Yakumi.” Typical ones are world famous wasabi, ginger, plum, mustard and so on.
Tsuma, perilla and wasabi are perfectly arranged aside beautifully decorated Otsukuri or sashimi. It can be said that sashimi in Japanese food culture represents not only pursuit of taste but also the artistic food culture distinctive of Japan with new value-added as "things to enjoy with your eyes."
*The above information was last updated June 5, 2018. For further information, please contact the facilities directly.
"Like" if you think this article is interesting