Sashimi is raw fish, or shellfish, usually served with wasabi and soya sauce. However, to fully enjoy the flavour, the wasabi should be placed on the fish and the fish dipped in the soya sauce (rather than being mixed into the soya sauce), as the flavour of the soya sauce overpowers the fragrance of the wasabi. Refraining from mixing the wasabi into the soya sauce also gives you the benefit of enjoying different flavoured seasonings for sashimi (see “Hints for the Sashimi Connoisseur” for further details).
Did you know?
Fugu sashimi (puffer fish) requires around 80 litres of water for its safe preparation. The preparation can only be carried out by a licensed chef due to deadly poison being present in its eyes, brain, blood and liver. It needs to be cleaned thoroughly in order to ensure that all of the potentially harmful poison is removed.
Sashimi is cut in different styles to alter its appearance and the sensation on the tongue of the diner. Japanese knives are single-edge blades and are kept very sharp (often sharpened on a daily basis if used regularly) which ensures a very smooth cut, the result of which is the shiny appearance of the freshly cut fish.
There are countless ways to cut sashimi, from slicing it so thinly that you can see the pattern of the plate underneath the fish, to thick, succulent chunks of fish. The trained sushi chef will even judge how to cut the fish by its appearance in order to obtain the best flavour and to avoid wasting any part of the fish. For example, he will cut across the grain of the flesh of Sea Bass and Sea Bream to ensure a melt-in-the-mouth texture, but cut along the grain around the stomach area for Sea Bream and Salmon as this is the softest piece of the flesh.
The Japanese pride themselves on using the whole of the fish and not wasting any part. There is even a dish called, “Tai Tomoae” where the Sea Bream (tai) is coated with its own dry-fried roe seasoned with salt. This method of cooking enhances the flavour of the sea bream. In a similar fashion, the dish “Awabi Joyu” uses the liver of the Abalone (awabi) as a seasoning. This increases the flavour of the abalone itself.
Hints for the Sashimi Connoisseur
Your sashimi will often arrive with only wasabi as a seasoning. However, you can enjoy different flavours in the fish by ordering your sashimi with different seasonings. Please note that if there are toppings placed on the slices of Sashimi then you should try your fish with those toppings and not with soya sauce. Here are some recommendations from Matsuri for you to try:
- Momijioroshi – a mixture of daikon (Japanese radish) and chilli.
- Spring onions and ginger with oily fish such as mackerel, horse mackerel and sardines.
- Soya sauce mixed with ume (Japanese plum), lemon or yuzu (a Japanese citrus fruit).
- Lemon and salt for turbot.
- Freshly ground garlic and soya sauce for bonito.
- Thinly sliced oba (Japanese basil) and soya sauce for white fish.
There are many vegetables and seaweeds which are used in their raw state as a garnish for sashimi. They are not only selected for their colour and visual presentation, but also for their nutritional properties as below:
Daikon (Japanese radish) can be used as a garnish for any type of fish and aids digestion.
Carrot is a garnish used with oily fish as the oil in the fish helps the body to convert the carotene into Vitamin A.
Japanese kabocha pumpkin is also used with oily fish as it contains carotene (but not to the same extent as carrots). A kabocha garnish is generally only used at specialist sushi restaurants.
Various forms of seaweed are also used as a garnish, from wakame seaweed (a dark green edible kelp usually used in soups and salads), to tosaka-nori (a white, pink or green edible algae often used in salads). These are eaten for their fibrous content.