7 Cool Ways to Enjoy Sashimi in Japan!

7 Cool Ways to Enjoy Sashimi in Japan!

(flickr By sigusr0)

These days, fewer and fewer people outside Japan are balking at the idea of eating raw fish, as sushi and sashimi restaurants have gradually proliferated in most major cosmopolitan centres. Once a fashionably ‘cool’ choice for diners seeking something different, sashimi has since established itself firmly on the global menu. It used to surprise me how deftly many of my foreign visitors handled their chopsticks, whereas I still feel clumsy when I have to use western cutlery. Nor do I need to instruct my guests on how to eat sashimi anymore; most already know to pour just enough soy into their dish, to add a dab of wasabi on the side, and use this to delicately dip each piece of sashimi they eat. But just how well does this overseas ‘training’ in Japanese cuisine etiquette prepare the intrepid traveller for some of the more exotic kinds of sashimi they might encounter in Japan? Let me suggest a few really ‘different’ kinds of sashimi to try when you’re here, and which will definitely add to your ‘cool’ when you tell people back home!



 

7 Cool Ways to Enjoy Sashimi in Japan!

 

1. Uni (raw sea urchin)

7 Cool Ways to Enjoy Sashimi in Japan!uni

(flickr By Yutaka Tsutano)

Actually, uni is widely available at sashimi restaurants abroad, though I get the impression it is generally ordered as a dare, when people are drunk enough to take it. I’m never sure just how much Japanese people like uni, though my late father loved it. Be that as it may, it remains a standard item on sashimi menus, so please try it.

 

2. Sea Cucumber (namako)

7 Cool Ways to Enjoy Sashimi in Japan!Sea_Cucumber

(flickr By shrk)

The sea cucumber is considered a great delicacy in many parts of SE Asia; some attribute it with benefits to male sexual potency! In Japan, sea cucumber is often eaten raw or soused in vinegar. It is also preserved as a type of ‘shiokara’ when it is finely sliced, mixed with its own viscera, salted and fermented for several weeks.

 

3. Chicken (torisashi)

7 Cool Ways to Enjoy Sashimi in Japan!chicken

(flickr By ROVER_JP)

A few years ago, some acquaintances from Tokyo University invited me for a meal at a torisashi restaurant. Like many Japanese people, I’d been unaware until then that chicken was served raw. Actually, it was very much like tuna, though without the fishy flavour. I haven’t eaten it since, but I wouldn’t avoid it either. I’m told it’s quite popular in Okayama in the Chugoku region.

 

4. Horse (basashi)

7 Cool Ways to Enjoy Sashimi in Japan!basashi

(flickr By George Alexander Ishida N)

If you find yourself in Kumamoto, city and prefecture, you should seek out a basashi restaurant. The meat is soft and a delicate pinkish colour and is typically served with grated ginger. European visitors were horrified that we had even considered eating horse meat, until they discovered for themselves how delicious it is!

 

5. Beef (gyusashi)

7 Cool Ways to Enjoy Sashimi in Japan!beef

(flickr By karinckarinc)

My late father hailed from Sendai in the Tohoku region, a beautiful city with much to offer visitors. Gyusashi is something of a delicacy up there, using wafer thin slices of delicately marbled Wagyu beef with a heavenly melt-in-the-mouth texture. It is often served with ponzu, a seasoned soy sauce, and shiso leaves.

 

6. Deer (shikasashi)

7 Cool Ways to Enjoy Sashimi in Japan!deer

(flickr By JaggyBoss)

The over-population of shika deer in Japan has led to its meat being increasingly used for food, especially in Hokkaido where shika numbers has caused serious problems for foresters and farmers. The raw meat is a bright red colour with a slightly chewy texture. When I tried it, it was served with garlic, ground ginger and soy, though I think it would go well with the sashimi standard dip of soy and wasabi. However, shikasashi isn’t widely available in Japan, but can be found in parts of mountain villages.

 

7. Sea Turtle (kamesashi)

I’ll end my list with another marine sashimi, but one that you’ll probably only get to savour after a journey befitting the most intrepid traveller. The sub-tropical Ogasawara Islands lie 1000km south of Japan, way out in the Pacific Ocean. There’s no airport there, so you’ll need to take a 25 hour ferry journey from Takeshiba pier in Tokyo. The ferries have hotel-like cabins for comfort, deck snack bars, and a restaurant serving Ogasawara dishes. As for sea turtle sashimi, I haven’t tried it myself, but if you make the trip, bear in mind it’s strictly licensed and only available in season for a few months, beginning in April. Restaurants will serve the red meat until they run out of it.

 

Conclusion

Japan is still something of an exotic holiday destination, being so far away and such a different culture. For foodies and travel bloggers, Japan offers a myriad of taste sensations, as well as a few challenges, and the more open one is to these experiences, the more enjoyable and memorable will be your visit. Your friends and family back home will be amazed as you regale them with tales your gastronomic adventures and the photographs you’ve taken. How cool is that!

 

7 Cool Ways to Enjoy Sashimi in Japan!

1. Uni (raw sea urchin)
2. Sea Cucumber (namako)
3. Chicken (torisashi)
4. Horse (basashi)
5. Beef (gyusashi)
6. Deer (shikasashi)
7. Sea Turtle (kamesashi)