- What is sashimi?
- What is the difference between sashimi and sushi?
- Types of sashimi
- How to cut sashimi
- How to make sashimi
- How to eat sashimi
- How many calories in sashimi?
- Which is the price of sashimi?
- Is it safe to eat sashimi?
- Sashimi restaurants
- What is the origin of sashimi?
- Why is sashimi popular?
- Trivia about sashimi
What is sashimi?
Originally the name of “sashimi” means “pierced boy” and it refers to the slicing technique used to cut raw fish and meat. Therefore, it will be accurate to define sashimi as the Japanese art of serving raw food. Nowadays, sashimi is a traditional Japanese dish consisting on fresh raw fish, meat or seafood. Even though sashimi seafood is commonly served without any kind of cutting, the slicing method plays an important role when it comes to meat and fish.
The most popular type of sashimi is fish. It is usually served on a bed of shredded daikon (white raddish) and decorated with fish head and tail. It is also common to use dishes shaped as a boat to serve this kind of sashimi. Soy sauce and wasabi are side ingredients used for sashimi degustation.
What is the difference between sashimi and sushi?
Well in order to solve this common misunderstanding on sushi vs sashimi, we have to check the main definition of each term.
Basically, sashimi represents any meat, fish or seafood served raw. When you talk about sashimi in Japan, they will image just sliced raw fish or meat. On the other side, sushi is a meal that includes a base of vinegared rice and an extra ingredient as topping. This topping MIGHT be some raw fish, meat or seafood (therefore sashimi) or any other no raw ingredient.
One of the reasons of the popularity of sushi was that, somehow, it was related to raw fish. This is an exotic fact in foreign countries, therefore, sushi was quickly associated with eating raw fish. As a result, when the real raw fish (sashimi) started gaining popularity, people got confused.
In conclusion, sashimi refers to raw fish, meat and seafood while sushi is vinegared rice topped with different ingredients that might or not be sashimi.
Types of sashimi
There are different ways of classifying sashimi. One classification is based on sashimi made with fishes from the tuna family. Tuna is extremely popular for sashimi and it can be categorized depending on the amount of fat that contains. Also, sashimi can be divided into groups depending on the animal it comes from. In this article we will talk about both classifications.
Sashimi according to the amount of fat
Akami ( low fat content )
Akami means “red body” and refers to the lean part of the tuna. It is the most common type of tuna meat and its very low in fat
Chu-Toro ( moderate fat content )
Toro is another name for tuna meat. Chu-toro means “middle toro” which refers to the belly of the tuna. It contains a moderate amount of fat.
O-Toro ( high fat content )
O-toro means “great toro” or “big toro” and refers to the area of the upper belly close to the head of the tuna. O-toro meat has deep white lines of fat.
Sashimi according to animal of origin
Maguro ( Tuna )
Maguro is the most commonly used fish in Japanese cuisine. Moreover is a very popular type of sashimi. As we saw in the previous section, it can be divided into subtypes depending on the fat content.
Sake ( Salmon )
Salmon was one of the last types of fish eaten raw in Japan because of the fear to parasites worms. Nowadays is perfectly safe and for many is considered the tastiest fish to eat raw.
Tai ( Sea Bream )
Tai fish is also popular for its raw taste. Moreover it contains low percentage of fat and is rich on vitamin B1
Saba ( Mackerel )
Saba is commonly served in Okayama prefecture during autumn festivals. It is an oily fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids
Katsuo ( Bonito or Skipjack Tuna )
Katsuo is a fish from the tuna family. It is so popular for Japanese cuisine that the first catched fish in the late spring reaches ridiculous price.
Kanpachi ( Greater Yellowtail / Amberjack )
Kampachi is a fish farm-raised in the open ocean. Its flesh is thick and dense like tuna.
Uni ( Sea Urchin )
Uni is the japanese name given to the gonads of sea urchin. Even many people state that is not appealing the eyes, it has a delicious taste.
Aji ( Horse Mackerel )
Aji has a delicate and sweet flavor. It is commonly confused with saba because both belong to the mackerel type fishes.
Sanma ( Pacific saury )
Sanma is considered a quite affordable fish. It is rich in healthy oils and quite popular during autumn in Japan.
Engawa ( Halibut )
Engawa is a white-fleshed fish, actually, the largest of the flatfish family. As saba, it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids which helps reducing cardiovascular conditions.
Suzuki ( Sea Bass )
There are actually two fishes called suzuki, one from Japan and another from China. However only the Japanese one is used for sashimi because of its clean white flesh.
Ahi ( Yellowfin & Bigeye Tuna )
Ahi is a type of tuna from Hawai. This fish is rich in proteins, and vitamins B6 and B12.
Ikura ( Salmon Roe )
Ikura is the name given to the eggs of salmon in Japan. Is ona of the main ingredients of caviar and delicious as sashimi.
Mollusc and Shells sashimi
Ika ( Squid )
After tuna, ika’s translucent, creamy and soft flesh is one of the most common types of seafood used for sashimi.
Tako ( Octopus )
Tako is used on many Japanese dishes (being the takoyaki the most popular). Although is uncommon to see tako not cook, there are several places in Japan in which they served it raw.
Ebi ( Shrimp )
Ebi refers to different seafood within the family of shrimps. While amaebi (sweet shrimp) and botan ebi (wild shrimps) are cheaper, kuruma ebi (tiger prawn) and aka ebi (red shrimp) are more expensive and therefore considered a delicacy.
Hotate ( Scallop )
Hotate is considered as the stake of seafood. With his sweet taste and a soft texture, people have the describe it as eating meat.
Hokkigai ( Surf Clam )
This clams are extremely low fat and rich in proteins. They are usually consumed during spring and summer months
Akagai ( Ark shell )
Akagai have a mild and subtle taste and they are available during all spring months.
Tsubugai ( Whelk )
Tsubukai has a crunchy texture and sweet refresing taste. Is usually served with ponzu (citrus-based sauce) instead of soy sauce.
Mirugai ( Geoduck Clam )
Mirugai also have a sweet and delicate flavor with hints of seaweed and a crunchy texture. This seasonal clam can be found from October to February
Gyusashi ( Beef )
Gyusashi is a red meat that is usually served with ponzu (citrus-based sauce) instead of say sauce. The thin traces of fat give this meat a delicious taste.
Torisashi ( Chicken )
Torisashi is the most popular raw meat at izakaya restaurants in Japan. Not only because of his cheap price but also because it combines perfectly with many condiments and with beer.
Bashimi ( Horse )
Bashimi meat stands out because of his slightly pink color. It is usually served with sweet soy sauce
Shikasashi ( Deer )
Shikasashi is usually confused with maguro (tuna) sashimi because of its red intense color. However deer meat taste sweet but intense.
Kamesashi ( Turtle )
Kamesashi is quite rare meat. It can be found only on Ogasawara Islands for a few month after april each year. Kamesashi has incredible beefy flavor with an unique texture.
Buta sashimi (Pork)
Buta sashimi was served in Japan until 2015 were the Japanese government banned this type to meat to avoid health related issues.
How to cut sashimi
When it comes to prepare the best sashimi, everything counts. Given the fact that sashimi is served completely raw, the way to improve your dish relies on 3 factors. The quality of your fish, the decorations you use and of curse the THE SLICING.
Cutting sashimi, if we get into details, is quite a wide topic. There are many ingredients we can used as sashimi and depending on their properties and their tastes, the way of cutting changes. For that reason, in the current section, we are going to focus on the simplest cutting technique. This is quite used for tuna and salmon, two easy to buy and delicious fishes to eat as sashimi
In the following video you can see how to cut sashimi so you can impress your friends with this exquisite dish.
How to make sashimi
In the previous section we show you how to cut sashimi. However the selection of ingredients to garnish the dish and its preparation is also an important factor. In the following video you can see the sashimi recipe step-by-step!
How to eat sashimi
The protocol to eat sashimi is quite similar to the one followed with sushi (you can check our article how to eat sushi!). In this section we are going to explain the official way of doing it. In addition, we are going to be a bit naughty and we will explain also a way that is quite infamous for sashimi eaters.
Official way of eating sashimi
Apart from the garnishing vegetables like daikon, sashimi comes with three side ingredients. They are soy sauce, wasabi and ginger. Once we have everything ready, let’s start with the proocol!
First, put some soy sauce in a side dish.
Second, grab with your chopsticks a bit of wasabi and putted over your targeted sashimi.
Third, using the chopstick, take the slice of sashimi and dip the side without wasabi.
Fouth, eat it and enjoy its taste!
Fifth, if you like to look fancy, eat a piece pickled ginger, and tell your friends that it is to refresh you mouth to properly enjoy the aroma of your following slice of sashimi ;).
Our infamous recommendation to eat sashimi
Many people will tell you that you should never mix your wasabi in the soy sauce. We recommend you just the opposite! Try to do it, after preparing your soy sauce in a side dish, put some wasabi in and mix it good. After dipping your sashimi, the taste of wasabi will be much more distributed. If you are a wasabi lover like us, you will like it!
How many calories in sashimi?
There are so many kinds of sashimi that the range of calories differ widely depending on the type of fish, meat and seafood. In the following table we show the nutrition values ( calories, fat, carbohydrates and protein) of all types of sashimi introduced on this article (values per ounce = 28 gr).
|Fish||Cal||Fat (g)||Carb (g)||Prot (g)|
|Maguro ( Tuna )||40||1.4||0||6.6|
|Sake ( Salmon )||40||1.8||0||5.6|
|Tai ( Sea Bream)||22||0.4||0||5.8|
|Saba ( Mackarel )||58||3.9||0||5.3|
|Katsuo ( Bonito )||66||3||0||7|
|Kampachi ( Amberjack )||41||1.5||0||6.5|
|Uni ( Sea Urchin )||34||1.1||0||3.2|
|Aji ( Sea Mackerel )||29||1||0||4|
|Sanma ( Sea Bass )||86||6.8||0||5.8|
|Engawa ( Halibut )||38||1.7||0||5.4|
|Suzuki ( Sea Bass )||22||0.6||0||5.2|
|Ahi ( Yellowfin )||37||0||0||8.2|
|Ikura ( Salmon Roe )||19||0.9||0.2||3.1|
|Mollusc or Shell||Cal||Fat||Carb (g)||Prot (g)|
|Ika ( Squid )||26||0.4||0.9||4.4|
|Tako ( Octopus )||46||0.6||1.3||8.5|
|Ebi ( Shrimp )||30||0.5||0.2||5.8|
|Hotate ( Scallop )||26||0.2||0.7||5|
|Hokkigai ( Surf Clam )||42||0.6||1.5||7.2|
|Akagai ( Ark Shell )||14||0||0||0|
|Tsubugai ( Whelk )||38||0.1||0.2||6.7|
|Mirugai ( Geoduck )||8||0||0||0|
|Meat||Cal||Fat (g)||Carb (g)||Prot (g)|
|Gyusashi ( Beef )||64||3||0||7|
|Torisashi ( Chicken )||41||0||0||8|
|Bashimi ( Horse )||49||1||0||6|
|Shikasashi ( Deer )||34||0||0||6|
|Kamesashi ( Turtle )||25||0||0||5|
|Buta Sashimi ( Pork )||62||4||0||4|
Which is the price of sashimi?
Well, this is a quite difficult question. If you want to know the average price of common types of sashimi in Japan, on izakaya restaurants, it is possible to get a ration for 2 people from 800 yen to 1600 yen (~7.5 dollars to 15 dollars).
Nevertheless depending on the type of sashimi, the season and the country the prices will oscillate hugely.
Is it safe to eat sashimi?
As we saw previously in this article, sashimi is raw fish, meat or seafood. When dealing with this raw ingredients freshness is a relevant factor for safety. Being Japan an island, freshness of fish and seafood has never been a big problem. Moreover, nowadays, there are very strict protocols followed to keep raw, fish and meat clean and safe. Therefore, if you came to Japan and you want to enjoy sashimi, any restaurant, supermarket or grocery store will provide you completely safe products.
However, within the Japanese society, they recommend pregnant women to eat sashimi or any other food containing raw fish, meat or seafood. This is because of a bacteria called listeria which is potentially dangerous for the baby during pregnancy. This bacteria is not an issue for humans and if the fish follow all the conservation rules, should also not be dangerous for pregnant women. Anyway, given the fact that during pregnancy the inmune system of the woman gets weaker, it is better to avoid eating sashimi. But do not worry, you can eat sushi (check why in our sushi article!)
Taiko Chaya Sashimi Buffet
If you like sashimi and you don’t get full easily, this is your place. Taiko Chaya offers free buffet of sashimi for just 1200 yens (around 12 dollars). As it is expected with such a cheap price, to come to this restaurant you need to be ready for long queuing.
Zauo is a branch of restaurants scattered through all Japan. Tables in this restaurant are surrounded by canals of water with fish. For just 105 yens you can borrow a fishing rod and fish your own food. After catching your fish, you can decided if you want it as sashimi or fried. They were prepare it for you. All the food fished will be cheaper than the one directly ordered from the menu.
Sushi Zanmai is a popular sushi restaurant chain in Japan based in Tsukiji, the biggest fish market in Tokyo. His owner, Kiyoshi Kimura, has the world record buying the most expensive tuna fish in the history (3.1 million dollars). This branch has many restaurant and they open 24 hours.
What is the origin of sashimi?
The origin of sashimi is rather mysterious and there are many theories about it. First of all, given the fact that sashimi is served raw, there is not a lot of history about his origin as a dish. Some say that it comes from a dish called “namasu” from the Heian era that consisted on raw fish and vegetables. Others affirm that sashimi started at Kamakura era as a fast food for fishermen.
However, the main mystery behind this dish is the origin of its name. The kanjis (chinese characters) used to write sashimi mean pierced (sashi) and body (mi). This name may derived from the practice of sticking the tail of the fish before slicing it. Another theory is that it might comes from the tradition of piercing the brain of the fish right after catching it. This produces instant death on the fish stopping the creation of lactic acid produced by stress.
One way or the other, nowadays is one of the most representatives dishes from Japanese cuisine and fresh raw fish can be enjoyed at home and in restaurants.
Why is sashimi popular?
Japan is an island, for that reason, from ancient times fish has been an important source of food. Eating fresh fish raw was just a convenient and fast way to consume it. However nowadays it is possible to taste also raw meat in Japan, which means that there are other reasons for the popularity of sashimi. In the following lines we will mention the most relevant ones.
The raw texture of sashimi combined with the proper condiments makes it a delicious dish. The taste transports you directly to the land of the rising sun.
Most of sashimi ingredients contain a low percentage of fat and many nutrients and vitamins. Combined with vegetables makes a great sashimi salad. A diet based on this salad complemented with rice or pasta provides you everything you need for a healthy life.
It has variety
If you are a sashimi lover, you can try many different types of sashimi. You will never get tired of its taste because you will be able to choose among a huge variety
The vivid colors of sashimi in contrast with the beautiful vegetable decorations used traditionally on this dishes is very attractive both for Japanese and foreigners.
Trivia about sashimi
Most expensive bluefin tuna
Toyosu fish market is the most famous fish market in Japan. It is located in the city of Tokyo and it is famous for his fish auctions. During the first week of each month they celebrate auctions in which buyers can complete to get the best tuna.
Every year on january the best tuna captured at the beginning on the year reach incredible prices. The owner of Sushizanmai restaurant (a popular chain across Japan), Kiyoshi Kimura, has been beating records regarding the price paid for this tuna. At the beginning of 2019, this tuna lover paid 3.1 million dollars for a bluefin tuna of 278 kilograms. This beated his own previous record in 2013, when he spent 1.7 millon dollars on a similar fish.
Viral frog sashimi
In Asadachi, Tokyo, there is a restaurant known for serving very unusual dishes. In 2012, a woman recorded herself in this place after ordering a dish containing a frog alive. She ate the amphibian alive and posted the video on the internet. The scene was very splicit and the video became viral.
Fugu is the Japanese name for blowfish. This is a very interesting ingredient for sashimi. Fugu contains a strong neurotoxin capable of killing a human. Chefs in charge of preparing sashimi using this fish require a special licence. Even though, it is perfectly safe to eat it nowadays. Fugu is served with ponzu sauce and tastes wonderful.