Home Japan Travel GuideJapanese Sushi and Sashimi

Japanese Sushi and Sashimi

Sushi needs no introduction these days, as the world discovers the pleasure of eating morsels of fish, most of it uncooked.Sushi does not mean raw seafood; instead, it refers to the vinegar-flavored rice that can be paired with raw seafood.

Raw fish is just as likely to be eaten without the rice — as Sashimi. Apart from fish you can also enjoy raw beef, chicken or even horse served as Sashimi.

Highlights

  • Sushi has been famous since the Edo period (1603-1868).
  • Sashimi can refer to almost any kind of meat—including raw fish, beef, chicken, and even horse.
  • Tuna and salmon are two of the most popular fish varieties used in Sashimi, but there are numerous other kinds of meat and fish used beyond them.
  • There are many kinds of Sushi, but all contain vinegar flavored rice. Sushi rolls are often wrapped in dried sheets of seaweed, rice paper, or yuba.
  • Applying some basic Sushi etiquette and appreciating the chef’s creations is the proper way to show respect to generations of effort.

Sushi and Sashimi

Sashimi is thinly sliced raw meat—usually fish, such as salmon or tuna—that is served without rice. Sushi is not raw fish, but rather rice with vinegar that is mixed with other ingredients, which may or may not include raw fish.

In some countries, the terms "Sashimi" and "Sushi" may be used interchangeably, but this is incorrect usage. Raw fish is one of the traditional ingredients in Sushi but it may also be made without meat or with cooked seafood, as long as it uses rice with vinegar. Sashimi, on the other hand, always contains fresh raw meat or seafood.

Sushi

Sushi is the most famous Japanese dish outside of Japan, and one of the most popular dishes among the Japanese themselves. In Japan, Sushi is usually enjoyed on special occasions, such as a celebration. There are many kinds of Sushi. Sushi rolls are often wrapped in dried sheets of seaweed, rice paper, or yuba (soybean skin).

History

The history of Sushi began around the 8th century in Japan. The original type of Sushi was first developed in Southeast Asia as a means of preserving fish in fermented rice. In the Muromachi period, people began to eat the rice as well as the fish.

During the Edo period, vinegar rather than lacto-fermentation was used to sour the rice. In modern times, it is an early form of fast food strongly associated with Japanese culture.

Ingredients

There are many Sushi ingredients that you could have in your pantry at home. But you will not need all of them to get started making good Sushi.Some of the most essential ingredients are:Sushi rice (Sushi-Meshi), this has to be the most important ingredient for making Sushi. The rice is often the foundation.

The other important ingredients are:Rice vinegar, kombu (dried seaweed), wasabi, soya sauce, nori, and ginger. If you don’t like seafood or if you are a vegan, you can always replace the fish or any other meat with vegetables like cucumber and carrot.

The Skill of Making Sushi

An itamae is a multi-talented artist who oversees the complex operation of the Sushi bar. There is much more to the task than simply slapping fish on balls of rice! From knife mastery to having the confidence to know what your customers will enjoy, the skill set takes a decade to pick up.

Condiments

When eating Sushi, there are usually a few different condiments that you can dip the rolls in or eat with the rolls such as: soy sauce, wasabi, bamboo leaf. Yes, you can eat Sushi by itself without adding any condiments, however, by adding these to your Sushi, it will make the taste richer and better.

Types of Sushi

Keep reading and learn more about some of the most popular Sushi types you’ll encounter in Japan.

Nigiri

Small rice balls with fish, shellfish, etc. on top. There are countless varieties of nigirizushi, some of the most common ones contain tuna, shrimp, eel, squid, octopus and fried egg.

Gunkan

Small cups made of sushi rice and dried seaweed filled with seafood, etc. There are countless varieties of gunkanzushi, some of the most common ones contain sea urchin and various kinds of fish eggs.

Norimaki

Sushi rice and seafood, etc. rolled in dried seaweed sheets. There are countless varieties of Sushi rolls, differing in ingredients and thickness. Sushi rolls prepared "inside out" are very popular outside of Japan, but rarely found in Japan.

Temaki

Temakizushi(literally hand rolls) are cones made of nori seaweed and filled with Sushi rice, seafood and vegetables.

Inari

Inarizushi is a simple and inexpensive type of Sushi, in which Sushi rice is filled into aburaage (deep fried tofu) bags.

Etiquette

There is some etiquette that you need to follow while eating Sushi. Here are some tips: Do not put wasabi directly into your soy sauce; dip your nigiri into the soy sauce fish-side down;enjoy the pickled ginger as a palate cleanser; don’t rub your chopsticks together; enjoy your Sushi like the locals do.

Sashimi

Sashimi is thinly sliced meat; it is a raw food. It is one of the most famous dishes in Japanese cuisine. Seafood is most commonly eaten as Sashimi, but other types of meat can also be served as Sashimi.

Origin

The word Sashimi means "pierced body";this word dates from the Muromachi period. It ispossiblethat the name stems from the traditional method of harvesting."Sashimi-grade" fish is caught by individual hand-line. As soon as the fish is landed, its brain is pierced with a sharp spike, and it is placed in slurred ice to keep the freshness of the fish.

Ingredients

Sashimi is all about the meat; with so few ingredients it is imperative to buy the best you can find.Buy your meat from a reputable source so you can get a top-quality piece. Some Sashimi ingredients, such as octopus, are sometimes served cooked, which gives them its chewy nature. Most seafood, such as tuna, salmon, and squid, are served raw.

Other than seafood, there is a vegetarian Sashimi made from yuba (bean curd skin), and there is also some other meat served as Sashimi such as beef(known as gyuunotataki), horse (known as basashi) and chicken(known as toriwasa).

The Skill of Making Sashimi

Making Sashimi is one of the most difficult skills to master even for a Sushi chef. First of all, cutting the fish beautifully is very difficult, because the flesh of the fish is so tender that it is easy to “break” the flesh. Other than cutting the fish, a professional chef must be able to distinguish a fish and its freshness just by looking at it.

Serving

Sashimi is popularly served with a dipping sauce (soy sauce) and condiments such as wasabi paste, grated fresh ginger, grated fresh garlic, or ponzu for meat sashimi, and such garnishes as shiso and shredded daikon radish.

Types of Sashimi

The following are some of the more common types of Sashimi that travelers are likely to encounter during their trip in Japan:

Maguro (tuna)

Most parts of the fish are eaten. The most common is akami, the deep red loins of the fish which are lean, firm and meaty.

Sake (salmon)

Sake is another fish that is popularly served as Sashimi. Its bright orange flesh is tender, fatty and delicious.

Tai (sea bream)

Tai, with its mild, subtle flavor, is considered one of the top kinds of white-fleshed fish in Japanese cuisine.

Saba (mackerel)

Saba is also enjoyed as Sashimi when in season. Its oily flesh gives it a smooth, meaty flavor, which goes well with green onions and grated ginger.

Ika (squid)

Ika is one of the most common types of seafood served as Sashimi after tuna. The translucent white flesh of the ika's mantle has a firm texture and a mild flavor.

Condiments

Wasabi paste is sometimes mixed directly into soy sauce as a dipping sauce. Another way to flavor soy sauce with wasabi is to place the wasabi mound into the soy sauce dish and then pour the sauce in. Wasabi is really important for Sashimibecause it kills harmful bacteria and parasites that could be present in raw seafood.

Sushi and Sashimi Restaurants

There are differenttypes of Sushi and Sashimi restaurants.The most traditional type is a single (privately owned) Sushi restaurant, mainly consisting of a Sushi bar and some table seats, serving Nigiri Sushi or Edo style Sushi.

In general, these types of establishments have no menu or price list. The reason is daily price fluctuation of the fish at the market. Also, the type of available fish changes daily.

Other than this traditional type, there are the conveyor belt Sushi restaurants.These Sushi restaurants used to serve Sushi only, but nowadays also serveother dishes like fries and ice cream. Then there is also a take-out-only Sushi chain.

Taste Sushi with Asia Highlights

Book your next trip to Japan with Asia Highlights and enjoy every bit of Sushi and Sashimi with us like the locals do. Don’t hesitate to contact our professional staff if you have any questions!

9-Day Japan Highlights Tour: A Stimulating Fusion of East and West

11-Day Traditional Japan Tour: Historical Monuments and Lively Modern Cities

11-Day Classic Japan Tour: Explore a Cluster of Scenic Cities and Quaint Towns in a Remote Mountain Region