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What Is Sashimi? Is It Similar To Sushi? Here’s Everything You Need To Know!

Are you wondering about what sashimi is? Find interesting facts regarding the Japanese delicacy, from its flavor profile to tips on the right way of cutting for sashimi. 

Sashimi is a delicious dish made from thinly sliced raw fish or meat in Japan, which is famous worldwide. 

Although fish and seafood are the most common ingredients for sashimi, other chefs use raw meats such as beef, pork, chicken, and even horse.

Moreover, sashimi is sought-after for its light and subtle flavor and yummy goodness of very fresh raw seafood. 

It’s often confused with sushi, another Japanese dish made from vinegared rice then topped with veggies or seafood or wrapped in seaweed and shaped into bite-size pieces.

Unlike sushi, you can opt not to serve sashimi with. 

However, you can season the two with soy sauce, ginger, and wasabi, then with beer or sake. 

Preparing good sashimi requires excellent knife skills as the dish doesn’t demand cooking, marinating, or saucing and only needs to preserve the key ingredient’s full flavor.  

This comprehensive guide explores everything you need to know about sashimi, including its similarities and differences to sushi and some potential tips on ordering the dish for your next feast at the Japanese restaurant.

Table Of Contents

What is sashimi?

As mentioned, sashimi is a Japanese dish made from thinly sliced raw meat or fish. 

The word sashimi derives from the word sushi which means “pierce” or “stabbing,” and mi, meaning “flesh” or “body.”

A few of the popular key ingredients included in sashimi are salmon (sake), tuna (maguro), squid (ika), and mackerel (saba).

Don’t get confused between sashimi and sushi, as these two things are very different from one another. 

You can create sushi from seasoned and vinegared rice topped with raw or cooked seafood or sometimes wrapped with seaweed sheets. 

Meanwhile, sashimi only contains fresh raw meat or seafood and is often partnered with wasabi or soy sauce. 

Many sashimi chefs hone their knife skills to ensure that their slices are similar and visually appealing. 

They slice the meat into different shapes like flat, thin strips, diagonal, and even cubes.

Sashimi is delicious on its own, but feel free to serve it with soy sauce or wasabi to make the food even more extraordinary. 

What is the difference between sashimi and sushi?

Sashimi and sushi are often interchangeably called, causing a lot of confusion. While both are delicious and, various key differences set them apart. 

Here are the distinction between sushi and sashimi when it comes to ingredients, making process, and common types:

Ingredients

Sashimi is a Japanese recipe made from thinly sliced raw meat and served without rice. 

Meanwhile, you can make sushi from seasoned and vinegared rice topped with raw or cooked seafood or other ingredients.

Is it cooked or uncooked?

Sashimi is always raw, while some sushi recipes feature both raw or cooked ingredients.

Common types

Some common varieties of sashimi are maguro (tuna), sake (salmon), tai (sea bream), saba (mackerel), and katsuo (bonito). 

As per sushi, nigiri or nigirizushi, gunkan (made from a small ball of rice wrapped in dry seaweed), and norimaki (sushi rolls) are some of the most popular types of sushi.

Seasonings and pairings

Sashimi and sushi can be seasoned with soy sauce, ginger, wasabi and served alongside beer and sake.

What does sashimi mean?

The Japanese word sashimi comes from the word Sashi, meaning “pierce” or “stabbing,” and mi which translates to “flesh” or “body.”

How to eat sashimi

You can often eat sashimi with chopsticks but if you want to feel the texture of the food, simply lift one between your thumb and middle finger. 

This method also helps to keep the sashimi together and is considered the traditional way to eat the food. 

You can have most sashimi on a dish, but some chefs put them on a bed of fresh vegetables for more visual effect.

You can season the sashimi with soy sauce, wasabi, or citrus. 

Just ensure that you won’t add or pour too much of the sauce even if you don’t need it because Japanese people find this offensive.

There are types of sashimi that you can include wasabi or ground ginger into the piece. 

To do this, simply dab the green paste onto the pieces of sashimi, and that’s it!

Tips on ordering sashimi

Follow these tricks and tips on ordering sashimi so you’ll know what to do the next time you visit a Japanese restaurant.

  • Start with a light plate of sashimi as this can warm up your palate. According to mensjournal.com, you should start with light or lean meat like whitefish before moving to heavy or fatty fishes like tunas and mackerel. 
  • Order sashimi little by little to avoid drying out the pieces.
  • If you’re undecided, ask the chef which dishes you should try. This way, the chef can present his or her best sashimi dishes.

What does sashimi taste like?

So what does sashimi taste like? To cut to the chase—it should taste like the seafood or meat included in the piece. 

It has a light and subtle flavor with a nice texture that kind of melts into your mouth. 

And because the meat used is fresh, sashimi doesn’t (or shouldn’t) have that foul smell or fishy aftertaste (for fish-based sashimi).

How to cut sashimi

Cutting the meat for sashimi requires skill, a few tools, and steps. 

Today, I’m going to share the most basic way to slice sashimi—it’s called hirazukuri or the rectangular slice. 

Here’s how you do it: 
 
Tools needed:

  • Yanagiba knife (knife for sashimi)
  • Cutting board
  • Tuna Saku or tuna fish fillet

Instructions for cutting sashimi:

  1. Place a block of the tuna on a cutting board. This way, you will ensure that the grains run horizontally. 
  2. Proceed to slice the fillet and decide how thick you want your sashimi slices.
  3. The perfect way to cut the meat is to draw the sashimi knife from its base to the tip. Tilt your knife to the right to remove the slice from the knife. 
  4. Transfer the slices on a dish, season them with soy sauce, and enjoy that umami-packed sashimi flavor.

Take note: Always remember to cut the fish fillets across the grain, meaning you should not cut perpendicular to the direction of the spine. This is to make sure that the slices aren’t stringy. 

The bottom line

Sashimi is truly delicious and full of umami flavor, similar to sushi. 

There are various types you can enjoy today. 

While others enjoy eating sashimi with soy sauce, some people are fond of adding daikon and shiso garnishes as these vegetables lend a fresh and minty flavor profile to the pieces. 

How about you? How do you enjoy your sashimi? Feel free to share with us in the comments.

🍴 Check out our epic list of Japanese desserts and appetizers, too! 🍴

Salmon Sashimi

Salmon Sashimi

As an appetizer or dinner, this sashimi of salmon is delicious and light. Soy yuzu citrus ponzu or fresh wasabi, ginger, and soy sauce makes an excellent dip for it.

Ingredients

  • 140 g sushi-grade salmon
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 1 T citrus ponzu sauce
  • ¼ t minced garlic
  • ½ t wasabi

Instructions

  1. If you prefer, you can slice the salmon into sashimi-style slices (about 14 inches thick or to your liking). Slices must be rectangular in shape.
  2. Use finely minced garlic to make garlic ponzu sauce then add it to your soy sauce and citrus yuzu ponzu sauce. 
  3. Serve it with wasabi and enjoy!

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