Sashimi is the name for raw fish. It is rich in protein and essential fatty acids and therefore very nutritious. Sashimi is often made from tuna, but other types of fish are also used. This Japanese speciality is served with an elaborate display of finely cut vegetables. Strong spices such as wasabi or grated ginger provide an extra culinary kick, and soy sauce completes the sashimi experience.
Surrounded by the ocean, fresh seafood is always available in Japan. As a result, seafood is consumed in great quantity and in many different ways, including the well-known custom of eating the tastiest parts of the fish raw, either with rice as in sushi, or in its pure form as sashimi. In this natural state, one can experience the unadulterated flavour and aroma of the finest fish. Sashimi, rich in protein and good fat, is also very nutritious. Among sashimi, the most popular is tuna. Others include sea bream, flounder, sea bass, horse mackerel, bonito, young yellowtail, squid, shrimp, scallop, and abalone.
Sashimi is always served with garnishes and spicy condiments. Garnishes, cut in decorative shapes or julienne strips, usually include vegetables like daikon radish, carrot, and cucumber. Perilla leaves and the flowering shoots of the perilla plant are used for their aroma. A variety of seaweeds also accompany sashimi. Besides making the serving arrangement more attractive, these garnishes also aid in digestion, add a seasonal touch, and bring out the flavor of the sashimi. Spicy condiments include wasabi and grated ginger.
No matter how well the sashimi is prepared, the true deliciousness of sashimi can best be experienced with soy sauce. Some restaurants even put out their own blend of soy sauce made especially for sashimi.
Put a dab of wasabi on a piece of sashimi, then lightly dip it into the soy sauce. Hold the soy sauce dish under the sashimi as you bring it to your mouth to keep it from dripping on your clothes. It's best not to put the wasabi directly into the soy sauce or its delicate aroma will be lost and the soy sauce will become cloudy. You may eat the garnishes together with the sashimi or separately.
A showcase for a chefs artistry and skill with a knife, sashimi is usually served near the beginning of a meal so that the delicate flavours can be appreciated before diners' palates have been affected by stronger flavours.