AskDefine | Define sashimi

Dictionary Definition

sashimi n : very thinly sliced raw fish

User Contributed Dictionary



Cuisine; borrowed from (the original Japanese meaning is not recognized in English).


  • /saʃɪmɪ/


  1. Of or pertaining to the type of sushi served without sticky white rice.


  1. A type of sushi consisting of only the thin slices of raw fish.


type of sushi

Extensive Definition

Sashimi () is a Japanese delicacy primarily consisting of very fresh raw seafood, sliced into thin pieces about 2.5cm (1.0in.) wide by 4.0cm (1.5in.) long by 0.5 cm (0.25in.) thick, but dimensions vary depending on the type of item and chef, and served with only a dipping sauce (soy sauce with wasabi paste and thinly-sliced ginger root or ponzu), and a simple garnish such as shiso and shredded daikon radish.
The word sashimi means "pierced body", i.e. "刺身 = sashimi = 刺し = sashi (pierced, stuck) and 身 = mi (body, meat), may derive from the culinary practice of sticking the fish's tail and fin to the slices in identifying the fish being eaten.
One possibility of the name "pierced body" could come from the traditional method of harvesting. 'Sashimi Grade' fish is caught by individual handline, and as soon as the fish is landed, its brain is pierced with a sharp spike, killing it instantly, then placed in slurried ice. This spiking is called the Ike jime process. Because the flesh thus contains minimal lactic acid from the fish dying slowly, it will keep fresh on ice for about 10 days without turning white, or otherwise degrading.
The word sashimi has been integrated to the English language and is often used to refer to other uncooked fish preparations besides the traditional Japanese dish subject of this article.


Sashimi often is the first course in a formal Japanese meal, but can also be the main course, presented with rice and Miso soup in separate bowls. Many Japanese people believe that sashimi, traditionally considered the finest dish in Japanese cuisine, should be eaten before other strong flavors affect the palate. Culinarily, sashimi represents the Japanese cultural appreciation of subtlety. The finer sensation can vary from salmon (not traditionally Japanese) to squid, and everything in between.
The sliced seafood that composes the main ingredient is typically draped over a garnish. The typical garnish is Asian white radish, daikon, shredded into long thin strands, accompanied by one green perilla leaf per slice.
Simple sauces are served with sashimi, such as shoyu soy sauce and wasabi. The Japanese sometimes mix wasabi paste directly into soy sauce as a dipping sauce, which is generally not done when eating sushi, however. Purists denounce the practice of mixing wasabi into soy sauce, saying that this dilutes the sharp hot flavor of wasabi. Another more correct way to flavor soy sauce with wasabi is to place the wasabi mound into the soy sauce dish and then pour it in. This allows the wasabi to infuse the soy sauce more subtly. A reputed motivation for serving wasabi with sashimi (and also gari, pickled ginger), besides its flavor, is killing harmful bacteria and parasites that could be present in raw seafood.


Some of the most popular main ingredients for sashimi are:
Some sashimi ingredients, such as octopus, are sometimes served cooked given its chewy nature. Most seafood, such as tuna, salmon, and squid, are served raw.
Tataki, (たたき or 叩き, "pounded"), is a type of sashimi. The name comes from the sliced onion placed atop the uncut fish piece and tapped with the side of the cutting blade to transfer the flavor. Also it is quickly and lightly seared outside, leaving it raw inside.
Less common, but not unusual, sashimi ingredients are vegetarian items such as yuba (bean curd skin) and raw red meats, such as beef or horse. In Japan, chicken "sashimi" (slightly braised on the outside) is a delicacy.
In the pilot episode of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, chef Andrew Zimmern traveled to a specialty restaurant in Tokyo called Asadachi to sample frog sashimi and its still-beating heart.

Other sashimi-style dishes

Sashimi is similar to sushi, another Japanese food, often featuring raw fish, that is commonly served at the same establishments. Non-Japanese often confuse these two dishes, which are however considered distinct and separate.
Sushi actually refers to any dish made with vinegared rice. The raw seafood is a mere topping, much like a filling to a sandwich, and so sushi can have other featured ingredients instead of raw seafood
Another sashimi-like dish is namasu, which consists of, among other ingredients, raw marinated fish, and was originally introduced from ancient China to ancient Japan.
Basashi, raw horse meat, is a 'traditional' dish from Kumamoto, Matsumoto, and Tohoku region, but can be found readily in many restaurants in Osaka, Tokyo and other large cities in Japan.

Safety notes

As with any raw food, when sashimi is eaten there is a risk of foodborne illness caused by bacteria and parasites such as Anisakis simplex (Pseudoterranova decipiens), and Tetrodotoxin in Fugu fish.
Traditionally, fish that live some or part of their lives in brackish or fresh water were considered unsuitable for sashimi due to the possibility of parasites. An example, salmon, an anadromous fish, is not traditionally eaten as sashimi straight out of the river. A study in Seattle, Washington showed that 100% of wild salmon had roundworm larvae capable of infecting people, whereas the same study showed that farm-raised salmon did not have any roundworm larvae.
Freezing is often practiced to kill parasites. According to European Union regulations, freezing fish at -20°C (-4°F) for 24 hours kills parasites. The FDA recommends freezing at -35°C (-31°F) for 15 hours, or at -20°C (-4°F) for 7 days.
While Canada does not federally regulate freezing fish, British Columbia and Alberta voluntarily adhere to guidelines similar to the FDA's. Ontario attempted to legislate freezing as part of raw food handling requirements, though this was soon withdrawn due to protests by the industry that the subtle flavours and texture of raw fish would be destroyed by freezing. Instead, Ontario has decided to consider regulations on how raw fish must be handled prior to serving.
Some fish for sashimi is being treated with carbon monoxide to make the flesh appear red for a longer time in storage. This practice is controversial because spoiled fish will continue to look fresh.

Environmental concerns

The increased popularity of bluefin tuna for sashimi is reported to have brought this popular species to the verge of extinction. Farming bluefin does not help the situation, because the captive fish are not raised from spawn, but rather from small wild fish that are netted and transported to the farms, mostly in the Mediterranean.


External links

sashimi in German: Sashimi
sashimi in Spanish: Sashimi
sashimi in French: Sashimi
sashimi in Indonesian: Sashimi
sashimi in Italian: Sashimi
sashimi in Hebrew: סשימי
sashimi in Japanese: 刺身
sashimi in Dutch: Sashimi
sashimi in Polish: Sashimi
sashimi in Portuguese: Sashimi
sashimi in Russian: Сасими
sashimi in Finnish: Sashimi
sashimi in Swedish: Sashimi
sashimi in Tamil: சசிமி
sashimi in Chinese: 刺身
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