Popular Types Of Sashimi Recommended By Japanese Food Lovers
Sashimi is the classic Japanese dish that has been touted as the country’s one of the greatest food. Foreigners started to know about this delicacy in the 60s last century and they usually mistake it for sushi. In this blog, let’s get to know more about sashimi and some of the best types of sashimi to enjoy when visiting Japan.
Types of sashimi: Get inspired to Japanese food
What is sashimi?
Sashimi (also written 刺身 in Japanese, literally means pierced body) is among the world’s simplest food. It is a glistening colorful piece of raw seafood or meat, nothing more is added. To create direct taste experience, the ingredient must be in its highest freshness and quality. Also, the thickness of cuts and artistic sense of the chef are very important to make sure the sashimi dish is not just a lump of raw seafood.
The exact genesis of sashimi remains unknown today but many theories have been made. The most popular theory derived from the traditional harvesting method ikejime, in which a fish’s brain is pierced with a spike right after being caught to preserve the freshness. People find it easy to misunderstand “sushi” and “sashimi”. While sashimi is thin sliced fish or meat, generally served raw with soy sauce or wasabi, sushi is bite-sized bits of seafood that is eaten with vinegared rice.
The Japanese commonly use seafood to make sashimi, but in fact, other types of meats (such as beef, horse and deer) and foods (such as yuba tofu skin and konnyaku) can also be served as sashimi. Sashimi fish can be enjoyed either as the first course in a traditional Japanese meal or a main course with rice and miso soup.
Japanese cuisine has introduced sashimi for over 10000 years, from the working class to royalty. However, it was not until the 1960s that sashimi made its first debut to the world, when the first restaurant was opened in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles. Now there are over 4000 sashimi restaurants in the United States and people can enjoy sashimi virtually all over the world.
How to eat sashimi
Most types of sashimi are seasoned with soy sauce, so you need to dip each piece into a small dish of soy sauce before eating it. It is customarily the responsibility of the diners to fill the small dishes with soy sauce, and it is polite to pour only as much soy sauce as needed.
When eating sashimi, you will add a small amount of wasabi or ground ginger to the sashimi piece depending on the sashimi types. It is the proper etiquette to dab the wasabi or ginger directly onto the slices of sashimi instead of mixing them onto the soy sauce. You may also like eating sashimi with the daikon and shiso garnishes, which have a fresh and minty taste.
You should be sure to eat sashimi with chopsticks, and take care not to overload each piece with soy sauce, which overpowers the flavor of the fish.
Here comes the steps to eat sashimi properly:
- Step 1: Lay out one sashimi piece
- Step 2: Put a little wasabi on top
- Step 3: Fold the piece over the wasabi
- Step 4: Light dip into soy sauce and enjoy it
Remember to eat sashimi in one bite.
Check out this video to know how to eat sashimi!
What types of sashimi are there?
Here comes the list of popular types of sashimi in Japan.
Sake sashimi (salmon)
Sake is among the most common sashimi fish in Japan. Its color (bright orange) is visually appealing and its flesh is tender, fatty and slightly buttery. For salmon to be used in sashimi dishes, it needs to be frozen first to eliminate any risk of parasites. This sashimi fish is said to be rich in vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fish oils.
Maguro sashimi (bluefin tuna)
Maguro is one of the most highly prized fish in Japan. Some of the best tuna are caught off Cape Oma at the northernmost tip of Aomori Prefecture. Japanese people have eaten tuna since time immemorial and they have sashimi virtually available at almost every restaurant’s menu.
The deep red loins of the fish are the most affordable part. They are lean, firm, meaty, and also lowest in fat.
The Higher up on the scale – back and stomach area, is especially prized for its rich, buttery flavor. It has pink color and higher fat content.
The lowest part of the belly, next to the head is the best part of tuna (also the most expensive). It is exceptionally high in fat and has a characteristic sophisticated taste which makes the pieces melt in your mouth.
Hotate sashimi (scallop)
Hotate – a prized shellfish in Japanese cuisine, features a firm, mild texture and an umami flavor. Thanks to the amino acids and glutamic acids full in their meat, scallops are incredibly sweet and creamy when served fresh out of their shell. Japanese restaurants normally use the thick, white abductor muscle of a scallop to serve as a type of sashimi, while its viscera can also be cooked in some other dishes. The best scallops are found in Hokkaido and Aomori, Japan.
Ikura sashimi (salmon roe)
Ikura is a type of caviar that is cured in salt or drizzled with soya sauce. Oddly enough, its name derives from a Russian word, meaning fish eggs. With the soft skin and an unusual texture full of bubbles, salmon roe is a favorite menu item for people of all age ranges. Each individual egg is washed in warm water to separate before being coated in olive oil to preserve their glossiness. Ikura is higher in fat and protein than salmon. It is the signal of the coming autumn and some of the best ikura are produced in Hokkaido prefecture.
Kanpachi sashimi (amberjack)
Kanpachi (also called yellowtail or amberjack), is a type of lean, mild and slightly creamy tasting fish that comes at its best in early summer. The color is a very light pinkish-white that’s almost translucent. They are specially favored for their taut, richly fatty flesh by many foodies.
Katsuo sashimi (bonito)
Known as the migratory fish, katsuo (bonito) is very important in Japanese cuisine. They come from the mackerel family, being one of the greatest swimmers of the sea. Because they like warm water, every year they are found heading to Hokkaido from March to June and returning south in autumn, creating two seasons of catching bonito in the year. Bonito in the first season has a clear, refreshing taste while returning bonito is said to have a deeper, richer flavor.
Bonito is mostly served in “katsuo no tataki” style, in which chefs lightly sear around the edges of katsuo loin and keep it raw inside. The fish is enjoyed for its high fat content and buttery flavor.
Suzuki sashimi (sea bass)
A mild-tasting white fish without a sharp aroma and any dark-red flesh. The Japanese name of sea bass – “om suzuki,” meaning “washed” – is derived from its neat flesh. The firm, tender flesh on the back resembles that of sea bream, while the meat from belly is more fatty and soft. People usually enjoy sea bass during the summer when they gain weight, and their meat develops more fat content.
Tai sashimi (sea bream)
Among the several varieties of red snapper, tai is the most highly prized in Japanese cuisine. It is elegant in form, mild and subtle in flavor with just the right amount of umami and sweetness. The name itself means “happy”. Because of this, it’s considered a symbol of good luck and often served in times of celebration, such as at weddings and during the New Year. The season runs from winter to spring.
Sanma sashimi (Pacific saury)
A silvery, long and slender type of red fish. They are delicate in texture and surprisingly, not at all strong in flavor. Sanma’s flavor represents the coming of autumn and it’s also best to enjoy in fall. When eating saury as sashimi, it is common for wasabi, ginger or slices of apple to be served alongside the fish to minimize its aroma.
Uni sashimi (sea urchin)
Inside the hard shell of spiny black sea urchin is its luscious, golden-orange roe, which has a rich, buttery texture, and a sweet, briny flavor reminiscent of the ocean. Some of the best uni comes from Hokkaido.
Fugu sashimi (blowfish)
A type of puffer fish that is particularly luxurious but also dangerous because of the potentially lethal levels of tetrodotoxin contained in its liver and ovaries. Processing fugu is strictly controlled as only chefs that have a license are able to make food from fugu. Regardless of that, the taste of blowfish innards is said to make gourmets groan with delight and the best time for blowfish is in the winter months.
Saba sashimi (Japanese mackerel)
The world’s most consumed fish varieties, along with tuna and bluefish. It is often grilled, but when in season it’s a delicious sashimi option for those who enjoy bolder tasting fish. The oiliness gives saba a smooth, meaty flavor but also makes it spoil quickly. That’s why the fish is lightly pickled in vinegar to preserve longer. Because of its boldly fishy flavor and oily taste, saba is perfect to combine with the sharpness of diced green onions and grated ginger.
Tako sashimi (octopus)
While it’s most often boiled for meals as it’s quite chewy, tako sometimes can also be served raw in sashimi. Raw octopus has a firm, almost crunchy texture and a very mild taste. In order to be served raw for sashimi, the octopus must be very thinly sliced to reduce the rubbery texture and draw out its subtly sweet aroma.
Amaebi sashimi (sweet shrimp)
There are several varieties of shrimp and prawns popular for sashimi. Among that, amaebi is high in fat and considered a huge delicacy. They are usually presented with most of the shell removed. When eaten raw, the shrimp’s amino acids lend the flesh a sweet, subtle flavor. Due to that sweetness, they are a favorite seafood item for children. Some places that are famous for their amaebi include Niigata and Hokkaido.
Ika sashimi (squid)
It’s surprising that in Japan, squid is the most common type of seafood served as sashimi after tuna. Ika is loved for its slickness, firmness and refreshing taste. In terms of nutritional value, it is also rich in Vitamin E and taurine, zinc, DHA and EPA.
While the squid’s legs are usually reserved for other dishes, the translucent white flesh of the ika’s mantle can be cut into thin strips that resemble noodles and served in ika somen style. People normally combine squid sashimi with soy sauce and wasabi to accentuate the flavor.
Ahi (Yellowfin & Bigeye Tuna)
Ahi is the name for two types of tuna, which are yellowfin and bigeye tuna. While yellowfin has a mild flavor and a firm texture making it ideal for sashimi, bigeye features a higher fat content and buttery flavor.
Engawa is the portion of sashimi cut from along the flounder’s fin. The texture is a bit tough, but there’s also a fatty portion that’s high in collagen.
Hokkigai, Akagai, Tsubugai, Mirugai (Surf Clam, Red Clam, Whelk, Geoduck Clam)
Hokkigai clams are a popular sashimi clam with a meaty texture and sweet flavor, whereas akagai clams have a milder, more delicate flavor. While Tsubugai have a sweet flavor and a slightly crunchy texture, mirugai have a salty ocean fragrance and a mildly sweet flavor.
Aji (Horse Mackerel)
Aji is a popular and reasonably priced fish found in the oceans of Japan, Korea, and China.
1. What white fish is used in sashimi?
White fish is generally a mild-flavored, often slightly-sweet fish. White fish that can be used as types of sashimi are flounder, halibut, sea bass and mackerel.
2. What is crab sashimi?
Not all crabs are able to eat fresh. Found in the deepest and coldest waters, snow crab is extremely popular in Japanese cuisine. The texture of crab legs is extra fresh and unbeatable, making it a particularly tasty candidate for sashimi. Snow crab is best when soaked in ice water right before plating to keep the crab meat tender.
Dip them in soy sauce with a dab of wasabi for a well-rounded flavor. If you’re a bit of a food adventurer or enthusiast by any means, this is a great dish to try.
3. Which tuna is best for sashimi?
Tuna is one of the first types of fish used by Japanese chefs to make sashimi. Bluefin tuna is used at many top-notch establishments for choice cuts such as toro. Besides, bonito is also a central ingredient in fish stock.
4. What are the most popular types of fish served as sashimi?
Some of the most popular types of fish chosen for sashimi include the following:
Salmon is a popular type of fish enjoyed by people all over the world. It is one of the best fish for sashimi as it not only offers a delicious flavor but also contributes to the sashimi’s visual attractiveness with its bright orange color. In Japanese restaurants, this fish is referred to as sake sashimi.
Also known as Maguro, tuna is served as sashimi in many restaurants in Japan. There are three different cuts of tuna, including otoro, chutoro and akami.
Otoro is the most expensive and found on the low part of the fish belly. It’s high in fat, which is considered good in Japan.
Chutoro, which is pink in color, is the lower grade of tuna. It also has a high fat content, but not as high as otoro.
The lowest grade of tuna is akami, which has a deep red color.
- Ahi tuna
There are two types of tuna in this category: yellowfin and bigeye. Yellowfin has a milder flavor and a firmer texture than bigeye. Bigeye has more fat, which in Japanese cookery is a good thing. Bigeye has a buttery taste to it.
Halibut is a form of flounder that tastes best when thinly sliced. Engawa refers to the rough texture along the fin. The fatty portion is softer and has more collagen, which benefits skin health.
Squid is another popular sashimi option. To make an appealing dish, the chef will julienne the squid into thin slivers of meat. Otherwise, it’s a little dull and uninteresting.
Octopus, also known as tako, is sweet and tasty when cooked properly. To reduce the rubbery texture, the chef will slice it very thinly. It’s usually cooked for meals, but it’s also served raw as sashimi.
- Japanese mackerel
In Japanese restaurants, grilled Japanese mackerel, also known as saba, is popular. It can, however, be served raw in sashimi for those who want a stronger flavor. To balance off the flavor and oiliness, it’s frequently served with grated ginger and sliced green onions.
When yellowtail fish is in season in the summer, it is quite popular. The taste is creamy and the pale pinkish tint is practically translucent. It’s also slimmer than most other fish.
5. How healthy is sashimi?
When it comes to Japanese cuisine, there are a variety of healthy options, with Sashimi being one of the healthiest.
Below is the list of 4 health benefits of sashimi:
- Sashimi is high in protein
Sashimi is high in protein, which is important for muscular growth and energy because it is just raw fish.
Salmon and tuna have a particularly high protein-to-calorie ratio. Fish provides 1 gram of protein for every 4.5 calories consumed.
- Sashimi offers a variety of vitamins and nutrients
Sashimi is high in a variety of vitamins and nutrients that are essential in your diet. Niacin, selenium, magnesium, phosphorous, and vitamins B6 and B12 are only a few of the essential vitamins and nutrients included in sashimi. These vitamins and minerals are necessary for a healthy and growing body.
- Sashimi has “good fats”
Saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats are the three types of fats.
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats found in salmon and tuna. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to lessen inflammation and aid in the treatment of arthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids can also help to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke.
Saturated fats are classified as “bad fats” and are found in most meats, but salmon and tuna have a lower saturated fat content than other types of meat.
- Sashimi contains fewer calories
Rice is one of the healthiest grains available. It contains a variety of essential vitamins as well as antioxidants that have been linked to improved cardiovascular health. Rice, on the other hand, is a carbohydrate. Carbohydrates are essential for energy, but they are also abundant in calories. Rice is healthy when consumed in moderation.
Sashimi is the greatest option for people on low-carb or no-carb diets because it does not contain rice.
6. How to choose the best fish for sashimi?
You know, good sashimi is not necessarily fresh fish. Fish varies in flavor and texture over time, and certain fish, like beef, gets better with age. Smaller fish and seafood, such as prawns and squid, are best eaten right away. However, larger fish such as flounder and snapper may require a few hours or overnight rest on ice to relax their muscles and improve their flavor.
Some even believe that really large fish, such as tuna, are best when kept for a week or two. But be warned that maturing fish for raw consumption is strictly for experts, and when picking fish for sashimi, it is recommended to consult a good fishmonger.
Hope this little guide to types of sashimi will interest you! Still have questions? Please leave below.