Sashimi: Everything You Need to Know

Thin-cut sashimi slices.
Thin-cut sashimi slices.

The word sashimi translates to ‘cut body’ and is thinly cut strips of meat, which is consumed raw. This delicacy was introduced by China some 2500 years ago and has since become an essential part of Japanese cuisine. Here we will cover some of the popular sashimi types, how to make perfect slices, choosing a quality knife, and how to eat it – the Japanese way!

Topics Covered

  • How to cut sashimi slices
  • How to eat sashimi
  • The best sashimi knife reviews
  • Most common sashimi types
14.5 inch sashimi chef knife.A 14.5-inch chef knife made from molybdenum stainless steel.
13 inch professional sashimi knife.13-inch professional damascus blade made from stainless steel.
Yanagiba sashimi knife.Professional yanagiba slicing knife made from stainless steel.

How to cut sashimi slices

The secret to cutting perfect sashimi slices is to cut 1/8 inch slices against the grain. It’s potentially dangerous and tricky but can be mastered with a quality knife, some technique, and a bit of careful practice.

In this video, you will learn how to cut perfect sashimi slices. Video is owned and created by HowCast.

How to eat sashimi

Sashimi, no matter the type, is just as much about visual presentation and arrangement as it is about taste. It’s recommended to be eaten the Japanese way – with chopsticks. The lightly salted delicacy is meant to be enjoyed without any condiments, but it’s perfectly acceptable to have it with soy sauce and wasabi if one chooses.

A sashimi platter is an ideal choice for beginners, as it allows people to try out the various types in one sitting. It’s common and recommended to have pickled ginger with your platter. The point is to consume small amounts of ginger in between trying out the different varieties as the ginger does a great job at cleansing your palate.

The best sashimi knife reviews

The equipment needed to make the delicacy doesn’t need to be expensive. Only a high-quality stainless steel knife is required, unlike the many items needed to make sushi. Below we will review three high-grade stainless steel Japanese knives that are ideal for the task.

Double-edged steel chef knife

This quality blade from Fuji Cutlery is double-edged and made from a special type of stainless steel known as molybdenum. The handle is polyformaldehyde, which is an engineered thermoplastic commonly used in precision parts.

The length of the blade is 9.5 inches, while the total knife length, including the handle, is 14.5 inches. It’s comfortable to use as it’s sturdy, perfectly balanced, and weighs only 220 grams.

Professional 8 inch damascus blade

The 8-inch blade is made up of 67 layers of VG-10 Japanese stainless steel and is ridiculously sharp. It’s not only ideal for effortlessly making paper-thin sashimi slices, but it also cuts through any ingredients with ease.

While the blade remains sharp and has incredible corrosion-resistant properties, the handle is made from high-quality pakkawood and ensures proper grip and balance.

The blade has a length of 8 inches and the whole knife, including the handle measures 13 inches, while it weighs a mere 1 pound.

Damascus stainless steel pro yanagiba 10.5″ slicing knife

The damascus stainless steel pro blade features an incredible 33 layers of stainless steel and allows you to slice through any ingredients without needing to apply much pressure. The knife is the most cost-effective yanagiba blade money can buy and is a popular choice among professional chefs around the world.

The different sashimi types

The varieties are endless – so much so that one could even surprisingly find horse, beef, and chicken varieties. Below we will mostly cover the traditional Japanese seafood types.

Eel sashimi

Eel sashimi
Alpha, Unagi Nigiri Sushi – Suzuran Japan Foods Trading, CC BY-SA 2.0

Most ingredients are consumed raw when it comes to this delicacy and as well as sushi, but not when dealing with eel. Most eel species have poisonous blood, which is why it first has to be bled before being lightly grilled or cooked. Nevertheless, it’s incredibly delicious and has a similar texture to fugu (pufferfish).

Octopus sashimi

Octopus sashimi
Octopus sashimi.

Octopus sashimi, also known as tako, is one of the most easily recognizable Japanese dishes. The thinly sliced purple-colored flesh with suction cups tastes surprisingly delicious when raw and lightly salted.

Sweet shrimp sashimi

Sweetshrimp sashimi
Ceeseven, Sweet Shrimp, Salmon & Scallop Sashimi, CC BY-SA 4.0

Shrimp, also known as ebi, is a delicacy in Japan. Tiger prawns, along with red shrimp, botan ebi, and amaebi, are by far the most popular and delicious types.

Squid sashimi

Squid sashimi
Squid sashimi.

Squid, or Ika, as the Japanese call it, is a popular choice. The flesh is see-through and is somewhat chewy but has a unique sweet taste. It’s common for restaurants in Japan to have a tank full of live squid, and they prepare it within two minutes right in front of you upon ordering.

Horse sashimi

Horse sashimi
Igorberger, Horse-meat, CC BY-SA 3.0

Eating horse meat is something most of us cannot even imagine – let alone eating raw. Horse meat is illegal in the US but perfectly legal in Japan, and the dish is known as basashi.

How the practice first developed is a mystery, but many speculate that it was Samurai warriors who first did it during the 1877 Kumamoto Castle battle when they were trapped for 53 days and had no choice but to eat their horses. Another popular belief is that it all started during the modernization period of Japan when people had to rely less on their horses. These horses quickly started overpopulating some rural areas of the country, and the best solution was to eat them.

Learn more about basashi here.

Fish varieties

Salmon sashimi
Salmon sashimi.

There is an enormous variety of fish that are sashimi compatible. Tuna is by far the most common and most popular choice, but other types include salmon, halibut, mackerel, red snapper, yellowtail, and sea bass, to name but a few. A word of caution: Mackerel is the least popular since many people do not like the strong oily texture and taste.

Related Content

Interested in knowing more about basashi? Read more about it here.

Have you ever wanted to know how sushi differs from sashimi? Find out here.

Don’t forget to check out our ultimate sushi guide.

Interested in making your own sushi at home? Learn how to do that here.

Making sushi rice to perfection on the stove is an art. Simplify it with these rice cookers from Japan.

Be sure to check out these sushi making classes in Tokyo and Kyoto.